Women need time and patience in maternity care: an interview with legendary midwife Martine Welter

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In the context of Luxmama Club & ParentPrep asbl’s “#choicetohaveamidwife” campaign, a Luxmama blog contributor met with Martine Welter one of the most experienced midwives in Luxembourg, who has actively worked for the upgrade of the midwives role in Maternity and birth for many years.

In 2019, during the 100 Celebration of the Association Luxembourgeoise Sages-Femmes (“ALSF”) Prime Minister Xavier Bettel announced some great news for midwives in Luxembourg, so we asked Martine to explain a bit more about these changes and also to talk about her philosophy around birth and home birth, as she is the only midwife currently
accompanying home-births in Luxembourg.

Martine Welter (left) at Luxmama’s 2019 Birth Culture Brunch

Question: We heard some good news regarding the midwives profession in Luxembourg
lately? Would you like to tell us more about that? What will be the effect in the
future? Also, how long have Luxembourg midwives been trying actively to
achieve this change?

Martine: It’s our new midwifery “Reglementation” (regulation) concerning the competencies
and “techniques” we are or are not allowed to do. As the “old” one from 1981, even
though quite good and coherent for our profession and adapted to the European
Directives issued in 1980, needed a “lifting”, adapting to new techniques and
situation. Since at least 2006, we started with a working group at the ministry of health, that’s
just to say what time and energy it takes. We wanted to have the law for the new
curriculum for midwifery education that switched in 2012, but discussions were very
difficult and we needed to be very attentive and take care not to lose from our
responsibilities and autonomy, like being able to prescribe different medications.


Why do you think if birth is the same in humans do we have such very
different maternity care systems over the world?

Martine: You have different maternity care systems in different countries because in general
the health care system is different. In the United States for instance, you have
private care systems whereas in Luxembourg If you work you are supposed to have
your Social Security and then a lot of things are paid back by Social Security. There
is no difference between private and public system, this can create limitations in
choices.

Do you know the history of midwives here in Luxembourg? By which country
was the Luxembourgish system influence/resembles?

Martine: The first maternity was at the end of the 19th century and they had also the maternity
and midwifery school because before that the midwives were trained in France or in
Germany and the system here in Luxembourg is somehow based on these different
systems in the countries all along the road in Luxembourg. In 1967 the midwives were
no longer a medical profession, but they turned it to para-medical profession. This
situation resulted in midwives losing their autonomy and it is part of what we are
complaining about for a long time. This situation means we can mostly work if a
doctor gives a prescription.

What is your impression of the midwifery training in Luxembourg and how can
it be improved? Where did you do your training?

Martine: Only in 2012 it has become a direct entry profession. That means after a Bac
technique or classic you go into three years of midwifery before that it used to be
based on the nursing diploma. That means you had to do the nursing training and
then spend two more years to become a midwife. So, we were supposed to be a
specialized nurse, which is not the case. So we got the direct entry system for
midwifery but it has to become a four years Bachelors diploma, like in other
countries, because in three years getting to know what midwives really needs to
know is very concentrated and according to European standards, we are supposed
to conduct autonomously 40 deliveries which is again not very easy to have these
amounts of deliveries.

What do you think about the quality of maternity care in Luxembourg and how
it can be improved upon?

Martine: I would not say that the quality is bad but it often has very high rates of interventions.
The idea is to go into bigger and bigger maternity units and to close smaller units.
Before, there were seven Maternities here in the country and they closed the smaller
ones because they were not financially viable. As a midwife I think of course that
birth should not be looked only as a profit making business. With maternity care a
woman giving birth needs time and patience. So in Luxembourg there is not much place for these things. For me the opportunity would be now to put on a system, similar to other countries, called an ABC (Alternative Birth Center) system. In this system a Birth center (free-standing or an alongside midwifery unit) is the place where women with a normal non-complicated pregnancy are going and there, midwives have the responsibility for the pregnancies. Only if some problem arises and they need medical care the doctor will come into
this unit and see what is necessary.

