By: Jared Lim
Several months before the arrival of our first baby, my wife and I decided to take a birth class…or rather, my wife told me I was going to take a birth class with her. I was a little hesitant because I wasn’t exactly sure if the class would prove valuable.
Would we arrive at some junction in the birth where a question would arise or something would go wrong and the whole room would freeze, turn to me and say in sacred tones, “Remember what they taught you in the birth class.”
Or in the throngs of labor would we have a nurse burst into the room and yell, “The doctor was crushed in a stampede! Did anyone take a birth class?!”
It’s not that I didn’t support attending a class, but part of me figured that I would intuitively know how to be helpful during birth. After all, humans have given birth for millions of years without birth classes.
Well, we attended the birth class and it was amazing. We learned about the stages of birth, the biology, the anatomy, and my personal favorite–the most useful things for me to do at each stage of labor.
I realized that just because birth was natural, didn’t mean I naturally knew how to navigate it.
It wasn’t long before our baby girl arrived and it wasn’t long after that before my wife started recognizing some of the challenges that came with the transition into motherhood. She would have anxious feelings that our baby was going to be harmed or injured and she wouldn’t be able to prevent it. At night she would roll around but never find sleep. During the day she was exhausted. Her muscles were achy and she experienced pelvic floor pain. She felt alone and without friends.
To be clear, my wife wasn’t diagnosed with anything major, this was all just part of the average postpartum experience.
In an attempt to feel better, my wife decided to attend a pelvic floor class. I remember when she came home, she was in tears. Not because it was bad, but because there were so many women there with so many questions and the leaders weren’t even able to get through half of their material. She was starting to realize that she needed much more help. I cried too when I heard the class was $90/hour.
I started to wonder, is my wife the only one going through this? What’s out there to help these women?
I decided to do some research, so I dropped a message on Facebook that I wanted to talk to any woman who gave birth in the last year and just hear about their experience. I spoke with one woman, then two, and before I knew it I had heard from over 200 women and collected hundreds of pages of insights into their experiences.
Let me share some of the things these women said.
“It’s terrifying. Sometimes you think you can do it but you just can’t and everything feels so overwhelming.”
“At work people used to tell me ‘good job’ when I did something right. But as a mother I don’t know if I’m doing it right and you don’t get any praise. I don’t know how things are supposed to be and sometimes I feel like I’m failing.”
“Sometimes I go to the park to try to find other moms to talk to. I’m just lonely.”
“I’m isolated. I’m not near family, my husband is gone all the time, I can’t do school, I can’t work. I lost my identity and everything that made me me is gone.”
Believe me when I say, if you sit down and read the pages and pages of stories I’ve collected, it makes you want to cry and hug every single one of them. These poor women thought that because the issues they were facing were common, meant they were the norm. It didn’t take me long to see a pattern: a lack of postpartum care.
Just because the postpartum period is natural, doesn’t mean women naturally know how to navigate it.
Sound familiar? They were just like me! In the same way I assumed I could make it through birth by some divine instinct, these women all assumed they could make it through the postpartum period with their motherly instincts.
But look at what’s really happening:
- 15% of moms have postpartum depression
- 25% of women experience prolapse
- 50% of moms have urinary incontinence/leaking
- 54% of new moms feel ‘friendless’
- 80% of new moms have baby blues
- 90% of new moms feel lonely
And if that doesn’t astound you, half of all mothers with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder never get treatment.
“But then it sounds like we should have some sort of birth class but for postpartum.”
It’s funny you should say that noble reader.
Shortly after this experience, I reached out to birth workers all across Utah and asked who wanted to help–and the response was amazing. Within weeks we assembled a team and put our heads together to help women reclaim their postpartum. We wanted to help women realize that the postpartum period isn’t something that can be navigated by instinct alone.
Today, we help women create a postpartum plan, teach them how to prevent serious issues, and enable them to build a strong personal community.
I believe that motherhood is a noble and beautiful calling and that we can do so much more to help women during postpartum. I hope more mothers join us and learn how to thrive during postpartum and not just survive. I hope we can revolutionize the postpartum period.
PS: It’s a lot cheaper than $90/hour