By Tracy G. Cassels

I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got my copy of New Mother: Using a Doula, Midwife, Postpartum Doula, Maid, Cook, or Nanny to Support Healing, Bonding and Growth.  I used a doula and midwife myself for the birth of my daughter and I am ever thankful that I did.  And I personally felt the midwife system here of home visits for 4 weeks postpartum allowed me to rest more comfortably.  But what about the rest?  My postpartum support was predominantly my husband and he was fantastic so I never felt like I missed out on much of anything so thinking of all these other people helping out kind of made my head spin at first.

The book is set in three parts, with each offering unique perspectives on how to improve the birth and postpartum experience for mothers – most notably US mothers where care in this realm is all but absent for most moms.  Interestingly, the book’s title suggests a book for new mothers, and yet I believe that it’s a book best read ahead of delivery – preferably before you’ve even chosen your caregiver for birth.  The first part, focused on birth and labour and delivery, is like a step-by-step guide on how to find a midwife and doula, including the questions you should think of asking, but probably won’t know if this is your first time looking for one.   The straightforward nature of this part (and most of the book) makes it an easy read and one that busy, hectic moms can work in.

As you move onto the later sections though, the information can be valuable, but there are moments that can make one feel slightly uncomfortable.  The language Ms. Chee uses – notably calling all those who help her “servants” – can make people feel awkward (one of many topics Ms. Chee was willing to speak about in the interview you can read following this review).  However, her comprehensive history of how women in other cultures and historically have enjoyed the postpartum period will be eye-opening for many women, and rightfully anger-inducing that the US provides a culture that is antithetical to this type of postpartum care.

Ms. Chee shares her own experiences with her postpartum doula (a train wreck) and her friend who saved the day to provide Ms. Chee with a postpartum period that she was looking for.  Her story is a reminder that many of us no longer have the family or friends to help care for us in this time; a time when women and children should be resting and recuperating and getting to know one another.  The solution presented in the book is to hire people to fill those roles – and we do this on a regular basis in our society.  Many people have cleaning ladies or nannies.  Some even have cooks.  But rarely do we think of this with respect to the postpartum period of healing (and beyond).  And this is what the book offers.

I have to admit it made me sad that we are in a society where paying for the support we need is seemingly the only option many of us have, yet I can see the truth to it.  I certainly appreciated the push to share these ideas with women – again one reason to read it pre-birth is to know how much you should be saving if you plan to go this route – but there were a couple things that I felt were glossed over or simply not covered in the book.

The first was the treatment of the father as a postpartum caregiver.  From my own experience, my partner was a massive source of support and help during this period.  I didn’t have anyone else (both of our families are far away and my mother who had planned on coming out to help had suffered a brain bleed the same weekend I was in labour, preventing her from coming out) and he was fantastic.  The book seems to dismiss men as being able to serve as this role well which I had to disagree with (and you can see Ms. Chee’s response to this in the interview).   It would have been nice to see a discussion of how fathers can serve as caregivers instead of assuming it’s impossible.

The second was the fact that there were no ideas for families who simply can’t afford these types of people to help.  Ms. Chee does mention another book she’s written at the end that offers ideas to spend more family time together, but it doesn’t seem to deal specifically with the postpartum period.  In a sense, the book is geared towards those with money.  And while the subject of the book is about this, when we’re focusing on the health and well-being of women and children during this time, I had hoped for even a few ideas for women who simply can’t afford the help that the people in these services provide (and who rightfully should be charging a good rate for when they provide specialty care to moms and babies).

When discussing more long-term help at the end of the book (part three), we return to the great to-do lists of how to find a nanny, cook, maid, etc.  The questions to ask, the conversations to have, and the signs to look for to see if it’s working or not.  Frankly, Ms. Chee should take these sections and create a mini-book for people to pick up quickly and have handy because she has clearly put in much thought into the process and has it streamlined beautifully.  There are things I never would have thought of and would probably be mighty pissed off if I had to learn through trial and error.  As such, the guides here are invaluable.  However, for people who aren’t looking to have this extra help either because they don’t want it or can’t afford it, the later sections won’t be very helpful.

