Maternal Health Emergency! Where Are the Mommy Docs?!
If you think you spent a lot of time with doctors during pregnancy, just wait until this first year of well-baby appointments. The number of checkups can seem overwhelming, and yet, obviously, those one month, two month, four month, etc appointments cannot be missed. There’s so much going on with your little one’s development from week to week that it’s vital to check in and make sure everything is going as smoothly as possible. But while your little one is getting checked at every stage along the way, it might seem like your maternal health and all the changes your body is going through (there are a ton!) aren’t really of interest to anybody until your six week checkup—yes, that’s a month and a half after delivery!
We live in a time and culture so obsessed with taking care of pregnant women, but our so-called “maternal health” focus pretty much ends there. Nobody’s paying attention to the health and safety of new moms. Here in America, you’re practically chucked out of the hospital right after giving birth (after all, every day in that hospital bed costs a looot of money!), and then you’re essentially ignored while your body recovers for the next weeks after. And trust me, it’s not like this everywhere—the U.S. is one of the worst developed countries when it comes to maternal health. In France, it’s routine for new moms spend a week in the hospital after giving birth just to make sure everything’s going okay, and in the Netherlands, midwives visit new moms at home daily for the first eight days after they return from the hospital.
It’s absolutely crazy tunes that there aren’t mommy docs on hand to check you out when you head to your pediatrician well visits. So much of your baby’s health is dependent on your own wellbeing, especially if you’re breast feeding. Look at it this way, if you’re not getting nutrients, your baby isn’t getting nutrients. If you’re having trouble breast feeding, then maybe baby isn’t getting enough milk to sustain optimal growth. Beyond the jubblies, if you’re too exhausted and sleep deprived, or if you’re feeling symptoms of postpartum depression, you could actually be putting your baby at risk, which nobody—especially you—wants.
Until new mommy checkups become more of a thing—here’s hoping!—I tell every mom-to-be I know to at least schedule a checkup for themselves for about two or three weeks after giving birth, or better yet, have a doula or midwife visit you at home to make sure everything’s going okay and answer your questions. Yes, it might seem impossible to add anything else to your schedule (especially when you’re not sleeping, and every part of your body is either bleeding, dripping, or aching) but seeing a doc, doula, or midwife and finding out what’s normal and what’s not—and getting help to make things easier—will give you the confidence you need to get this whole parenting thing off to the best start possible.