Also, currently there is high use of synthetic oxytocin. Doctors are not taking into account that
sometimes a woman goes into labor and then labour stops and she might go back into labor
tomorrow. She simply needs to rest and not be given oxytocin to accelerate labour, however it’s understandable that in the hospital setting and organization there is a push not to occupy a bed too long… So, a good alternative would be to let the women that is having a normal pregnancy taken over by a midwifery-led-unit and doctors to only take over when a problem exists or arises. Also, for midwives and doctors to cooperate. A good example would be a Birth Center.

As a midwife I think of course that birth should not be looked only as a profit making business. With maternity care a woman giving birth needs time and patience. So in Luxembourg there is not much place for these things.

Martine Welter

How would you describe equality between the midwifery and obstetric profession? Does it exist?


Martine: There is no equality between the midwives and doctors, they are two different
professions. We are supposed to take care of everything that’s physiological and the doctors are mostly trained to deal with pathology. And I always say it’s like a
train, you know a train runs on two rails and you need the two rails. So, in maternity
care we need them both. I know it’s a different job. So equality for me is respect for
every one’s profession. We need both to go on. So it’s not necessary to have equality but is is absolutely necessary to have respect!

What is your birth philosophy? Do you see birth as important in the context of
the larger society?

Martine: In Luxembourg there was a discussion about choosing how you die but there is none
around birth rights and how you would like to be born! These are both situations that
will only happen only once in everyone’s life. You will only be born once and you will only die once! So, I believe it’s important to carefully consider these two issues and why it is important how you are born.

Like some others said already before me, my philosophy around birth is also that being pregnant and giving birth is not an illness. Up to 90 percent of pregnancies are with no complications and that should also be with births. Birth should not be something that that there is some economical thinking about. In the past, the hospitals in general were run by a
congregation and the nuns were not paid much. Nowadays a hospital is an enterprise, a business with priority on “rentability” and not so much what would be the best for the mother and child: patience, time and to intervene as least as possible. But that brings no money….

It’s always the woman who does the work in birth and for me again what matters in supporting birth is patience, respect and plenty of time.

Martine Welter

The European Convention of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right
to respect for his private and family life…” and observed that “…the
circumstances of giving birth incontestably form part of one’s private life”. Do
you believe birthing families here in Luxembourg have freedom of choice in birth? Will this now change?

Martine: While it’s true that, in some ways, in Luxembourg until now, a woman cannot
choose, because when she is pregnant, she has to give birth in the Maternity that the
doctor who follows her pregnancy works with.

Also, we only have 4 Maternities so there is not much choice in type of facility. In
other countries she follows a doctor during pregnancy and then she decides which
system she is going to give birth at, public or private or at home, in a small unit or in a
university hospital. As women rise up more, things might change, but … things change veeery slowly and don’t forget, they have already changed over all these years, in the 80’s for
example, a water-birth was not possible!

What is you role in pregnancy, birth or post-natally currently and in the past?

Martine: I was trained in Belgium, it was not a direct entry, I first became a nurse. Then I
came here and did a higher nurse degree and trained as head nurse. I was trained
also as a midwife and learned that midwives take care of pregnant women, women
giving birth and post-natally. When I came here I saw that I could only work in a
Maternity and I started quite early to do prenatal education courses with Initiative
Liewensufank because this was the only way to see pregnant couples and talk about
birth before meeting them in the Maternity during labor. The fact that in Luxembourg
midwifes were not very involved in pregnancy was not how I was trained and saw my
way of working as a midwife. I worked in Maternity at the delivery unit and then at the
Postnatal unit as a head midwife. I worked there during the rooming-in
implementation in the 80s it was hard to implement at the beginning.
I worked with the ALSF to get the right for women to get an early
discharge and for midwives to visit at home and get reimbursed by CNS which we
achieved in 1993!