Whether you choose to follow a similar path to Ms. Chee or find ways to bring people in your life into your world to help you in the postpartum period, this book will help you see the immense benefits of having that support.  This is why I believe it should be read pre-birth so that you can make all the necessary arrangements for the type of care and situation you can both afford and want after the arrival of your baby.  At the end of the day there are many ways to have an enjoyable postpartum experience, but it all requires some planning and surrounding yourself with people who love you and your family, and that’s something that all new moms need to be aware of.  One final note, Ms. Chee is clear to make it known that the use of these people to help isn’t to replace time with your child, but rather to increase it.  Her focus, from start to finish, is to help families – specifically mothers and babies – nurture and develop the strong bond that we hope all children are able to experience.  Contrary to how most people think of the use of help (to unburden themselves from the kids), she takes the opposite view of helping families bond.  And it’s a beautiful thing.

***

Interview with Author Allie Chee

EP: Thank you so much for answering some questions Allie.  I have to say I found the book incredibly thought-provoking and also very practical for women who are looking for some help, both pre- and post-birth, but who may not know how to go about doing it.  The chapters on how to find the various people and the questions to ask and where to look were easy to read and follow.  So first off thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this and to ask some questions of you personally as a follow-up!

The first part of your book on birth deals with how to find midwives and doulas, something I love because I wish more women, especially in the US, had access to these wonderful supporters of birth.  I have heard, however, from many mothers that insurance won’t cover a midwife to the same degree as a doctor, and the costs of these choices can be limiting for many families.  I’ve also heard of doctors covered by insurance who won’t allow a doula in the room.  What do you suggest these families do to try and obtain the birth that they may be seeking but can’t necessarily afford?

AC: Many insurance companies do not pay all if any of the midwife expense.  The good news is that midwives are often generous, understanding people who know that many of us don’t have $3-6,000 burning a hole in our pockets.  I know dozens of midwives and doulas and have yet to meet one who didn’t offer payment plans based on a family’s income, insurance, and abilities. They often offer reduced rates for those with the legitimate need.

Having said that, I hope we don’t underestimate the value of their work and assume they must offer discounts just because insurance doesn’t pay some or all of the expense.  An experienced, good midwife or doula is a professional and merits her income.

The case of doulas not being allowed in L&D:  Family members are allowed in the room, friends are allowed, even students and other strangers working in the hospital are allowed to walk in the room and observe the mother in labor, but a doula helping the mother is not allowed? Unacceptable.  However, since in some cases we may have to accept that situation, here’s what I would do.

  • Educate yourself on hospital protocol.  Know what procedures and drugs will be encouraged, what will be forced—and know that often the line between the two is blurred in the hospital.  Tour your hospital ahead of time and ask questions; read books and articles about natural childbirth in a hospital; watch DVDs on the subject.
  • Learn how to write an effective birth plan and discuss it with your doctor (which will give you a read on how receptive he/she will be to your desires).
  • Prepare the person who will be with you. Make sure the friend or family member who will be with you in childbirth understands everything you’ve learned about your hospital protocol, and what you’ll accept and refuse. If they have the personality to do so (not all people feel able to be firm when necessary with “authority” figures), ask them to help you defend your desires while you’re in labor.  (It’s not the time a mother wants to or should be reduced to courtroom antics to have the birth experience she desires for herself, her partner, and baby.)  It’s not always necessary, but often it is.

EP: The role of the birth doula is one which I hope more and more women become aware of and I believe your book does a great job highlighting the immense benefits of a birth doula (as well as the fabulous step-by-step on questions to ask, how to find one that fits with you, etc.).  How else do you think our society can embrace the doula more – and in turn offer coverage even for those that can’t afford it – so that more women benefit from the experience of having a doula at birth, which we know is associated with better birth outcomes?

