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Why All Moms Deserve Postnatal Care

Pregnancy is a complex moment in life; it can be even more difficult and challenging in the weeks immediately following the birth of your newborn. When embarking on this journey, we at Alma Care believe that all mothers deserve the offering of  when starting on the journey of motherhood.

For countless new mothers, that moment before leaving the hospital or birthing center can be overwhelming. While the joy of having your precious newborn in your arms is profound, the realization sets in as you go through the discharge paperwork. You're about to embark on caring for your newborn at home, and you're exhausted from childbirth. Your body and mind are grappling with the months of nurturing a new life.

This marks the commencement of the postpartum period, often referred to as the "fourth trimester." Whether you're a first-time mother or seasoned in childbirth, it can feel like a daunting challenge. You might yearn for a hospital nurse to accompany you home or wish for an overnight doula to guide you through the nights. The wealth of knowledge gained during prenatal baby classes might elude you, and the desire to sleep for days competes with the reality of sleepless nights ahead.

This is precisely why many cultures worldwide provide mothers with the opportunity to rest and recuperate after childbirth, with the support of close friends and family. It's a practice known globally as "postpartum care." In certain countries, such as South Korea, women check into postnatal hotels to receive care immediately after childbirth. This very concept inspired Alma Care, our postnatal retreat company.

Alma Care recognized the lack of postnatal services for mothers in Canada, where mothers are often discharged from the hospital less than 24 hours after giving birth, left to navigate the challenges on theirunderscored the critical importance of nurturing women's health during the six-week postnatal period through proactive post-delivery care, not only for their well-being but also for their children's health.

With this mission in mind, Alma Care was established by our co-founders, who collaborated with postpartum doulas, certified lactation consultants, and industry experts to design a comprehensive postpartum retreat. Alma Care’s retreat programming  covers everything needed to establish a strong foundation for the recovery and development of both mother and baby, including lactation support, postpartum doula care, postnatal massages, and nutritious meals.

Defining Postpartum Care

Postpartum care, also known as postnatal care, takes place in the immediate weeks following childbirth. During this crucial period, new mothers undergo physical healing from childbirth while grappling with hormonal fluctuations associated with post-birth and breastfeeding. Additionally, it's a time when first-time mothers in particular need guidance in caring for their infants, including feeding, bathing, and swaddling.

The Current State of Postpartum Care

Unfortunately, the reality is bleak for most new mothers in Canada, where there is minimal to no postpartum care or support available after leaving the hospital. As some doulas put it, "We are very far behind in terms of postnatal care for women; it's a black hole. Moms are running around trying to find their resources and suffering."

Even the typical postpartum appointment with an OBGYN often focuses on ensuring no immediate physical complications from childbirth. The emphasis is placed on factors like resuming exercise and sexual activity, which many new mothers, at that point, find too exhausting to contemplate.

In contrast, various cultures around the world prioritize the mother's recovery in the postpartum care model. For instance, Korean mothers consider the weeks following birth as the most critical period for maintaining their health. 80% of Korean mothers check into postpartum care centers known as "sanhujoriwon," where they receive 24-hour support, including nourishing meals, massages, and crucial infant care, allowing them to rest.

In Israel, maternity hotels, or "milonit" (baby hotels), offer mothers a chance to recover with their newborns, starting as soon as 12 hours after delivery. These hotels provide breastfeeding support and counselling from nurses, along with a nursery on-site. In Latin American cultures, including Mexico, the 40 days after giving birth are termed "la cuarentena," a period for new mothers to rest and recover while receiving support from their community.

However, some new immigrants in Canada women have faced challenges in maintaining this tradition, as healthcare providers often fail to understand or trivialize this custom, hindering access to professional postpartum support.

A natal retreat like Alma Care aims to bridge the gap between hospital and home, taking responsibility for the comprehensive care of mothers in the postnatal stage.

Benefits of Postpartum Care for Mothers

The need for postpartum care is evident in the significant health and well-being benefits it offers to both mothers and babies. Contemporary research underscores that evidence-based post-birth care not only benefits mothers and their infants immediately but also shapes both their lifelong health.

According to the Journal of Perinatal Education, "Women's health after delivery is the most important factor affecting the health of their children." The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now advocates for an ongoing and tailored postpartum care process, starting within the first three weeks postpartum.

Rest Facilitates Recovery and Reduces the Risk of Postpartum Depression

Aside from the physical exhaustion following childbirth, fatigue from caring for a newborn is a significant risk factor for postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).  n the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing highlights that "Fatigue by Day 14 postpartum was the most predictive variable for symptoms of PPD on Day 28." Rest and support in caring for the newborn, including diapering, bathing, and feeding, enable mothers to recover and attend to their mental health.

Balanced Meals Aid Postpartum Recovery

Mothers often focus on caring for their newborns and may neglect their own nutritional needs. However, proper nutrition is crucial for healing from childbirth and supporting milk production for breastfeeding mothers. Alma Care emphasizes nutritionally-designed meals that cater to the unique needs of mothers, providing essential calories, vitamins, and minerals for emotional and physical recovery.

Early Support Enhances Breastfeeding Outcomes

Breastfeeding can present unexpected challenges, from latching issues to milk supply concerns. Research shows that breastfeeding outcomes significantly improve when nursing mothers receive resources and guidance. Access to postpartum doulas, certified lactation consultants, and the right tools can help address.

The myriad of benefits becoming known to modern science, and known for centuries in cultural traditions, that post-natal care offers is why we’re so excited to offer this service to Canadians. Motherhood is a difficult but exciting time, and we at Alma Care want to do our part to help the next generation of Canadian mothers on this journey.

August 18, 2023
Hana McConville
Co-founder & former CEO of Alma Care