Then I left the Maternity and worked as an independent midwife. At that time, I decided to learn more about home deliveries and I therefore stayed in The Netherlands with a Dutch midwife and learned about their system, how they take care of pregnant women and accompany them to give birth at home. In The Netherlands pregnant women go to the midwife first and if she sees a problem, she will send her to the doctor. Once a week they meet and discuss which
women should go to the hospital and which will remain under the midwives care. In the Netherlands, I attended my first home birth and realized what birth actually was all about! The midwife just stood and waited, and the woman did all the work. There were some midwives in the 90s doing that in Luxembourg, then I took over with some other colleagues and now actually I have about 3 to 12 home births per year. I do have exclusion criteria, like for instance first time mothers I just do a couple if someone asks me to. For me it is not “The” thing to do. You need to discuss with your partner with the midwife and prepare for it. If there are Birth centers or midwifery led units
available and function well the home birth is not that necessary.

In the Netherlands, I attended my first home birth and realized what birth actually was all about! The midwife just stood and waited, and the woman did all the work.

Martine Welter

Do you think the rate of medical interventions in pregnancy and birth in
Luxembourg is satisfactory? Seeing the c-section rate of over 30% how do you
think it can be reduced?

Martine: Yes the rate is quite high here in Luxembourg compared to other European
countries. You know the Germans have what it’s called “Geburtshilfe” and we do a
lot of what is called “Geburtsmedezin”. OK so if you would go back to “Geburtshilfe”
and leave more time and have more midwives working at the units (because
currently in the hospitals, midwives need to support too many birthing women at once) then you might be able to reduce all these interventions. Of course, this comes again to the bottom line and how uneconomical natural birth is. But all is a matter of choosing where to spend money, were to invest! And investing in the way babies are born and a woman’s right to choose how she will give birth is the right thing to do.

Investing in the way babies are born and a woman’s right to choose how she will give birth is the right thing to do.

Martine Welter

More about the contributor

Christina Anyfanti is a Certified Postpartum Professional & part of the Newborn Mothers Collective as well as a Birthlight™ Motherhood & Baby Yoga Teacher.

She also has a Diploma in Counseling Psychology among others. happynewmama.lu

What’s Green Parenting?

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“#greenparenting is about making conscious choices, good for us, our children AND good for our planet. Creating little humans and accumulating stuff as we raise them, accrues a heavy ecological footprint. It’s their future after all, so it makes sense to be mindful about how we support nature, not only take from nature…”  –     Luxmama

In 2019, the European Economic and Social Committee along with Make Mothers Matter hosted a seminar highlighting the importance of engaging families as changemakers for sustainable development.

EESC President Luca Jahier explained that families, as the cradles of the passing-on of
cultures, traditions and behaviour to the next generation, have a key role to play here. Firstly, because parents focus naturally on the well-being of their children and this characteristic makes them natural candidates to pass on the message of sustainability.

Secondly, in view of the role of mothers specifically, in despite of shifts in society, more than a third of women in the EU still work for free while caring for their family members, and almost 80% of those working outside the home nonetheless cook or do the housework to a much larger extent than men. This means that, at least in the domestic domain, they are the ones deciding what to consume, and are thus primarily concerned when making more sustainable choices. Thirdly, still in view of the role of women: because, when working, women are still over-represented in sectors such as healthcare, care and
education, which are paramount for people’s well-being, and they can use their position to push for sustainable options.

Women thus have a crucial role to play and need to be especially made aware of this power and empowered to play it right. He affirmed: ‘we must stop living at the cost of our children. Instead, we must create frameworks for sustainable lifestyles – and we must act now’.

Here are 5 steps towards #greenparenting and a better future for our children:

  1. Composting, Refusing (waste prevention), Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

Consider consuming differently…

Yes, you’ve heard “reduce, reuse, recycle” it a million times. But this time we’d like to emphasise the “refuse and reduce” bit. In general, most of us are over-consuming, creating tons of waste. Consider consuming differently, buying bulk, local and seasonal, more vegetables, second hand and sustainable. Instead of opting for disposable products, turn to other alternatives, or homemade articles or use rental, second hand etc.

