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Mothering & Family Resources: Prenatal to Postpartum and Everything In Between

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Photo taken this past week,
entering into my third trimester
with my third child.

As I am approaching the last few weeks of my third pregnancy, I thought it helpful to share some of the resources I use and have written about in my own journey through motherhood. Here are some helpful resources for you eco-saavy mothers and readers:


Pregnancy

There are other texts that offer methods for labor and delivery coaching that I have used in the past, including Birthing from Within and Natural Childbirth (Bradley Method).  Although they are wonderful texts I found that the relaxation method(s) taught in them, if used exclusively, can hinder the process of active participation in birth.  Combining my own yoga poses and breathing methods (which will eventually be available in my new book Fit and Fearless Birth) with the Bradley technique and and methods suggested in Peggy Simkin’s book can allow a mother to actively participate in the birth process.

Postpartum

Unfortunately support and resources after childbirth tend to dwindle rapidly and are more difficult to find.  The incidence of postpartum depression (PPD) in American women is at its highest ever, with some reports being as high as 20% (Josefsson et al 2001).

Most texts available on the postpartum period center around recognizing and treating, rather than preventing postpartum depression.  However, it seems that we could do better by new mothers to offer more care and support in the days, weeks, and months preceding and proceeding childbirth – by helping mothers physically – with community based support, sound advice on being fit and ready for birth, and the like.  Oprah has even stated that the most common problem reported on her show centered around parenting and “how-to” do it.  In a suggestion to Dr. Mehmet Oz, she said perhaps American youth need more structured learning about parenting, since we have less familial network and support due to our highly mobile lifestyles.

In addition, America’s lack of a maternal or paternal leave policy is thought to greatly contribute to the lack of support and high rates of PPD. As a developed nation the US ranks at rock bottom for maternal support.  Out of 160 nations in 2010 as reported in the Save The Children Mother Index, Nordic countries place first, followed by several other developed countries.  Several poorer countries, including the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania rank higher than the United States. The European states of Croatia and Slovenia also ranked higher than the US.

Factors that influence the US ranking are its high maternal and infant mortality rate and lack of maternal (or paternal) leave.  At 1 in 4,800, the US has one of the highest mortality rates in the developed world, according to the report.  “A woman in the Unites States is more than five times as likely as a woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece or Italy to die from pregnancy-related causes in her lifetime and her risk of maternal death is nearly 10-fold that of a woman in Ireland,” the report said.

However, the resources provided, in addition to future ones, such as Fit and Fearless Birth, are a start in providing more resources for new mothers to help lower PPD rates, improve their health, and increase their sense of well being.

Green Parenting & Family Life
Green parenting can go a long ways toward improving the health of America’s mothers, families, children, and of the entire planet.  I encourage all parents to reduce, reuse, and recycle (The 3-R’s) when they can.

Simple strategies include ridding the home of unnecessary chemicals like cleaners, pesticides in the yard and garden like weed killers and fertilizers, adopting a “No Shoes” policy in your house, avoiding use of all plastics, and using cloth napkins and cloth diapering (and wipes) systems whenever possible.  Lastly, we make a point to grow our own organic food (we have limited space but make great use of a small raised box and container gardening) when we can and when we can’t – we shop local, organic, and stick to a mostly plant based diet. My own family has adopted all of these 3-R policies, and we are healthier and happier for it.

 

Sources:
Josefsson A, Berg G, Nordin C, et al. Prevalence of depressive symptoms in late pregnancy and postpartum. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2001;80:251-255. Abstract
Women on the Front Lines of Health Care: State of the World’s Mothers 2010. Save The Children May 2010.  

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