Nearly every time I attend a maternity conference, I realize that we are STILL in crisis. There is a huge crisis in maternity care in nearly every corner of the world. That crisis is that we break the circle of maternity care: pregnancy-birth-postpartum.
In few cases, there is continuity of care. However for the vast majority of women, there is no continuity from preconception to breastfeeding. The medical community continues to fiercely treat us separately: mind, body, spirit, mother, baby. If it makes so much more sense to have this circle of caring, why don't we do it?
Preconception is virtually ignored, however a search of the medical literature demonstrates that a healthy and planned preconception period leads to healthier pregnancy outcomes. Likewise, a healthy pregnancy plan also increases the likelihood of healthier pregnancy outcomes. As eloquently pointed out in her book "Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding", Linda J. Smith defines the ways that our birthing practices are negatively (and positively) impacting breastfeeding. Likewise, how we treat women during pregnancy and during the postpartum period can influence their outcomes, especially for those suffering from pregnancy mood and anxiety disorders. A glitch in the system often greatly impacts the mother-baby dyad. We cannot afford to do this to our society.
I have put the call out before, and it needs repeating. Childbirth educators & doulas together need to lead the way in preserving the circle of care. We need to step up our education of expectant parents. Armed with the evidence, such as in the ICEA Position Papers, educators and doulas need to work together in our communities with lactation consultants and postpartum doulas to enhance the circle of care so that the circle is maintained and is recognized as valuable.
When women have the information, they will feel more comfortable asking for clarification. Give a list of valuable websites such as Childbirth Connection where the research has already been done and it is a reputable/research-based resource.
One person cannot alone make a change in maternity care. But together, professionals can move to educate women so that they will be asking for information and for change!