How Can We Improve Women’s Healthcare During The “Golden Opportunities”?

If you haven’t yet, go check out “What Can We Learn From 20 Mom-Centered Birthing Traditions Around the World?” While studying up about such traditions around the world, I learned that the Chinese have something they refer to as women’s “three golden opportunities”: menstruation, postpartum, and menopause.

What Can We Learn From 20 Mom-Centered Birthing Traditions Around the World?

The thought is that during things times in a woman’s life, you can make the most effective health changes for better or for worse. Mental health can especially be affected during these times, and if women are shown appropriate support then they will be more likely to be more healthy in that cycle of their life – (whether that means until next month’s menstrual cycle, the next baby, or through their barren years). To make it quick, you can maybe even think of these times as a type of restart button for all kinds of physical, mental, social, and other goals.

Personally, I have been so blessed to be surrounded by loving family following the birth of both of my boys, and I absolutely attribute my sanity to that fact! So I’m on board with this theory.

Then, a few months ago I read something about a push in the USA to get women back into their OB-GYN or Family Practitioner sooner than the normal 6 week postpartum check-up. Um, yes please! With my first baby, I just did whatever the doctors told me, and had no complications, so I never really questioned anything. With this recent second pregnancy, there were no real complications, but I wasn’t quite so ignorant of what to expect. But no amount of preparation and prior experience can stop you from looking in the mirror, or feeling the aches and pains, and saying, “What the heck is happening to me?” So when I heard about this movement, I was totally on board. I have never had more personal health questions in my entire life than I did in the first few weeks after giving birth to both my babies. For someone who waits til the end is near before involving a doctor, these were weird periods of time when I wanted a doc on speed dial or a chat room. I could have absolutely benefited from weekly, if not daily, reassurances that what I was experiencing was (or wasn’t) normal and how to move forward in the recovery. I mean, Dr. Google is good and all, but can you really trust it like a person??? My thought – no way!

So I took to a FaceBook group to start a conversation and just see what others thought. I figured I had a lot I could learn on the topic, and boy did FaceBook not disappoint! This was my question, and I hope you join the conversation too:

“I’m curious – have any of the women here been involved in pushing for better women’s healthcare??? Maybe as a medical professional, lawmaker, or in any other capacity? If so, what did you do, and how can others get involved??”

Here are some of the answers:

“I find it interesting that there is so much more focus on the health of the baby than the mother. Sometimes even during the pregnancy. Baby gets a checkup days and 2 weeks after delivery, and frequently after that. The mother whose body is almost literally turned inside out bringing said baby into the world gets 6 weeks post partum, only more frequently if medically necessary, and only yearly thereafter.”

Kayla S. maybe didn’t answer my question, but summarized the issue well. Obviously babies are vulnerable, but moms are too , people!

“I’m a family doctor in Canada. I typically book an appointment for my post-partum parents at the same time as every well baby check. The 6 week visit is particular checkpoint for some things for me, but I definitely am not waiting until then to check in. Where I practice, obstetricians and paediatricians don’t typically provide primary care, they really mostly do specialist care (and family doctors do most low risk deliveries – we have some midwives too but not enough), so even if parent/baby is seeing a paediatrician or an obstetrician for some reason, they are still seeing me as their primary care provider. It makes it a lot easier to see them both because caring for both is within my scope of practice.”

Kathleen M. makes me want to move to Canada to have babies! I like her style. How do you all feel about this Canadian healthcare method???

” I like the U.K. health visitor option. I think the system needs to be arranged so every woman gets a few House call visits at least from a nurse or a midwife, regardless of place or mode of birth. Unfortunately in the US you only get good care if you luck out or know how to advocate for yourself!”

“I wouldn’t go to the hospital without a doula! (I feel like it’s like going to court unrepresented).” 

Erin O. had quite a few great things to say. But her second quote is what has stuck in my mind all this time. Going to the hospital without a doula (or I’ll also add midwife) is like going to court unrepresented. I thought about that a lot leading up to labor and delivery, hoping everything just worked out as smoothly as the first time. Thank goodness it did.

Some women shared with me times when they said “no” to waiting six weeks and were accommodated without hassle. Others mentioned that they happened to have very generous insurance plans that did allow for multiple appointments scheduled almost at the same rate that newborns are seen. But a real solution still needs to be found. We can each start by being the type of supporter we would want when adapting to a traumatic injury and life adjustment, and just start serving those new moms.

Now, my focus is leaning towards postpartum support because that’s where I currently am in life, but really this should be a discussion of all three “golden opportunities”! So – Where are you from and what kind of healthcare access do women have in your neck of the woods? How can we better advocate for women’s healthcare all over the world? What areas of the world need special attention in this regard right now? Let’s talk about it! Submit your ideas below to continue to conservation, and feel free to share resources and links that I can pass along as well!

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