Pregnancy and childbirth are, of course, quite extraordinary events. But however much preparation you do beforehand, those first few months are likely to be packed with surprises.
There’s a lot you can do to support yourself and the new member of your family. Perhaps you feel there isn’t time to take care of yourself with all the other priorities. Your health, energy and getting enough sleep is vital.
Vitamins such as Pregnacare Breast-feeding and Pregnacare New Mum from Vitabiotics, the UK’s No1 vitamin company*, can help safeguard your diet, support your health and give you the confidence that you’re ticking the right nutritional boxes.
And don’t forget that friends and family can be great for support when it comes to navigating this helter skelter!
Here, we speak to new mothers about what really matters in those first few months, and the one thing they wish they had known.
Vitabiotics, the UK’s No1 vitamin company*, is here to support you with Pregnacare and Wellbaby supplements (Pictured: Sophie with two-year-old Luca)
A healthy diet is important, but everyone can have the odd lapse!
Of course you want to eat a healthy diet for yourself and your baby, but if you’re sleep-deprived and rushing around, it’s just not always possible, despite your very best intentions.
‘Everything about a newborn was a surprise!’ says Charley Trotter, 28, who lives in Southampton with her husband and eight-month-old son Reuben: ‘I didn’t realise how hard it would be to eat nutritious meals the whole time’.
While Charley believes the most important thing is not to put pressure on yourself, she did her best to eat healthy balanced meals whenever she could and took multivitamins to help support her.
To provide extra reassurance and safeguard your nutritional intake, Pregnacare is the UK’s No1 pregnancy supplement brand* and has been supporting healthy pregnancies for over 30 years. Save 20% on Pregnacare and Wellbaby supplements†!
To help new mothers get expert nutritional care this week, Vitabiotics are offering a 20% discount for any purchases of Pregnacare or Wellbaby.
Take advantage of the offer by entering code ‘PRGWBY20’ during check out before midnight on Monday, September 18.
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†Offer ends 18th September 2023 23:59. T&Cs apply, visit vitabiotics.com/pages/terms for more info.
Vitabiotics Pregnacare Breast-feeding and Pregnacare New Mum can provide expert nutritional support, bringing together the key nutrients needed for this period including vitamin D which is recommended by the UK Department of Health during breast-feeding, plus iron which contributes to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.
Accept the rollercoaster
The idea and the reality of having a newborn are two quite different images! ‘I felt as though I was on a roller coaster,’ says Ayesha Faulkner, who has 18-month-old Adaline.
‘Babies don’t follow books – as I discovered almost immediately, and I don’t think they can describe quite how physically and mentally tiring it can be on occasion.’
It is important, she says, to remember that it gets easier with newborns being the hardest to care for but, ‘now it’s far easier, and I get enough sleep!’
Give yourself time to recover
Look after yourself and don’t feel that you have to leap out of bed and get back to it. ‘You spend so much time obsessing over the birth but don’t think about recovery’ says Annabelle Devitt, 35, who has a four-year-old and a one-year-old.
‘I wish I’d arranged for more help, planned more time to rest and not tried to overdo it. The old saying is ‘a week in bed and a week on the sofa’ and I think that’s so true, yet none of us stick to it. I assumed once labour was over, that would be it!’
‘I wish I’d arranged for more help’: Annabelle Devitt (pictured), 35, reflect on her first months as a new mum
The post natal and breast-feeding period puts big demands on your body. Pregnacare Breast-feeding is an expert supplement formula that brings together the key nutrients needed specifically for this time, helping to safeguard your diet when it matters most.
The advanced formula includes Omega-3 DHA capsules. Maternal intake of DHA contributes to the normal brain and eye development of breast-fed infants, as well as calcium, vitamin K and D that contributes to the maintenance of normal bones.
Find your ‘village’
Being a new mum can sometimes feel a bit solitary, and it’s a time when friends, partners and family come into their own, especially during those first few months, when exhaustion might make small tasks and socialising feel a little overwhelming. Know that you are not alone, and find your tribe.
‘I wish I’d known that being a new parent without a village is tough,’ says 35 year old hypnobirthing teacher Jessica Ord, mum to Monty, five, and Primrose, who is just two.
