Thursday, February 5, 2009

Postpartum Links: Listening and Healing

More postpartum posts to follow, once I'm post-whirlwind-trip-to-Boston and have caught up around here! Until then:

The Power of Listening

I love this quote in the recent Midwivery Today E-newsletter on communication, from Dr. Rachel Remen:
"The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."
Obviously this relates to all times of our lives, but I think it is especially pertinant during labor and birth. Just listening to a mom talking about how much labor hurts is validating: she may not be asking someone to "fix" it - she just needs someone to hear her. There's a terrific segment on this excellent video, which I highly recommend (and keep in my lending library!): Gentle Birth Choices. And "We Ain't Broke, Don't Fix Us" is a great blog entry on this topic.

Listening during the postpartum period can also be incredibly valuable. I recently read about a study re: the power of listening for postpartum moms, on a RaisingMaine blog . For more information, read "Peer Phone Calls Prevent Postpartum Depression in at-Risk Mothers". The article explains that,
"Phone calls from volunteer mothers who overcame postpartum depression prevent depressive symptoms in at-risk mothers, a Canadian study shows.

"Mothers who received this support were at half the risk of depressive symptoms 12 weeks after delivery," says study leader Cindy-Lee Dennis, PhD, Canada research chair in perinatal community health at the University of Toronto.

It's the first big study to show that postpartum depression can be prevented without intensive home care, Dennis says.

The study included 701 women at risk of postpartum depression. Half got standard postnatal care and half got peer support. With standard care, 25% of the mothers had significant depressive symptoms 12 weeks after delivery. About half as many women who got peer support -- 14% -- had such symptoms."
Another place to listen and be listened to, and that offers peer support, is the New Mothers Support Circle I'm hosting here in Winthrop, on 2nd and 4th Thursdays - this month we're getting together on February 12th and February 27th.

Perineal Healing

Another Midwifery Today E-newsletter that fits with entry focuses on Postpartum Perineal Healing, with some great tips from Elizabeth Davis:
"Physicians commonly have women return for a checkup at six weeks postpartum to assess the healing of the perineum and to make recommendations for contraception, as appropriate. But most women are told little or nothing about how to care for the perineum in the interim, or how to watch for warning signals of infection like swelling or inflammation. Pain is an important signal of problems too, but it may go unnoticed if a woman is taking painkillers during the first few days, the most critical time for healing.

I suggest that women use ice packs for 24 hours to reduce swelling, and then switch to sitz baths several times daily using hot water with selected herbs. Nothing speeds healing faster than heat, and soaking is far superior to topical application as it more deeply stimulates circulation. Fresh ginger is a good addition to the solution; it helps relieve the itching that often occurs as stitches dissolve and the skin heals.

Here is how I recommend women take a sitz bath: Grate a 3- to 4-inch piece of ginger root into a large pot of water; simmer twenty minutes; strain and divide into two portions. Save one for later in the day, and dilute the first with water in a sitz bath. After soaking for twenty minutes, thoroughly dry the perineum and expose to air or sunlight for another 10 minutes before putting on a fresh pad (or use a hair dryer to speed the process). If the perineum feels at all sticky, use aloe vera gel to dry and soothe the tissues. Avoid vitamin E or other oil-based ointments until the skin is healed over, as these tend to keep edges from closing."
The Mother-Hero

For dessert, read this thought-provoking article from Birthing From Within's Pam England, "Mother-Hero on the Hudson".

We are strong! Listen, and be listened to.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
New Mothers Support Circle

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