AC: The first step is by what you, I, and likely many of your readers are doing—working to raise awareness. Awareness is followed by the desire to know more, which is then followed by action and change. If the common procedures in hospitals are covered by insurance, the slight cost of a doula can be covered, too. It’s a matter of raising enough awareness that a change will be required. The idea won’t originate with hospital or insurance committees.

The challenge here is that the doula is often seen as a “threat” or “hindrance” to the doctor’s competency and work. And there’s truth in that: it is a statement to the doctor.  When doctors are no longer able to deliver breech babies or multiples naturally, when they’re no longer able to deliver more than 50-70% of all babies without performing major surgery, when they’ve never even attended a natural childbirth (meaning intervention and drug-free)—they are under-qualified to help a woman wanting a natural childbirth.

More study brings understanding that birth is not the mechanical, frightening process wrought with danger and emergencies that is presented in TV, film and in many medical communities. With more information, people realize that using a doula and/or midwife to support in childbirth is not a trend. It’s a beautiful return to the way birth always was—with the added bonus of having skilled surgeons available in the rare case of emergencies.

EP: The second part of the book – dealing with postpartum issues – was fascinating yet it struck me that it really seemed to speak to a class of families that could afford the types of services you speak of.  Having “servants”, as you refer to them, in the form of cooks, maids, nannies, and postpartum doulas is something that seems difficult for many families.  How would you respond to the idea that the book could be seen as classist in this regard, or only relevant for those families with money? 

AC: I’m happy you asked this. When it comes to parenthood, we’re dealing with a personal, highly sensitive subject. When you add money to the discussion that further charges it.  If you then try to write with humor to make it fun to read when it would otherwise be a dry, academic work—it can be like walking through a minefield!

About the word “servant:” I’ve had a few readers express discomfort with the use of that word.  Here are my thoughts.

I worked in service industries, serving people (I think most of us are comfortable with “service” and “serving”)—as a servant (the uncomfortable word)— for years: as a house servant and then as a waitress. I honor the role, it afforded me great opportunities, and I believe the choice to work as or to hire a servant can be a great blessing for all parties.

More relevant: “doula” means servant!  If we don’t prefer the word servant, masking it by switching to the Greek isn’t a solution. “Doula” is often translated as “female slave!” Now that is uncomfortable.

I’d like to use an example to answer your question “is it classist?”

In the US we’re all free to travel, but we’re not all able to travel with the same accommodations or to the same places.  Some of us need to take a bus and some will have a chauffeur drive them to private jets—most will drive their own car or take a plane. (There are some who truly won’t even have bus fare, but that’s a subject beyond the scope of one person’s work, and is the responsibility of every individual and our society at large.)

When I spoke with my travel agent, I never felt she was being classist by offering travel services and information when there were some people who would never travel.  Nor by her offering other clients information about high airfare or luxury cruises while telling me about the “low budget” package where I could buy a “deck chair” for $25. and literally sit outside on the deck of a cruise ship overnight.  I wanted to travel, that’s what I could afford, and it didn’t mean I felt subject to “classism.” I felt no hostility or frustration toward the people using the nicer services or the people offering them. Fortunately, I can now afford more than the deck chair, but I’m not flying in private jets either. No worries, mate, it’s happy travels in any case!

I look at New Mother as an “agency” with an outline of services available for anyone who wants to “travel”—to have support during their childbirth and postpartum time.  I cover in detail the many talents various servants could offer and the price range they could charge based on which of those skills and qualifications they have.

Like with almost any service or product in the world—the range is wide ($10,000 for postpartum care with someone who had all the qualifications I discussed—which I added is rarely wanted, rarely available, and affordable for few—to someone offering a little support once a week for $50.)

