Postpartum care is vital for every woman’s recovery, so why is it essentially nonexistent in the United States? After giving birth, a new mother is discharged with a small speech on postpartum bleeding and given some pain meds. Baring an emergency admittance for something like a hemorrhage, she is not seen again for six weeks.
At the six week check up, the doctor checks to see that a woman’s body has healed properly. An exam is done to see that she’s come through the recovery period and is now relatively back to normal. In other words, typically, no care is given until after the postpartum period passes. And yet, that’s when she needs the most medical attention and guidance she can get.
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Popsugar writer Kate Steilen learned for the first time that she had broken her tailbone during childbirth at her six week check up. At that point, she received no advice or remedies and was told to wait it out. That wasn’t much comfort for the nursing mother who had to sit down every few hours to feed her infant.
Women often suffer silently through the postpartum period and those who have given birth for the first time may be blind sighted by symptoms they had no idea they’d face. Pain sitting down, painful contractions, difficulty using the bathroom, blood clots, and body aches are among these grievances. And don’t forget that a new mother is tending to her infant’s immediate needs near constantly during this period, and is more than likely sleep deprived and weak. A postpartum mother is at her most vulnerable, and it is at this point that she’s faced with a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting task. She needs support! And medical support is a big part of that.
Steilen advises readers to prioritize rest, take their pain meds, and bathe frequently during the early days after childbirth. She emphasizes reaching out and accepting help from friends and family. We can’t force the doctors to change overnight but we can do our best to minimize the medical difficulties of the postpartum period by planning ahead and relying on our support network.