More Research on Postnatal Care, Please

If you know me, you know I’m a fan of research & evidence-based policies. Postpartum care is one of those topics, oh gods so much I’m just now realizing.

Photo by Jordan Whitt. In public domain from Unsplash.

Photo by Jordan Whitt. In public domain from Unsplash.

As covered in-depth in this Vox article, American women suffer disproportionately from utterly preventable postnatal ailments, such as infections and pelvic pain:

About half of women who give birth are still in pain weeks later. More than 40 percent of women who delivered vaginally reported perineal pain, and nearly 60 percent who had C-sections experienced incision pain within two months of childbirth, according to a 2013 survey of 2,400 women […C]hildbirth can cause more serious complications including hemorrhage, infection, incontinence, symphysis pubis dysfunction (pelvic girdle pain, which can be debilitating) and pelvic organ prolapse (when weak muscles allow organs to fall into the vagina).

I’ve already written about the depressingly high maternal mortality rates in the U.S. (especially Texas), which accompany lack of access to health care services. But here, we’re seeing a correlation between lack of education and negative health outcomes: a lot of women don’t know which questions to ask, and their doctors aren’t offering much guidance.

So in addition to providing access to more health services for women before and during pregnancy, we need to consider the aftermath of pregnancy, and we need to be thinking in terms of education as well as resources. I hope to see more research on this topic, because it’s terrifying to realize just how tenuous many women’s health and quality of life experiences are in the U.S.

About Jeana Jorgensen

Jeana Jorgensen studied folklore at Berkeley under Alan Dundes, going on to complete her MA and PhD in folklore at Indiana University. She specializes in narrative folklore (particularly fairy tales), dance, body art, feminism and queer theory, and folklore in literature. She splits her time between teaching college courses in anthropology, folklore, and gender studies, and working in the field of adult sex education as a scholar, teacher, and writer.