But back to the example of $10,000. for the ultimate 4-6 week postpartum program. Since we’re on what’s proving to be a hot topic, let’s brace ourselves and dig right in.

Why is a family allocating a large sum of money (and even making sacrifices to do so) to the better bonding, healing and growth of their family considered outrageous, indulgent or “classist” when a family owning two relatively new cars that cost $20-75,000 each is not? Based on the real contribution to the family, I’d go for the postpartum care and keep my highly dependable, 11-year old car that cost $10K. Why is it outrageous when people spend $10K, $25K, $100K or more on their weddings? $500-$1,000 for a cake? I have more than one set of friends who scratched and saved for a trip to Disneyland but had not one hour of help postpartum. (Go long Disneyland, short midwifery if you’re into trading stocks!)

Regarding the cost of childbirth: let’s remember that it happens for free! We pay the people who support us in the process, but that’s a relatively new development in human history. In the hospital environment, we created scenarios where we often pay $40,000(!) or more for a few to several hours support, and I’ve never heard that referred to as indulgent or just for the wealthy.

In the end, I hope people don’t fixate on that example of the utmost level of postpartum care and they can see the message that for $1-2,000 on average, they can have an extraordinary—priceless—experience benefiting their entire family.

There are families that can’t afford even $50 per week for the first few to several weeks postpartum and believe me—having grown up literally hungry—my heart is with them. But they are not the people coming into my “travel agency,” or reading my book.  There are people who could afford labor and postpartum help but just aren’t interested—that’s cool. They’re not my target audience either.

So, it’s not classism—it’s just as the title says: it’s about “using a doula, midwife, postpartum doula, maid, cook or nanny to support healing, bonding and growth”—for people interested in that subject.

About the book being relevant only for “families with money.” Again, I’m happy you asked that and—this is me jumping in that mine field with both feet: How many people reading my book couldn’t budget to make monthly payments for a postpartum doula or budget $50 per week for a few weeks postpartum to have a little help—if that’s something they really find important for their family?

I could enter almost any average dwelling in America and find ways that a few thousand bucks (or far more) had been spent on nonessential, truly frivolous, and even discarded items the owners themselves now call “junk.”  Those kinds of budget allocations are valid choices that I’m not trying to change or influence—but if we make those choices and then claim we want labor or postpartum support and can’t afford any—we can’t say we’re too poor. We’ve just been misinformed and undisciplined, and that leads to poor choices. 

It’s natural to have shifting priorities, and parenthood often heralds the biggest changes in the way we allocate funds and time.  If everyone in the family is on the same page wanting some support postpartum and wanting more time to spend with their children, I believe there’s almost always a way to make it happen—to some degree. (This is the subject I address in my book Free Love: Everyday Ideas for Joyful Living.)

EP: You shared your own experiences and struggles with finances early in life, something I can definitely relate to.  However, do you think the experience of struggle without kids is equivalent to the experience of financial struggle with kids?  And do you feel our society sabotages how parents spend their money with kids by making families believe they need “things” more than they actually do?  If so, how can we counter this?

AC: Financial struggle with kids is greater than as a single person.  I saw my mother working to keep food on the table for my sister and me, and then I struggled as a young single person. I’ve seen it from both sides and of course that had a tremendous affect on the choices I made.  I could have married and had my family much younger than I did (married at 38, baby at 42), but having witnessed my mother’s challenges and how it affected all of us, I was resolved to wait until I could create—not the perfect scenario—but something I believed more peaceful and healthy.

I’ve traveled in over 50 countries and seen societies—wealthy and wretchedly poor—and how they cared for their families.  The knowledge I gained is perspective. Without perspective, we look around us and we think what we see is what IS. With perspective, we recognize that everything we see around us is simply a collection of choices that have been made from the millions of possibilities.