  • There are tons of second-hand markets in Luxembourg and lots more on Facebook.
  • Zero-waste consumption is now made easier by Ouni, a packaging-free, organic cooperative in Luxembourg. Other online options like Zwoice is also sprouting up.
  • Consider how you give gifts to loved ones. How about shifting from giving things to giving experiences or your time?
  • Consider eating less meat and if you do choosing sustainable options.

2. Vote for political players that prioritise the environment

Simple..

3. Learn more about climate change and support local action

Greta Tunberg has created a movement like no other. Children world-wide are standing up. Support this movement. Show your children you care and that they can too can make a difference. Children (before conditioned otherwise) naturally respect nature.

Visit Youth for Climate Luxembourg.

Visit the Transition Network Luxembourg, a non-profit organisation that provides an experimental space for thinking, researching, disseminating and practising post-carbon lifestyles and regenerative culture.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. In 2019, Luxembourg already over-shooted ecological resources on Feb 16th…

Learn more about climate change and solutions here:

4. Vote with your funds – say no to players still investing in fossil fuels

Believe it or not, one would have imagined that all banks and other big players are supporting renewable energy all the way. Well it turns out, many are still investing in what’s killing our planet. So ask your bank where they stand. The collective voice of consumers are the strongest…

  • Here’s a cool ecological search engine powered by green energy and using profits to plant trees: www.ecosia.org
  • Do yourself (and the earth) a favour and check in with other services you regularly use (e.g. amazon, itunes, facebook, spotify etc) to see if they have made/have plans to make the energy shift away from dirty sources of energy like coal towards renewable sources.
  • Ask your energy provider if you can opt for renewable energy sources.
  • Next time you buy a car, why not opt for an electrical one (whilst ensuring you will recharge it with renewable sources of course). In fact, use your car less and opt for the growing network of public transport, cycling or walking. Your kids will love it too…

5. Speak up where you can

You’d be surprised how shifting to more conscious ways in your community is possible if someone starts planting little seeds (no pun intended)…

Where can you speak up so habits start shifting? At your little one’s school/creche? Sharing your enthusiasm with your friends on how your family managed to shift consumption behaviors etc (ensure at all times not to judge others, not yet understanding the urgency of the matter. That’ll just scare them off 😉

Thank you for just thinking of this, much love to you! Together, you would be surprised at what we can do!

Read more about Luxmama’s #greenparenting awareness pillar.


More about the Author

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Mother of two, holistic maternity coach/educator, Marise Hyman provides worldwide coaching, healing and education in preparing for an empowered conception, pregnancy, birth, life and parenthood journey. She is an IMPI Maternity Coach/Educator, IMPI Holistic Pregnancy & Child Sleep Practitioner, Happiest Baby on the Block Educator, “Becoming Us” Facilitator, Dancing for Birth™ Instructor, Birth Advocate, Holistic Childbirth Educator, Reiki Practitioner, Head-trash Clearance + Fearless Birthing Professional and “Birth into Being” Facilitator (level 1-3).

She is also the founder of the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep asbl, a non-profit organisation raising awareness for green, natural & holistic parenting alternatives, birth rights and perinatal mental health by offering a variety of social and educational events in Luxembourg.

My story of hope… to conceive

My story of hope that make dreams come true.

My name is Virginie Vast – my story which I will share with you today is a story of hope for all women going through fertility issues.  I have myself been through 6 years of infertility treatment to finally have the joy to hold my little girl in my arms. Having openly talked about my story at work after the birth of my daughter, I realised how many women were going through the same journey… in silence. This is probably the worst thing we do to ourselves as women, to carry on in silence, feeling ashamed, not asking for help… and I am hoping through sharing my story and offering my support will make women fertility journey a little easier to cope with.

So here is my story…

As a child, I grew up in a very loving family, my mum was my dad’ first love, they got married in their 20’s and right away became parents. Few years later, three girls came to complete our family and my mum made the choice to dedicate her life to us. My parents were so strong together, at team no matter what the circumstances of life were. I grew up with this very idyllic family picture… you fall in love, you marry the love of your life, you have children and you live happily ever after.

