By: Kelly Glass| June 10, 2020
"Asia Davis welcomed home her now two-month-old baby at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. From the start, things didn’t go as planned. Davis was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which black women are at a 63 percent higher risk of, and was required to get regular non-stress tests to monitor the health of her baby. Two weeks before her due date, her midwife explained the results of her recent non-stress test were “off,” and she needed to give birth right then.
“I cried and I begged to go home and get my stuff,” says Davis. “I had a birth plan. I wanted to labor at home before coming to the hospital, but now that wasn’t going to happen.”
A maternal-fetal specialist sent her immediately to labor and delivery, where a series of unexpected events continued. Davis’ baby’s heart rate was too high, and doctors and nurses rushed to get him out. He was fine after a frightening birth: When her son finally made his grand entrance, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and body. “He wasn’t moving,” Davis said. “It was really scary, especially with nobody telling me anything.”
No visitors were allowed at the hospital where she gave birth, in Cleveland, Ohio’s COVID-19 epicenter, on March 26. So although her partner was with her for the birth, her mother and family weren’t able to visit for the three days she was there. Again, it wasn’t the scenario she had pictured, adding to her distress.
The postpartum period has been equally as isolated. It’s been just her and her partner and their new baby. Davis was diagnosed with postpartum depression, and with a lack of physical connection and a present support system because of social distancing guidelines, she’s struggling. Her partner, she says, is depressed too, so most of the child care burden falls on her. “I’m doing this alone, and it’s just too much. I need help.” On top of that, Davis is facing going back to work and finding childcare for her infant during a pandemic, which adds another huge set of worries.
According to a recently released report by Aeroflow Healthcare, 56 percent of new moms said they had family and friends stay with them to help out. Still, 48 percent said they struggled with postpartum depression and 39 percent with social support isolation. Postpartum depression, a serious mood disorder, affects 1 in 7 women and can last for months if left untreated, according to the American Psychological Association. Other postpartum mood disorders, namely postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PP-PTSD), can occur when childbirth is stressful and traumatic. To add to that, according to a 2018 study in Frontiers in Psychiatry, low social support is a significant risk factor for PP-PTSD. And those findings came during what now seems like a faraway time when baby showers, hospital visitors, and family coming over was the norm. Now, moms not only face postpartum depression and stressful birth experiences like Davis’, but are even more isolated than before — and the effects are yet unseen."
Finland just gave both parents 7 months of parental leave. Here's why it could drastically reduce postpartum depression in the country.
By Allana Akhtar| February 7, 2020
Photo: Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin just approved 7 months of parental leave for both parents. Reuters.
"Finland may have made a significant move in reducing postpartum depression among new moms.
The country's government, led by 34-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin, will give both new parents seven months of parental leave after childbirth. Pregnant women get an additional month of leave before giving birth.
The updates will replace the country's current policy that provides gender-based pay for four months for new mothers and two months for new fathers, according to NPR. The new policy will go into effect in 2021.
Marin says the move will improve gender equality and is part of her government's plan to pass wide-sweeping social reforms. Marin is the youngest female prime minister in the world, and a majority of her cabinet members are women.
Along with giving fathers more time with their newborns, the progressive policy can improve new mothers' physical and mental health, research suggests, and prevent postpartum depression.
Research finds that having both partners at home after childbirth improves a new mom's anxiety and wellbeing.
While everybody is focused on the baby after it's born, mothers are acutely at risk.
Worldwide, 17.7% of new mothers experience postpartum depression.
While the potential causes of maternal distress are many, new research on Sweden suggests that simply having fathers more available to help out with the newborn can lead to huge gains in mental health for mothers. Sweden has Europe's most generous parental leave, NPR reported, at 240 days per parent.
Mothers are 14% less likely to visit a doctor for childbirth-related complications when fathers are present for the first few of a baby's life. They are also 11% less likely to require antibiotic prescriptions, and 26% less likely to need anti-anxiety medication.
The new National Bureau of Economics working paper, authored by Stanford economists Petra Persson and Maya Rossin-Slater, focused on the impact of parental leave policies in the Nordic country, which offers some of the world's most generous parental leave."