Taking Care of Mamas

I could not fall asleep last night.

I was haunted by an NPR article I read about maternal mortality rates in the United States. The article shared the heartbreaking story of Lauren Bloomstein, a new mother who died 20 hours after the birth of her daughter because her medical team failed to notice the symptoms of HELLP, the most severe variation of preeclampsia. The article suggests that American women are suffering and dying because our health care system focuses too much on the babies and not enough on the women delivering them.

I completely agree.

In a baby’s first year of life, she will see her pediatrician no less than seven times (3 to 5 days after birth and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 months), but her mother will only see a doctor once (six weeks after birth). In my opinion, at the bare minimum, new mothers should see doctors at 1, 4, 9 and 12 months post partum.

When I was pregnant with the twins last year, I was seeing a doctor up to three times per week for ultrasounds, non-stress tests and routine exams. After a pre-term labor scare and a pre-eclampsia diagnosis, concerns for my health and my babies’ survival dominated my every thought.  So much care went into the safe delivery of Elinor and Juliet, so when they were born and I was discharged from the hospital I felt a little uneasy with the abrupt end to our care. For 36 weeks, so many people were so concerned…and then all of a sudden they just didn’t care anymore. It is still hard for me to process.

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I was very fortunate to have some wonderful L&D nurses (especially Amanda, Dana and Ellen) during my deliveries. I know they care about babies and mothers, but they are stifled by a system that pushes women out of the hospital a day after delivery. In my opinion, women deserve at least four nights in a hospital after GIVING LIFE TO A NEW HUMAN BEING, but unfortunately, insurance companies don’t ask me for advice when determining these sorts of things…

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A week after Mack was born a wonderful lactation consultant came to our home to help me with a few breastfeeding issues. She was so kind and gentle and calm. I felt better being in her care for a couple hours, and after she left I mentioned to Chris how nice it would be if all new mothers could have a woman like her stop by for a check-in. How much healthier and happier would we all be if post-partum issues like depression, excessive bleeding, infections, and breast problems were routinely and regularly screened for, rather than chased after??

For so many reasons, health care in America is completely screwed up. If we can’t/don’t/won’t address the needs of new mothers, where are our priorities?

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Written by Maureen

More posts by: Maureen

2 Comments for this entry

  1. Amanda says:

    I completely agree!! I was discharged from the hospital 25 hours after giving birth with both kids. After my first, I was a complete wreck crying histerically because I was in so much pain and scared to take my newborn home when I didn’t think I could actually take care of my own body. It’s really unacceptable. At least with the ACA things like birth control pills and breast pumps are included with health insurance. Unfortunately, even those basic resources are at jeopardy if it is repealed. We can and should be doing so much more for women in our country giving birth to babies.

  2. H says:

    Thank you for this!! I have been thinking about this report all weekend as well. The fact that it came out Mother’s Day weekend is certainly not lost on me. Your experience highlights the absolute hypocrisy as well – tests and monitoring like crazy while pregnant, but once those babies are out, the care all but ends. With my 2nd, I was actually relieved to be discharged after 2 days (with a c-section) because I wanted to be home with my oldest, but now looking back that was probably too soon on the part of the hospital. I’m questioning everything now. Let’s pray this report spurs some dramatic changes in maternal care!

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