‘With Monty, we had just moved to Northumberland. I tried to get out into the world and bounce back to normal with a face full of make-up and a nice pram. But I found it a lonely time.’
Being a new parent without a village is tough, says mum-of-two teacher Jessica Ord (pictured)
Supplements like Pregnacare Breast-feeding cater specifically to your needs as a new mother
She says that it was far easier with Primrose. ‘This time, I had friends from my aqua natal and antenatal classes, and they came around, entertained my oldest, made me lunch and then gave me space. It was very precious, and very appreciated.’
To support you postnatally, after the breastfeeding stage, Pregnacare New Mum is carefully formulated to help keep you at your best, with nutrients including vitamin B12 and iron to help reduce tiredness and fatigue, and biotin and zinc to support normal hair and skin, which can go through changes after the baby is born.
Wanting to feel a bit like your former self is entirely normal after having a baby. ‘All the clothing I found was either baggy and drab or floral,’ says Sophie Baldwin, 30, mother to Luca, two, and with her second due in November.
She runs The Mum Collective, a luxury loungewear company specialising in maternity and post natal clothing. ‘I felt as though I was losing my sense of self.’
‘Clearly it’s entirely personal, but it was important to me, and that’s why I launched my company. Having lovely clothes can help to restore confidence.’
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else
It’s tempting to look around and think that other mothers have got it completely under control. ‘Don’t feel pressure, and don’t listen to other people,’ says 38-year-old company owner Tina Nandha, who had her third baby, Dylan, four weeks ago, and also has an eight and a six-year-old.
Company owner Tina Nangha says ‘don’t listen to other people’ when it comes to how you look after you and your newborn
‘This time round, I have confidence in my own instincts, and I’m also trying to embrace every precious moment. With the girls as newborns I just wanted to sleep and for them to feed.’ She says that she is even enjoying the middle-of-the-night feeds. ‘It’s just me and Dylan, and priceless bonding time.’
Let friends and family cook for you
‘I’ve not had to cook since Minnie was born,’ says Gemma Mayatt, 33, whose daughter is just 18 days old. ‘Steve, my husband, has been in charge and I’ve been very lucky that my family made meals for the freezer as well.
‘I took pre-natal vitamins and I’ve been told it’s a good idea to take them to support my health [after the baby is born] and [while] breast-feeding as well.
‘I was very naive!’ says Gemma. ‘I thought I’d have all day to plan and some semblance of control over where the hours go. In fact, you blink, and suddenly it’s 3.30 pm!’Take care of your little one too!
Nutritional support for your baby: Wellbaby Multi-vitamin Drops contains iron, which supports normal immune system function, as well as essentials like vitamin A, C and D
While mum’s health is important, so too is the little one’s! Wellbaby Multi-vitamin Drops help safeguard your newborn’s vitamin and mineral intake with one balanced, gentle formula.
The multi-vitamin drops provide a nutritional safeguard during a time when babies have a high nutrient requirement in relation to body size. Supplements can help to support their rapid physical growth and development.
The UK Department of Health recommends that all children aged six months to five years should be given a supplement that contains vitamins A, C and D**.
With a formula that includes these vitamins, Wellbaby Multi-vitamin Drops are ideal for babies from 4 to 24 months and provides a safe and balanced comprehensive range of 14 nutrients.
It also includes iron, which contributes to normal cognitive development of children and vitamin D which is needed for normal growth and development of bones in children. It also contributes to their normal immune system function.
*Nielsen GB ScanTrack Total Coverage Value & Unit Retail Sales 52 w/e 15.07.23. To verify, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
**Unless they are drinking 500ml (or approx. 1 pint) of infant formula a day, as infant formula has vitamins added to it. ‘Vitamins for children’ – NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/vitamins-for-children/
How to decide your maternity cover, which are the best ones in the market?
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Maternity Deserts And Short Staffing Put American Births In Danger
There’s a two percent increase in counties that are maternity care deserts since our 2020 report. … [+] Ohio had the most women impacted by overall reductions in access to caregetty
Every day, more American women are realizing that their lives might be in danger during the birthing process. According to an August 2023 March of Dimes report, many of them live in a maternity desert – a county without a hospital or birth center offering obstetric care.
