It takes a village to raise a child.
We’ve all heard this proverb, but after having a baby in England and having a baby here, I can tell you first hand that most American women aren’t receiving the post-partum support they deserve, and that makes me angry.
When I had Hudson, a midwife came to my house every. single. day. for two weeks to check on me. She checked to make sure my placenta was shrinking, she checked to make sure Hudson had a good latch, she weighed him to make sure he was healthy, she encouraged me and she took my calls at any time of the day. She supported me.
Instead of “well child” visits where they plot your child on a line and call for the next baby, you have weekly weigh-in’s with every other mom in the village. That same midwife who came and took care of you and your baby at your house waits at the local church or doctors’ office every week to see how you’re doing and to see how your baby is doing. They actually listen. They genuinely care, and if there is a problem, they will take the time to help you work through it, even if it means coming to your house over and over and over again.
In England, when your baby turns three months old, you get a letter in the mail inviting you to a local baby massage class at your doctors office for free. Once a week you get to go to this class and learn techniques that will help soothe your baby, help their tummy, and support their growing bodies. You also get to meet other moms with babies your age. You’re reminded that you aren’t alone in this journey.
It was during this baby massage class that the teacher pulled me aside and recommended that I see a doctor about Hudson’s reflux. I had no idea he had reflux. He was my first baby. I thought he was just a fussy baby. I thought that baby spit up was normal. If it wasn’t for this group, I never would have known otherwise.
In America, you have your baby, you leave the hospital, and if you have problems then you better know the answer yourself because no one really seems to care about you once you step foot out of that hospital. There is no postpartum support. A six-week check-up? Really? What about what happens in those six weeks? Who will be there to tell us if what we’re experiencing is healthy and normal or maybe something we should be concerned about?
So many moms leave the hospital afraid because they don’t feel supported and they don’t know what to do. They voice their concerns to pediatricians who have quotas to hit and other patients to see. As long as your baby is growing on that line, they tell you not to worry. They don’t seem to listen. A mother’s intuition seems to be ignored here.
We deserve better.
What about in the delivery room? With Hudson, all I heard was a group of midwives and doctors telling me, “You can do this. How can I support you?” In America, my doctor checked my cervix and I said “ouch” and his response was, “If you can’t handle my hand, you’ll never be able to push out this baby. Should I get you an epidural?” That. is. wrong.
In England, women can get up to 39 weeks of paid leave after having a baby. YEP. Thirty-nine weeks. In America, there is no such thing as paid leave. I mean, why would a woman need time off after pushing a baby out of her vagina, not sleeping, learning how to be a parent, and bonding with her new baby who she carried for nine months.
We deserve better.
I’m proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of the way that we treat our mothers. I’m ashamed of the way some doctors and pediatricians treat us like numbers instead of people with real questions. I hate that I can’t have a conversation with my children’s doctor without feeling like somehow I’m getting on their nerves.
Parents, we deserve better.
America, we deserve better.