Yes, our culture sabotages families (and has contributed many gifts as well, but that’s not the subject here), and it does so in every country in which it spreads—which is now almost all of them. New car! Big house! Gadgets galore! Mountains of clothes! $100 plastic shoes by the dozen! Garage full of landfill-bound, forgotten plastic toys! How about a weekly $60 mani-pedi or a $200 hair-color every few months?

I’ve actually had a woman contact me saying she couldn’t afford postpartum help, but in a later discussion she revealed that she and her husband had a savings account to pay for her upcoming boob-job (no joke).

I’m not opposed to modern conveniences and luxuries. I’m all for them—if I can afford them and not if they come at the expense of family health and happiness.

Here in the US, parents say, “We want to stay home with our newborn, we want to feed our children well and spend quality time—but we just can’t afford it.”  “Can’t afford it” is the exact same reason women around the world say they stay home with their children and cook for the family—they can’t afford a car, gas, a wardrobe for work, daycare, restaurants, etc.

So who really can’t afford what? If the majority of people in the US—the wealthiest country in the world—“can’t afford” to spend more time with their children, no one could.  But that’s just not the case. This is a result of our collective and individual decisions and priorities.

Our modern approach to family is a perfect example of when the “solution” has become the problem. A way to counter it is right in our living room.  It can start this very minute and doesn’t cost a dime. One example (many more in Free Love): a family decision to spend one weekend a month cooking all their meals together at home instead of eating take-out; talking to each other during those meals rather than each tending to their individual screens; and strolling the neighborhood after dinner rather than watching TV or retreating to separate rooms.

EP: For many families, the father is the primary caregiver for mom and baby post-birth, and not just in a financial sense.  With families living apart, having relatives may be impossible, and so it falls to the dad to be supportive of mom and baby.  And many men live up to this role in the most amazing ways; however, it seems the role of the father as a helper is readily dismissed in the book, and almost seemed to laugh at the idea of dad being the primary support.  You even went so far as to call men “boys” and suggest they can’t handle a couple hours less sleep.  Do you think this assessment is fair to the many men who serve as the primary role of support for their wives?  What prompted the rather one-sided view you had? 

AC: Oh, yikes! I’m sorry it appeared one-sided. My dialogue about the father not being the ideal primary care taker was intended to be “family-sided” and based on what I’d seen around the world and studied about postpartum care.  The bit about men sometimes feeling elated about the birth, but sometimes feeling like dejected boys no longer in #1 position at mama’s breast…that was supposed to be something to make us laugh…and I think there are even many men who would laugh with that statement.

I’ve known many fathers who were stellar in their understanding and care postpartum.  My husband is one of them.  He attempted to take three weeks off postpartum, but since he’d only been in a new job for two months, we actually felt fortunate that he could be home for 7 days.  Despite working full days and a having a commute that was almost 4 hours round trip, he’d come home and spend time with our baby, helping me, and cleaning the house.

However, how many fathers in the US can take a month or even two weeks off from work? I know that many women don’t have partners who are capable of giving them the kind of care they need even when they have the desire and ability to do so—they just don’t have the time. If they’re working, they’re away from home 8-12 hours a day. And then, of course, there are moms who don’t live with or have any participation from the fathers.

What I wrote in New Mother is that it’s everyone’s postpartum time—dad’s, too.  He is elated over the birth, experiencing new emotions about his responsibilities, is losing sleep, is trying to maintain his focus at work, and he’s also new to parenthood (in the case of first-time parents).

Traditionally it was women (usually family members), with experience caring for newborns and postpartum women, who offered the primary help. This allowed everyone to settle into the new experience joyfully and with significantly reduced stress.

How does a new mom or dad know if the blood clot mom just passed is a “normal” size or if she’s hemorrhaging?  How does either know what to do if mom has a blocked duct or simply isn’t getting a good latch breastfeeding? How does dad know if mom is experiencing the normal hormonal shift and emotions that occur when mom’s milk comes in or if something more severe is happening?  With 30-50% of new moms in the US delivering their babies by surgery, that involves even more issues that can develop postpartum that neither mom nor dad would have a way to understand.

