Ideas on Safe Motherhood

#two in a series on “Safe Motherhood Week”.
smw-cover from survey

Logo from the “safe motherhood week” and cover photo from a survey on health for mothers in 7 European countries

 

The assignment I got was to contribute to this EU campaign on this important task by Irish writer and editor Danielle Barron. The campaign runs every first week of October to create awareness for healthy pregnancies and safe motherhood.

Some collected experience through my profession as a health visitor

I would like to focus on preventing loneliness and postpartum depression.


In Denmark Health Visitors organized from the municipality visit families with newborn babies and follow-up on both mothers’ and babies’ well-being the first years of their lives. We are educated as nurses and take another education on health and children’s development before we can use the “Health Visitor” title. See more here a postcard from Denmark

The last years of my job we became more aware of finding mothers suffering from Post Partum Depression. When the baby was eight weeks old we let the mother take a test to find those who maybe had this tendency. It was not difficult to talk about the test early in the visits to prepare both parents of this. About one in ten mothers get this depression in some form.

I would offer much more visits than we normally give just to check up on the mother. Sometimes that would be enough to help her. Mothers with grave and persisting anxiety would need more professional help and I would refer her to her medical doctor.

I would involve her husband to be more engaged in the child’s emotional development and help the family to ask for practical assistance from their family or friends.

Fathers can also get this postpartum depression. The symptoms vary from the women’s.

I wrote about it a post in Danish. It can be google translated should anybody be interested.

When asked about what is a good parent both claim:

To be a good parent is to meet the needs of the child and to be attentive to them

While getting treatment for the postpartum depression it is important to get help to attachment to the baby. Otherwise, both parts will suffer the rest of their lives.

Here my interview with a young woman whose mother suffered from this condition.


 

In Denmark, we have many months of maternity leave and fathers have some weeks too and the parents can share a certain amount of weeks too if they wish. It’s very privileged and good for most parents. For some, it can be a time of loneliness.

Taken from the post “A Postcard  from Denmark”:

Most are allowed to stop working four weeks before the birth and many can stop eight weeks before. It depends on the agreement at that workplace. The leave is paid.

After the birth, the mother has 14 weeks of leave and the father has two weeks in the same period. After the 14 weeks, they have 32 weeks where they can choose who is going to have the leave the father or the mother. You get paid, but the tariff is different from a workplace to workplace. 

From the late 1980’s I engaged in helping mothers to enter into so-called “Mothers’ Groups”. We as Health Visitors would gather those who had new-born babies at a certain month and at a certain district and introduce them to each other mostly in their homes.

Some became friends for many years and their children have grown up together. It’s a lovely and easy task when the families are similar in social status but can be difficult when they are too different.

The groups are also popular today and the Health Visitors are still present at the first meeting. But ever so often mothers find each other via Facebook and meet for socialising whereas professional groups are formed more to teach on how to treat and understand babies and to prevent them being handled too hard.

One of my first "mothers' groups"

From one of my first “mothers’ groups”  Copenhagen 1990

Mothers don’t have the energy to visit someone with lots of problems or someone who is living in a dirty and untidy home and maybe the parents were smoking indoors. The other mothers don’t want to mention anything about it so they just come once and the group dissolves. I found it very difficult when these situations popped up as I heard about the problems from both sides.

Often we had special groups or therapy to families with social problems. In that way, we just offered something else than the normal “Mothers’ Groups”. These groups were not always totally optional for the invited families to attend to.


Yesterday I had the big joy of meeting one of “my mothers” at a Half Marathon race. We had both finished and suddenly we saw each other. She said :

You were my Health Visitor! I remember your smile and your voice!

I remembered her too and her prematurely born twins, what months and year they were born. In the fall of 1999, I had at least five premature babies and a group was made. The mothers stuck together and I met with them as often as I could and during the time. I made video films of the babies for them to have later.


In a few days, my own story on this subject will appear in the WordPress reader.

24 Comments »

  1. The NHS Trust I used to work for had a specialist inpatient service for mothers with postpartum depression, which allowed them to keep their babies with them while they were treated. I did a lot of work supporting this service, which had a national reputation for providing something which seems so obvious, but which few provided. We had a couple of family rooms too, for dads and young siblings. Maternity leave here is quite good but not paternity – seeing these families bonding and working through their problems together always made me feel that there was something missing from the way this country treats new parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to belong to a mother’s group and found it quite helpful in those early years. We also babysat each other’s children using a points system so that we could all get a night out.

    Like

  3. After a crippling post-partum depression with my second daughter I decided to train as an ante-natal teacher with The National Childbirth Trust in the UK. I taught for several years including the pregnancies and births of my two subsequent daughters (I have four of them). I was fortunate in the area of Britain I lived in – the midwifery support and the Health Visitor support was superb and indeed it was my Health Visitor who helped me most during the break-down of my marriage and the exodus of my husband before I knew I was carrying my fourth daughter. She was absolutely invaluable, a life-line at a very confusing and dark time in my life which could have impacted terribly on my young family. I credit her with saving us, actually. In terms of depression, I think it is very important to stress the difference between post-partum depression and pueperal psychosis. I had the former and interestingly my baby was ALL I wanted. I had no trouble bonding with her at all. If I could have gone and lived in a bubble with her and shut out the world I would have been happy (I thought) … the one that suffered was my elder daughter and it was my Health Visitor who recognised that and took steps to make sure I had excellent care in helping me to rebond with her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad to get your input here. You are right that these two conditions are different. I was never diagnosed so I will never know what it really was with me. I might have to write a new post to recall things better to understand it better. Have you a post about what you went through?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “You were my Health Visitor! I remember your smile and your voice!” That’s awesome Maria! What an encouragement. Very informative post. I love learning about Denmark from you!

    Like

  5. I know that your wonderfully loving focus has been on healthy moms and infants, Maria, but I want to make sure that you, especially, caught this item on my Mental Health Awareness Calendar this month: October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

    They are hoping that everyone around the world will join in on the 15th to light a candle at 7pm (in their own timezones) and keep it burning for an hour — so that there will be a continuous wave of healing light over the entire world for the entire day in support of those who will forever grieve losing their precious infant.

    Their website, if anyone is interested is www-october15th-com (replace the dashes with periods and add the usual “http colon //” upfront – no spaces, of course).
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 1 person

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