6 years ago, it felt like destiny repeating; I saw him, his name is Laurens. At first sight, I knew he was the one and he will be the father of my children. One year later we said ‘yes’ to each other in this most beautiful wedding day, so excited to make our dream of having our own family come true…but then the story didn’t go on like in my childhood dreams as we faced fertility issues. 

Nothing prepared us, as a couple, to this infertility journey and the thought that our dream of being parents might never be.  We realised we were not alone on that journey as infertility is becoming an increasingly common issue. Did you know that 1 of 6 couples are facing fertility issues and to date, more than 8 million babies were born from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) since the world’s first in 1978.

We stood up strong as a team, more determined and positive than ever to make it happen, however the journey undeniably put relationships into pressure. Our couple life became a calendar of medical events, punctuated by periods of wait, hope and deep grief. And as infertility hits you hard as a couple, it either makes you stronger together or it pulls you apart – in our case, it made us stronger than ever, even if the outcome of that journey was to turn towards adoption.  

Every day I woke up with the same thought ‘Will I be a mum one day? Will our dream ever come true?’, and carried on in silence. People would keep asking us ‘Don’t you want to have children?’, if only they knew and after 6 years of restlessly trying to be parents, we came out of excuses to be able to answer. The norm is to get married and to have children. People have expectations and we did not want to let them down. 

Every day was a challenge – torn between growing my career, fighting to become a mum, dealing with deep grief of battles lost on the way and at the same time, protecting my couple and myself. To plan my days, I had to take into consideration so many variables, depending on workload, priority changes, last minute travel required and the planning of all medical appointments. Both of us having demanding jobs, some IVF cycles were real puzzle of logistical tricks to make it happen while at the same time ensuring we perform at work and we remain happy as a couple. Hope gave us the strength to carry on.

In life, I am a very passionate person; I love to drive initiatives that can make a difference. I have the chance to have new challenges at work that really excited me, and this passion and excitement without any doubt kept me going. I put a smile on my face, I put all my energy in what I love doing as I did not want people to find out or worse to feel sorry. One day, one of my colleague asked me ‘Don’t you want to start a family, you are now married and you would be a fantastic mother?’, this sentence was too much to handle to remain silent so I told her my story, the same story I am telling you today. I felt so relief and touched how understanding and supportive she was. 

If I was not so worried about what people would think and the impact it may have on my career, I would have actually talked about it openly much earlier to create awareness on fertility issues, on what it takes and on ways to get the support and space to persevere. I would have advised younger women at work not to wait to start a family over their career, I would have shared my experience to support those turning towards adoption.  

After 6 years of battle against infertility, my story is one of hope. The journey might be long, frustrating and painful but my message to all of women is to not give up, to be strong, to seek for help and to try over and over again because it is worth it… today, my dream of having a family with the man I love became reality and I am the luckiest mum of a little girl Chloe, she is 14 months today. 

Good luck everyone and please feel free to reach out to me. As women, we are here to support for each other. 

Virginie Vast 

About the author

Virginie Vast is a citizen of the world, she studied in the USA and Sweden, worked across 7 countries in Germany, France, Spain… to end up 10 years ago in beautiful Luxembourg – the place she calls home. This is where she met and married the love of her life, Laurens and after many years of trying to be parents, they are now a family with little Chloe who just turned 1 year. Virginie comes from Normandy in France, and she is a senior business executive in Supply Chain at Vodafone.

Virginie is passionate in life and loves to do things that make a difference to the world. Last year, she has created and is now heading the Vodafone Foundation in Luxembourg where she has the ambition to change the life of 5,000 people per year in the Grand Duche. She focuses on inclusion on disfavored communities, STEM education for girls and integration of disable people through sport…  a partnership with Ministry of Education, Script and the sponsorship from Princess Tessy De Nassau.

To help women going through the same challenges of infertility, she has created a support group in her workplace where she offers her support and advice to other women on the same journey or about to embark on it..share experience or simply offer a shoulder to lie on in tough times. The group now counts 7 women, they are no alone anymore and can hold on each other to go through this journey. She is also an active member on Luxmama.

