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April 14, 2020
The postpartum time can be overwhelming, even in the best of circumstances. However, there are many wonderful resources available to help you recover and thrive after giving birth. Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those resources are still available, just in a different form. Here’s a guide to adapting your postpartum support to the current restrictions and what to expect.
Many lactation consultants have been offering telehealth services for years, with much success. Depending on the issue, options may include video conferencing, phone calls, or text messaging. Some moms even prefer a virtual approach to in-person, with benefits like convenience and cost. While challenges do exist, including weighted feedings and oral and manual exams, virtual lactation support is a great and well-established option. In addition to virtual consults with lactation consultants, there are virtual breastfeeding classes and support groups as well.
Like virtual lactation consulting, virtual mental health, also referred to as telemental health, has been gaining momentum for a number of years. Many therapists already offer counseling via video, phone, or text and many have specific telemental health training. It’s been studied extensively and shown to be unquestionably effective. There are similar benefits to other telehealth services, like cost and convenience, and very few downsides.
Virtual pelvic floor physical therapy is a little less common than lactation consulting and telemental health services. This is especially true for pelvic floor PT, which typically has a lot of hands-on work in addition to exercises to do at home. However, limited studies are promising and many patients report effectiveness and satisfaction with telehealth pelvic floor PT. “While the manual, hands-on aspect of physical therapy is not available, “ explains Carolyn Yates, PT, DPT, “most of your rehabilitation relies on what you do outside of the physical therapist’s office.”
A weak pelvic floor can cause painful sex, leaking, and prolapse. Learn how to strengthen and rehab your pelvic floor with a postpartum pelvic floor rehabilitation program.
Postpartum doulas offer such a range of support, that both you and your postpartum doula may need to be flexible and find creative ways to shift this support to virtual. Some of the practical support like laundry, dishes, and other housework will be difficult to replace under stay-at-home orders. Meal preparation might still be an option, though, if your doula is willing to cook at home and deliver.
One of the most important ways that postpartum doulas help families adjust is through emotional support. You may be able to access this support virtually, as some postpartum doulas are offering virtual sessions for emotional support. If yours doesn’t, you may be able to find similar support from virtual mom groups.
You may be thinking that postpartum massage is impossible to do virtually. And you’re mostly right. However, some massage therapists, like Faith Davis of Mountain Mama Massage have wisely shifted to teaching self-massage, partner massage, and stretching. While not exactly the same, it’s much better than nothing.
Luckily fitness has had a lot of success shifting to virtual classes over the years. There are many prenatal and postpartum fitness apps and web programs available. And even some in-person studios, like MaMa Love are offering yoga and fitness classes online.
Many mom groups have gone virtual. Check with your local hospital or birth center to find a support group near you. Some have a mental health focus, some have a breastfeeding focus, and some are just general peer support. No matter what you’re looking for, you can find one that works for you.
Disaster Distress Helpline
Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
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Call 800-273-8255 or Chat with Lifeline
Text TALK to 741741
Hilty DM, Ferrer DC, Parish MB, Johnston B, Callahan EJ, Yellowlees PM. The effectiveness of telemental health: a 2013 review. Telemed J E Health. 2013;19(6):444–454. doi:10.1089/tmj.2013.0075. Accessed on April 13, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662387/
Telerehabilitation for Treating Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: A Case Series of 3 Patients’ Experiences [J Women’s Health Phys Ther. 2019;43(1):44–50.] Accessed on April 13, 2020 from https://journals.lww.com/jwhpt/Abstract/2019/01000/Telerehabilitation_for_Treating_Pelvic_Floor.7.aspx
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