I agree that it’s not necessary. We don’t have to know these things. We don’t have to have someone prepare a few meals for us, to have answers to our dozens of questions immediately, or to have any outside support. We can do it all. Back to the example of the other family rite of passage: marriage. We don’t need the love and support of others and all that expense and fuss to get married. Jeez, don’t be a flashy diva or needy whiner…give the justice of the peace $50. and be done with it. (Just to be sure…I’m being facetious!)

My question is why? Why go through any life altering experience—with so much potential for joy and bonding—alone, exhausted and depleted? How comforting and peaceful to have a knowledgeable, experienced woman at our side who can allow mom and dad just a little more sleep?  Who, with her experience, can quickly help and dismiss concerns—leaving mom and dad to revel in the new spirit who’s joined their lives!

Opinions aside: Take a glance at the statistics of new mothers in the US suffering from PPD, PPP, failing to breastfeed when they wanted to, requiring pharmaceuticals to be able to function, returning to work as soon as possible and leaving the care of their newborns to strangers—especially in light of the statistics for these same issues in third-world countries. It’s clear that our approach to the postpartum time is flawed.

Postpartum support for the family (mom and dad) is not considered a luxury in cultures all around the world—it’s considered a part of childbirth and expected for families rich and poor. Try and tell a new grandmother in India that she won’t get to serve as the primary help for her daughter and son-in-law postpartum! Tell a new grandma in China that her son-in-law will be the only person providing for her daughter postpartum!  Here in the States, even when dad is 100% willing and able, even when grandma is present and wanting to help, a postpartum doula can still have a role in supporting the entire family.

EP: Much of your examples are based on your own experience of a mother to one child.  How do you think the advice you give would change, if at all, for a mother with more than one child?  For example, do you believe you would still never leave one of your children alone with your nanny if you had three kids?

AC: Just as a person without children can only say what they believe they would do as a parent, I can only say what I believe I would do if I had more than one child. I don’t leave my daughter alone with a babysitter or nanny, and I believe I wouldn’t leave my children alone with someone outside the family circle of trust (such as a beloved, trusted grandparent, aunt, etc.) regardless of the number of children, and even if family members aren’t available because they live in other states or countries, as in my situation.  Of course safety is a major factor, but as I emphasize in New Mother—when I have help it’s so I can spend even more quality time with my daughter, not less.  I have a friend who’s been a real inspiration. She has three children (11, 16, and 19) and she’s homeschooled all of them. She has never left them alone with someone outside of trusted family members. Her oldest just left this month for college (scholarship offers from 3 excellent universities!)—she’s done this for a long time and with joy.

When we don’t know people, there are measures we can take to attempt to discover their character: background checks, call referrals, nanny-cams, etc.  Needing to do that, for me, would just reinforce that I don’t know enough to trust that person with the care of my child.  However, many people do the research, trust their instinct, and trust their children to the care of people who are new to the family.

My husband and I came to the decisions we have together for what we believe is healthiest and happiest for us.  It’s something I believe every family should determine for themselves.

EP: You were able to have multiple servants it seems – post-partum doula, maid, personal assistant, nanny – but if you were only able to afford one, who do you think it would be and why?  What would you suggest to a mother who only was able to spend $100 a month on these kinds of services? 

AC: Whoa!  That would be amazing, but that wasn’t the case.  After a false start with a postpartum doula who went camping without cell phone reception the week I had my baby, we found someone who was with us several weeks and then went to work with another family and their newborn.  She’s from China and the “sitting moon” practice I describe in New Mother was her method of postpartum care—something common in many cultures and what I’d wish for every woman.

The situation you’re referring to above was several months later when I found wonderful help: part-time, one person.  She was great with children and she was happy to help with whatever housework necessary.  She didn’t know how to cook but was happy to learn, so she helped in the kitchen, too.  We joked about whether her title was nanny, maid, or cook.  She decided on “house manager” and I decided on “personal assistant.” This role could have also been called “mother’s hands”—meaning helping in whatever way contributes most on any given day.