Wrap your baby! About baby carrying

As a mother, you will carry your baby around nine months in your belly. After the birth, you might feel an emptiness, like something is missing. The belly is still there, kind of. But the baby is in your arms now. You might feel the need to have a smoother transition than that. It is normal! You wonder how. There comes the wrap or carrier!

And believe me, your baby needs this transition too. Did you hear about the benefits that carried babies experience? And you as parents too? It stimulates the cognitive development, promotes sleep, ensures proper development of joints, muscles and especially the tiny hips, facilitates digestion and it is perfect for premature babies! It is proven, that they gain weight faster when carried.

Baby carrying contributes the parent-child bond – even if the beginning was hard for both (difficult birth, post partum depression – there are many reasons and often things which don’t work out as we wished them to, but nothing is lost).

It reinforces the sense of parental competence and self-confidence.
How to carry your baby? Avoid neck, back or shoulder pain with an adapted wrap or carrier, get this freedom of movement and make a choice for your economics and our ecology. Baby carrying is definitely saving you money and it is better for the environment.
I became a baby carrying consultant because it’s my passion and a lifestyle. Before the birth of our daughter, I was convinced about the benefits of carrying. 
I always adored the images of men and women in warmer countries, wearing their little ones in beautiful wraps in a way that seems so obvious and easy. I wanted to do the same. But I didn’t see many people carrying their babies here.
I bought a wrap. 
I watched videos and tutorials.
I read and watched again. 
I watched them slower.
I was motivated…and ended up lost with my super long elastic wrap.
I didn’t give up with my wrap and found out that you can do this even professionally.
Why not, with the equipment that I got in the meantime, I could have opened even my own shop, I told myself.
I knew directly: this is the thing to do! I want to become somebody that helps parents through and out of this labyrinth. This is a call!

Our daughter participates from the beginning in all daily life activities as she is carried a lot. And we ARE active. She sees everything and everyone and she is seen. And she is such an easy and happy baby.

When I meet somebody in the street, she can make eye contact. If she wants. If she has enough of the world out there, she turns her head against me and sleeps or rests. Strangers often want to touch our babies, do you agree with me? And us, the parents, we hate it – you agree on that one too? Not so simple in a wrap. You protect your tiny treasure so much easier. Now baby is not so accessible to dirty outside fingers. The place in front of our hearts is a safe haven.

When I carry my daughter, I take a break from this daily madness. How long will she want to be carried? Thanks to good quality material and wrapping techniques, it is not a problem to wear up to 20kg. Carrying is not just for babies, it is for toddlers too.
No, my back doesn’t hurt. Yes, don’t worry, she can breathe in there. And no, the position is not unhealthy – it is the contrary in fact.

I wish we learned to trust ourselves again and listen to our intuition. I am here to help you with this too, not just how to put your baby in and then out and where to adjust the node. 
We need to become the competent parents, which our children need, especially nowadays. 

About me

I am Honorata, 31 years old. I live in France at the Luxembourgish border with my family. I am passionate about baby wearing and obtained my certificate via “Die Trageschule ®” in Germany“. During my free time I enjoy horse riding and long walks. I offer individual and group workshops around baby carrying in the whole area. It is also possible to rent baby carriers that I have in my assortment or to try them out during group walks that I organise regularly.
www.mieux-porter.com

Mothering the mother, or the job of a Postpartum Doula


History of birth & postpartum

Mary Cassatt, Maternite 1890

Historically birth & postpartum were home-based. Up until the 19th century women gave birth in their home with the help of an elder experienced woman from there village at first and a midwife in more recent years.

The strenuous nature of birth along with the fact that breastfeeding was the only way to keep a baby alive mandated the great care new mothers received from the people close to them and from their village. Most people used to live in small communities and after birth the mother was supposed to stay in bed and learn to breastfeed her baby. The older women were there with valuable guidance and advice and the community was there to provide food and help with older kids and housework.

The modern era

Medical advances combined with the urbanization of societies meant that Postpartum care declined greatly in quality in the 20th century! Now we know that mum is safe, there are doctors that take care of her for 3 days at the hospital, midwives that teach her the basics and then off she goes…alone to the house with no one to help!

