Birth “Culture” Fail (It’s not all about throwing money at it?).

I saw this article on the lack of post partum care in the US (where I live). And I thought, “it’s been awhile since I gave a good rant.”

Argh! It still boggles my mind why this is true. IJ’s employer grants only 3 days of paid paternity leave, and after a hard pregnancy that ate up paid vacation time, those were all the days we had (baby born near the end of the year). We managed to stretch it to a week because of weekend days, and a hurricane canceling work (yes, really), and a few unpaid days (which was a real hardship on our finances). Even so, it wasn’t even enough time for me to get out of bed. It means that, almost 10 months later, I’m still struggling to recover.

I had midwives and a home birth, and the extra care and lack of interventions that that entails (and my own bed–interventions usually require more recovery time). I had the placenta encapsulated to help me recover iron and ease gently off of the hormones (helps with ppd, too) in the weeks following birth. I had my mom living around the corner and able to help with the house and my firstborn during the day. I had a freezer full of meals I had already made.

I had all this, and I still felt abandoned. My mom couldn’t be there all the time. I was going out of my mind from lack of sleep because my daughters would take it in turns to nap, and, for most of the time after that first week, I was the only one to take care of them. And we couldn’t afford to hire help because our very expensive employer-provided insurance doesn’t cover home birth (my first child required 4 hours of pushing and was almost 10.5 pounds; hospital wasn’t an option with history like that in an area with a 50% c-section rate), so we were pretty broke paying the midwives.

And another aspect no one talks about is the incredible loneliness that goes along with feeling confined and abandoned and overworked and exhausted (not to mention having someone who still thinks announcing every poop or what her toys are fighting about are some of the best ways to start a conversation as your main conversation partner).

Everything about birth culture (ironic use of the word culture? Yes, sir!) in this country can be described as unfriendly and expensive. Yep, that sums it up nicely. I mean, not nicely. It’s pretty crappy, actually. I mean, well, you know what I mean. There was lots of money available to us in all the wrong places (expensive health insurance, but no homebirth coverage, and no real paternity leave).

I had as good and traditional an experience as a new mom can get in this country, and it was still not even close to half of what I needed.

Frustrating. It’s almost enough to make one want to move to Iceland.

What are your all’s post partum experiences? I know not all of you are in the US…

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