The report, entitled Where You Live Matters: Maternity Care Deserts and the Crisis of Access and Equity, lays out some of the stark realities facing women and babies in the United States. In 2020 for example, America experienced a nearly 14 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths from the previous year and a nearly 31 percent increase from 2018.
The report also points to an increasing number of maternity deserts. As of August 2023, more than 5.6 million women live in counties with no or limited access to maternity care services. In 2022, the similar March of Dimes report found 2.2 million women of childbearing age live far away from hospitals and birth centers offering obstetric care.
Dr. Elizabeth Cherot, March of Dimes’ president and chief executive officer, said she has been discouraged not only by this complex reality but stakeholders’ unwillingness to find meaningful solutions.
“There is an awareness that we still have to, unfortunately, continue to drive that moms and their babies are the center of our family, and they are not doing well in this country,” Dr. Cherot. said. “That is a first-line conversation, and then start to get into everything else.”
With March of Dimes designating an alarming 36 percent of all U.S. counties as maternity care deserts, the lack of collective local, state and national action has been telling.
As March of Dimes’ first physician leader, Dr. Elizabeth Cherot is the President and Chief Executive … [+] Officer responsible for the development and implementation of a strategic vision to address the country’s maternal and infant health crisis, while increasing awareness and engagement in its work among key stakeholders.March of Dimes
Following the Dobbs decision, debate surrounding reproductive healthcare access has become heated. The collective unwillingness to address American birthing problems has been just as questionable and troubling. And, as hospitals continue to close since COVID-19, the situation has worsened for families.
In Wyoming, the Biglefthand family lives nearly two hours away from the closest birthing hospital. For Vania and Ray Biglefthand, long treks for doctor and prenatal visits have become part of an out-of-the-ordinary pregnancy.
Things became more stressful for Vania’s third pregnancy when a 29-week complication landed her on complete best rest for a little more than a month.
In the opening note of the March of Dimes’ 2022 report, Vania urges other families living in the maternity desert to keep fighting for their health and that of their babies.
“As a mom, being pregnant, you know your body, you know something is wrong. Speak up, no matter what. Speak up for yourself and your baby,” Vania said.
The Biglefthands’ story is one that Dr. Cherot has heard far too many times. She connected that to the financial cost of birthing in America.
“Many hospitals throughout this country are struggling with low birth volumes and staff recruitment and retention issues,” Cherot said. “All of this leads to a financial demonstration that says we aren’t going to value our moms.”
March of Dimes has laid out national, state and local-level solutions to alleviate American families’ birthing struggles, including expanding Medicaid for individuals who fall at or below the Federal Poverty level and expanding the Medicaid postpartum coverage period to 12 months. At the federal level, it’s currently 60 days after pregnancy.
The report also urges expanding maternity care telehealth services and enhancing perinatal regionalization to improve maternal and neonatal outcomes. Tannaz Rasouli, senior director of public policy at the Association of American Medical Colleges, cosigned this move.
“Maternity care deserts pose serious risks to pregnant people and, for their children, begin a cycle of unacceptable health disparities,” said Rasouli. “One key issue contributing to these deserts is health workforce shortages, which limit patients’ access to essential preventive, prenatal, and postpartum care.”
With non-Hispanic Black women dying at a three-times the rate of their non-Hispanic white counterparts, March of Dimes has been laser-forced on addressing the social determinants of health to reduce disparities.
Tonya Lewis Lee, a film director and producer, author and advocate for women and infant health, said this inequity exists for Black women inside and outside maternity deserts because of unconscious bias and long-lasting inequities in America’s healthcare system.
“It’s not necessarily the access to care; it’s the access to the type of care one is getting,” said Lewis Lee, producer of “Aftershock.”
Lewis Lee points out that either birthing people are getting too much care too soon due to the fear of bad outcomes, causing more Black and Brown mothers to be pushed into having C-sections too quickly, or families of color are not getting enough care early enough, and physicians dismiss their pain and concerns.
That’s why Dr. Cherot has championed the expansion of midwifery. As an organization, March of Dimes believes the presence of a midwife during the prenatal, birthing and postpartum period will increase positive patient outcomes and mortality.
