Since becoming a postpartum companion nearly three years ago, I have heard many very personal stories, birth stories, hospital stories. One reoccurring theme I encounter is how the mother’s birth experience to be described as “fine”, only to feel very alone and unsupported during their hospital stay.
These stories, sometimes reflecting painful experiences, make pointedly clear the importance of mother care directly after birth.
The staffing situation at most hospitals, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired. There are often not enough personell to support a mother at this vulnerable time. With the birth experience still very fresh, navigating sensitive skin tissues or a fresh scar from an operative birth, rapidly changing breasts and insecurity of how to care for the new precious baby, new mothers easily experience feelings of being overwhelmed.
A few weeks ago while reading Facebook posts, I replied to a woman in exactly this situation. Her breasts were engorged, she had a painful overproduction of milk. Unfortunately, she was being pressured by well-meaning staff to pump every hour and to drink large amounts of water. Exactly the worse action to take in such a situation.
She was confused and disheartened that the staff was not recognizing her painful condition, not taking it seriously, barely responding to fairly basic requests.
Upon entering Irina’s room, I quickly acclimated to her intimate surroundings. I could see that she was in pain and very much in need of care. She was physically and emotionally drained, needing an empathetic person to help her digest her experience within the past 24 hours.
After assessing Irina’s situation, I explained what I thought was the best course of action. Although Irina explained to me that she is usually never comfortable being touched by other people, she agreed to allow me to massage her engorged breasts.
The hour-long, slow-paced breast massage worked wonders. After three days of this specific therapy, practicing relaxation methods and supporting Irina to process her birth experience, Irina’s breasts were producing a perfect amount of milk and breastfeeding was swimmingly successful. About a week later Irina called me to thank me again, and gave me a huge compliment; she said that I had “a unique ability to very gently ease myself into her personal space, in a comfortable manner”, and that my support “help her greatly”.
Sigh. Irina’s feedback is exactly what fuels my passion to support new mothers; the bringers of life, living Goddesses, in my eyes. I was very grateful that I was able to help Irina. This experience inspired me to offer expecting mothers in-hospital support.
Now expecting expat mothers can begin their birth process with the security of knowing that I am on-call for them five days before and five days after their due date. During this time, I am dedicated to supporting them in their hospital room while they recover from the birth, navigating possible language barriers with staff, and learning to care for their newborn.