The United States lacks a culture of postpartum care. Our social and medical traditions follow an “infant first after birth” approach, meaning the attention and nurturing offered to a woman during pregnancy are quickly transferred to her new baby after birth. As a result, new families are left to navigate the vulnerable postpartum period alone (see a list of challenges below).
In other parts of the world, and in past eras, the postpartum period is and was considered a special time that warranted a “mother first after birth” approach. This outlook acknowledges medically, and culturally, the needs of women after childbirth: to heal; bond with the baby; learn infant care; and emotionally transition into motherhood. And of course, these needs are met in the context of community.
Postpartum Challenges in the US
The cultural myth of the "Super Mom" sets unrealistic expectations for parents. This unattainable ideal contributes to a lack of preparation for realities of parenthood, causing extra stress.
Poor Parental Mental Health
The United States has a high rate of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), like postpartum depression. 1 in 5 moms and 1 in 10 dads suffer from postpartum mental health challenges.
Lack of Healthcare After Birth
Postpartum health care in the U.S. typically consists of a 1-2 day hospital stay and a single follow-up visit with a provider six weeks later (research shows up to half of moms skip this appointment). By the time a provider sees a new mom, they have may missed the opportunity to prevent the onset of postpartum depression and other PMADs, and physical health complications.
Lack of Family-Friendly Policies
The United States has a lack of national and state-level policies that protect parents. We are one of only four countries in the world without guaranteed paid parental leave and we lack universal, affordable childcare. Protections for women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding are either nonexistent, or difficult to enforce.
Many parents are increasingly isolated from neighbors, friends, and extended family. This is especially true in the transient community of Champaign County.