On a budget of $100 per month, I’d look for just that: “mother’s hands.” With that budget, depending on the region and local rates, that would be approximately 7-10 hours of help that could be allocated on a schedule that the family and help determine together. This person would arrive at the family’s home ready to do whatever best served on that day.  One day it might be most helpful if she’d do laundry and dishes.  Another day mom or dad might want some quiet time at home, to tend to the stack of bills waiting to be paid, or to take more than a 1-minute shower and catch up on personal grooming. Then playing with the baby/children would be most helpful.

EP: The use of all of this help mentioned throughout the book sounds beautiful and I wish every mother could experience it.  The thought of all mothers having (a) time with their babies and (b) help around the house to alleviate depression, stress, anxiety, etc. is nothing short of what a society should embrace.  Do you think we’ll ever get to a stage where these things can be a reality for most women?  When we know other countries offer this type of instrumental support to new moms, even on a limited basis of a couple hours a week, do you think the US would ever embrace this type of support for families as a national program? 

AC: I do believe this can be a reality for at least the great majority—because we don’t have to get “to” that stage…we just have to “get back to” it.  Plus, it’s the case for millions of women in other countries with far greater financial struggles than we’ve ever known.  From Mexico, to Japan, Korea and China, to Europe, the Middle East and India—whenever I tell friends there about the postpartum experience in the US (or the L&D experience, or the postpartum care of mothers after miscarriage), they are in shock and find it hard to believe.

More than a little ironic, isn’t it? Can it be that we’re just unwilling to shift priorities, moving family up the list?

Paid postpartum support as a national program—in the US? More remarkable changes have occurred, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • We’re ranked 136th in the world for maternal mortality (not at the top, not the bottom—somewhere in the middle with the likes of Lebanon and Iran) and the maternal death rate in the U.S. is approximately double what it was 25 years ago.
  • We’re one of only a handful of countries in the world that mandates no paid maternity/paternity leave (others being Swaziland and Papua New Guinea).
  • We treat mothers of miscarriage (approximately 1,000,000 women a year) as if they’ve had a bout of the stomach flu. *

Maternal health/care has clearly not been a priority in our society—which means newborn health/care have not been our priority. Let’s say it again: even during times of great challenge, we’re still the wealthiest country on Earth.  If any country could offer quality maternity and postpartum care—whether through government initiatives or individual change—we’re it.

I believe we’re creating that change with a shift in priorities, one-by-one. That’s one of the many fantastic things about our American culture: If we want something–even if it takes us a while–we’re creative, we’re tenacious, and we’ll find a way to make it happen!

EP: Thank you so much for sharing the book and sharing your ideas.  One great side effect of the book was seeing an honest valuation of the postpartum doula and other service roles, something that is needed as more and more people expect to pay less for such services.  The proper valuation of a month post-birth with full support at $10,000 is far too high for 99% of families, but highlights how much we need communities to come together so that all women can experience this support.  If friends could replace these roles and provide food, do some light cleaning or laundry, or just offer to help mom with a break, we would probably see a drastic reduction in postpartum depression and feelings of isolation for many new moms.  If people can read the book to see the value in this type of support for moms, hopefully we can find ways for moms to get this without having to pay the fees that many can’t afford.  So thank you for writing something that gets this conversation going.

AC: No one person’s ideas will be appropriate for everyone, but ideas are food for thought that always do one of two things: they affirm us in our beliefs or they inspire us to rethink.  Either way, a positive! Thank you for asking me to share my ideas here.

*Since the concept of postpartum care for mothers of miscarriage is entirely new to most people, here is a link to an article I wrote on this subject for those interested in learning more: http://alliechee.blogspot.com/2012/11/after-miscarriage.html