Why it matters, and what to consider.
The postpartum period is a critical time for new mothers and their families. During this time, women experience physical and emotional changes, and may require additional support to ensure a healthy recovery. Appropriate and robust postpartum care is essential for the health and wellbeing of both mother and child, as well as the overall health of the family unit. Employers can play a key role in caring for mothers and new families during this time, through policies and benefits that prioritize postpartum support.
The Importance of Postpartum Care
The postpartum period is a time of significant physical and emotional change for women. The body goes through many significant changes during pregnancy and childbirth, and time to recover and adjust is essential for the physical and mental health of a birthing parent. Some of these changes are physical, but many are also happening chemically and hormonally and are often overlooked or minimized as women are expected to “bounce back” quickly and immediately prioritize their newborn’s needs above their own. Additionally, and as a result, postpartum depression affects up to 1 in 7 women in the United States. Without proper care and support, new mothers may struggle to recover physically and emotionally, which can have long-term consequences for their health and the wellbeing of their families.
Appropriate postpartum care and time to heal in every aspect can help new mothers to recover more effectively, both physically and emotionally. This can include a range of services and policies, from medical care to emotional support and counseling. It is important for employers to acknowledge the complexity and necessity of postpartum care, and to offer robust support to their employees during this time.
How Employers Can Support Postpartum Care
Employers have a key role to play in supporting postpartum care for their employees. This can include policies and benefits that prioritize postpartum care, as well as providing access to a range of services that can support new parents and set a growing family up for success in the early days, weeks, and months of welcoming a newborn.
One important way that employers can support postpartum care is by providing paid parental leave. Paid parental leave allows new parents to take time off work to recover and bond with their newborns without worrying about lost income. Additionally, employers can provide flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or part-time work, to help new parents balance their work and family responsibilities after the immediate postpartum period is over. “Ramp up” strategies are becoming more popular, as employers are extending paid parental leave (for all new parents, regardless of gender or birth-parent status), and offering a variety of phased solutions that allow for a more gradual re-entry to the workforce that benefits new parents and children alike.
Employers can also provide access to a range of postpartum care services, such as pelvic floor therapy, postpartum mental health counseling, doulas, lactation consultants, new parent groups, and other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services like acupuncture, massage, and yoga. These services offer a variety of types of support, and can play a vital role in the experience of becoming a parent or growing a family.
The Benefits of Supporting Postpartum Care
Supporting postpartum care can have a range of benefits for employers. Robust parental policies and benefits are proven to reduce employee turnover and increase employee satisfaction. By supporting new parents during one of their biggest life transitions, employers demonstrate that they value their employees and are committed to their wellbeing. This can help to build loyalty and trust, and can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and retention.
Supporting postpartum care can also have a positive impact on the bottom line. By reducing employee turnover and increasing employee satisfaction, employers can save on recruitment and training costs. Additionally, by providing access to postpartum care services, employers can help to reduce healthcare costs by promoting early intervention and preventing more serious health issues down the line for both parents and children.
CAM Services for Postpartum Care
CAM services, such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, postpartum doulas, pelvic floor physical therapy, and many others, can be particularly helpful for new parents during the postpartum period. These services can help to reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote relaxation, which can all contribute to a faster and more effective recovery, and a happier and more supported home environment.
Acupuncture, for example, has been shown to be effective in treating postpartum depression and anxiety. Massage can help to relieve pain and tension in the body, particularly in areas like the back and hips that may have been strained during pregnancy and childbirth. Yoga can help to improve flexibility and strength, which can be particularly helpful for managing the physical demands of caring for a newborn.
Pelvic floor therapy is another CAM service that can be beneficial for new mothers. This type of therapy focuses on strengthening the muscles in the pelvic floor, which can become weakened during pregnancy and childbirth. Strengthening these muscles with the assistance of an expert can support physical recovery, build core strength, and help to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor issues.
Nutrition can also play a pivotal role for new parents at this time. Running on less sleep and with different physical demands than they could have prepared for prior to their new arrival, working with a naturopathic doctor, registered dietitian, or functional medicine provider can set new parents up to maximize their energy levels, regulate hormones, and support breastfeeding in an optimal way.
Postpartum mental health counseling can also be an important CAM service for new mothers. This type of counseling can help new mothers to manage the emotional challenges that can arise during the postpartum period, such as postpartum depression and anxiety. By providing access to mental health counseling, employers can help to promote the overall mental health and wellbeing of their employees, and support a growing family at it’s foundation in a meaningful and impactful way for both parents and children.
Appropriate and robust postpartum care is essential for the health and wellbeing of new families. Employers can play a key role in supporting postpartum care through policies and benefits that prioritize this critical time. By providing access to a range of services, such as pelvic floor therapy, postpartum mental health counseling, doulas, lactation consultants, new parent support groups, and other CAM services, employers can help new mothers to adjust to this new phase of life more effectively, both physically and emotionally. Supporting postpartum care can have a range of benefits for employers, including reducing employee turnover, increasing employee satisfaction, and promoting better overall health and wellbeing for employees and their families.