Aftershock — Following the deaths of two young women due to childbirth complications, two bereaved … [+] families galvanize activists, birth-workers and physicians to reckon with one of the most pressing American crisis today: the US maternal health crisis. Executive Producer Tonya Lewis Lee, shown. (Photo by: Matt Sayles/Hulu)HULU
Lewis Lee, a March of Dimes trustee board member, echoed similar sentiments.
“The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have midwifery care integrated into women’s health care, and we have the worst outcomes,” Lewis Lee said. “We’re asking doctors to do a job that they’re not trained to do.”
Regrettably, midwives’ utilization in the hospital and birth setting has fallen tremendously since the mid-20th century due to obstetric professionalization and the push for more hospital births,
“Physicians wanted those women in the hospital to give birth, and they successfully pulled people into the hospital,” said Karen Jefferson, a certified midwife and director of Practice and education at the American College of Nurse-Midwives. “And they decimated the vibrant culture of midwifery we had here that was primarily practiced by indigenous, immigrant, and black midwives.”
In the United States, certified nurse midwives (CNM), or registered nurses who undergo midwifery training and certification, are licensed to practice in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The other category is certified midwives (CN), or individuals who are not RNs but are trained in midwifery. They are licensed to practice in 10 states and the District. Both can provide primary care for women, including well-women exams, health education, disease prevention, family planning and common gynecological-associated health issues.
When allowed to practice at the top of the licensure, CNM and CN practitioners can provide independent physical and emotional support during birthing and reduce the rate of complications and surgical intervention.
Jefferson said healthcare professionals can also prescribe some medication and referrals to physicians and other providers.
“Midwives and physicians have complementary skills,” Jefferson said. “Physicians are superb at dealing with surgery and medical complications, medically complicated people, and midwives are specialists in physiologic birth and relationship-based care.”
Dr. Cherot agreed.
“Let’s be direct about it: we must diversify our workforce. And that means letting them [midwives] work at the top of their license,” Cherot said. “It is well documented that we won’t have enough OB/GYNs in this country, so we must expand our birthing workforces to more midwives and nurse practitioners and place them in the advanced practitioner bucket.”
Fountain Valley, CA – June 29:Midwife Angie Miller listens to the heart beat of MyLin Stokes … [+] Kennedys baby with her wife Lindsay and their child Lennox, 21 months, at their Fountain Valley home. Black women are turning to midwives to avoid racism, mortality rates and unnecessary C-sections in the hospitals. In Los Angeles County, mortality rates among Black mothers from perinatal complications are four times higher compared to White women. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)MediaNews Group via Getty Images
A recent Commonwealth Fund report found that a fully integrated midwife workforce could provide 80 percent of essential maternal care worldwide and “avert 41 percent of maternal deaths, 39 percent of neonatal death and 26 percent of stillbirths.”
Jefferson and Lewis Lee believe that this statistic should be the starting point for an expanded conversation about maternal care in the United States.
“If you increase the utilization of midwives, primarily by increasing the number of midwives of color, the outcomes will change,” Jefferson said. “Midwives in hospitals and involved in the birthing process can lead to fewer pre-births, fewer low birth weight, birth, higher breastfeeding rates, and higher patient satisfaction.”
“Midwifery care shows better outcomes than what we’re seeing right now, given the increase in maternal deaths,” said Lewis Lee. “Now, we must put policies in place so midwives get covered by insurance companies.”
Due to the lack of equitable insurance reimbursement, midwives are paid less for identical births performed by doctors, resulting in pay inequity and an unwillingness of hospitals to hire them. They are also only sometimes granted admitted privileges due to locally specific statutory restrictions.
Beyond expanding midwifery care, the March of Dimes report also advocates strengthening network requirements for the Affordable Care Act marketplace, investing in Perinatal Quality Collaboratives (PQC) birthing infrastructure and expanding equitable access to doula services.
Completing its first round of investments in September 2022, the March of Dimes is also working to be part of the solutions in the fight to end maternity deserts and the high number of maternal deaths through the March of Dimes Innovation Fund.
“The maternal health issue in the United States that can be solved,” Lewis Lee said. . “It takes a lot of education. It takes innovation. It takes people putting women and birthing people first and allowing them to have the kind of birth they need and deserve so that it’s safe and driven by their desire.”