And then we are sad about low-breastfeeding rates and high rates of Postpartum depression in most developed countries! What we need to understand is that this should not surprise us. Breastfeeding is a learned skill and requires a lot of support from other women that have the knowledge to share in order to be successful! Dana Rafael, US Anthropologist and Breastfeeding advocate that studied birth & postpartum of around 200 traditional societies, said that:

breastfeeding was a physiological process that needed to have something in place in the culture or else the lactation function would not work. Breastfeeding needs support”

Also, birth and breastfeeding are energy draining activities and the new mother needs nutritious meals and help with all the tasks she previously undertook with ease. And foremost she needs psychological support, confirmation that she is doing ok, that things are going to get better, that she is a good mum! A new mum needs to be mothered also and in modern societies we have forgotten that…

In Luxembourg a recent survey conducted by Happy New Mama  showed that 65% say they were not prepared for life after birth & especially for the postpartum period, although 74% amongst them had received a Prenatal education course. When asked to describe this period the majority (66%) is on the negative side, with 27% responding “Very Hard” or “Not Good” and another 39% said “Average” which is amazing if we think that this is the period were we finally meet the person that was growing inside us for 9 months! When it comes to negative feelings, “Tired”, “Exhausted” and “Overwhelmed” were naturally on top but some other not so obvious were highlighted. 1/3 of respondents reported feeling “Isolated” or “Lonely” and 27% “Scared”. Finally, around 25% felt “Depressed” and experienced the “Baby Blues” with 11% reporting  “Postpartum Anxiety” and 6% “Postpartum Depression”. The majority of the population that took part on the survey relied on help from their partners mainly, 46% had an independent midwife visiting and 40% had one of their parents helping.
However, these numbers are only an indication) as Luxembourg does not publish data on Postpartum Mental Health!

Factors associated with a negative experience seem to be C-sections, especially emergency ones. And consequences involved lower rates of long -term breastfeeding (39% breastfed their baby over 6 months vs 80% for women with a ‘very good’ postpartum period).

Moving finally on what would help during that period, top answer were more sleep, a warm cooked meal or help with housework but “company, someone to talk to” was also chosen by 42%, which is in line with the loneliness of that period!

In Luxembourg the state provides some visits after birth from an independent midwife (sage-femme liberale). They visit at home, check baby’s weight, check the breastfeeding and if there are any medical or other issues with the new mom (e.g. excess bleeding, any infection, pain etc) and this is a valuable service for new mums. They visit in the first 15-21 days postpartum and reimbursed by CNS. However, the visit lasts 45 min and often there are not enough midwives in Luxembourg to cover the demand. Many midwives also offer other services in private and are an invaluable resource.

For sure the postpartum experience of women giving birth in Luxembourg is a topic that needs to be explored further and official authorities should start paying more attention to it as this period affects women’s well-being and is probably the most fragile period of their lives, mentally and physically.

Role of doulas

This is the point where, in many modern societies, a Postpartum Professional (or Doula) comes. The role of a postpartum doula is NON-medical and it’s focus is Mothering the mother, it is to give space to the new mum to recover from birth and to get to know her new baby. They offer practical help and emotional support to the new mum until she is confident and strong enough to take care of her new family. A Postpartum Doula will prepare nutritious meals, will give a massage to increase oxytocin, will take care of older kids, support and encourage mums with breastfeeding and give them time to have a nice bath or show some exercises to help recover from birth. But most of all she will be there to listen! Listen to her birth story, her worries and anxieties of being a new mama and to celebrate the most intense transition they will go through, the transition to Motherhood.   A postpartum doula is the village we have lost!

Because postpartum care should be given again the position and value it once had and because..

It is not enough to keep new mamas alive, we need new mamas to thrive!

More about the contributor

Christina Anyfanti is a Certified Postpartum Professional & part of the Newborn Mothers Collective as well as a Birthlight™ Motherhood & Baby Yoga Teacher.

She also has a Diploma in Counseling Psychology among others. happynewmama.lu