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What is a Postpartum Midwife? An Interview with a Bay Area Postpartum Midwife

children hugging their mother's pregnant belly

The postpartum time period is a time of healing, connection and adjustment. For these reasons, it can be difficult for new parents to get out of the house; even for necessary things such as postpartum checkups or an unexpected case of mastitis. Enter the postpartum midwife who can help with all of the above!

As maternity and newborn photographer with clients who often don’t have local family, I see what a need there is for quality postpartum care. As someone who birthed my own two children, I also know how challenging it can be to leave the house for even necessary appointments after giving birth. That’s why I was so glad to meet Bay Area postpartum midwife Melanie Staehelin; the owner of Forty Days Midwifery.

Melanie was kind enough to fill me in on all that postpartum midwives can help new families with. Read on to learn more!

Q&A with Forty Days Midwifery: A Bay Area Postpartum Midwife

What is a postpartum midwife?

A postpartum nurse-midwife is a medical provider who provides comprehensive, evidence-based, patient centered care just before and during the postpartum period. The care provided encompasses many aspects of health including healing from labor and birth, establishing a healthy breast/chest feeding relationship, birth processing, mental health wellbeing, perineal healing and ongoing pelvic health functioning, and more! The midwife will guide you through the experience so that you know what to expect at every stage of the process, and support you throughout your journey. When something is not right it will be detected early on, when it is easier to treat.

What services do you provide?

I provide a range of services to meet the individual needs of the clients I work with. They include comprehensive postpartum care packages, during which I visit the birth parent in their home for the first 2-6 weeks postpartum, one-off visits to address a specific need or concern (e.g., is that red lump on your breast mastitis and do you need to start antibiotics?), as well as prenatal consultations during which we prepare for the postpartum period.

My specialty areas include: Postpartum physical and mental health, lactation, baby wearing, pelvic health, and reproductive health.

What is the significance of forty days?

In many cultures around the world, the birth of a child is followed by a period of rest for the birth parent, during which the community cares for the new mother so that she can recover from birth and bond with her child. Sadly, this custom has been lost in our culture, which emphasizes “getting back to your old self” as quickly as possible. To make matters more difficult for birthparents, our medical system doesn’t provide quality postpartum care. Most people will only get one quick “check-up” at 4-6 weeks postpartum. Unfortunately, the time between discharge from the hospital and the final checkup is when most challenges come up that can cause significant discomfort and suffering, and interfere with healing and bonding. As a mother and midwife, I truly believe that one of the most important gifts a woman can give her children is to heal herself, and that is what drives and informs the care I offer through Forty Days Midwifery. My goal is to keep mothers home with their sweet babies, while I bring the care to them.

What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

The differences between midwives and doulas is both the training they’ve received and the type of care they provide. A midwife has completed a master’s degree in women’s health and holds a medical degree and license. In practice, their role is like that of a physician in that they are licensed to diagnose complex health issues and prescribe needed medication. A doula is a professional who provides invaluable non-medical support such as through birth coaching, assistance with the newborn and comforting massage.

What questions should someone ask a potential postpartum midwife to see if they’re a good fit for them?

Postpartum support comes in many different forms. During a consultation it is important to think about what type of care one envisions they will want postpartum. Is it care with the newborn, help with house chores, help with an older sibling, assistance with lactation, guidance with pelvic floor recovery, or something else? Once one has a better sense of their needs, they can assess whether the professional they’re meeting with offers the service they’re seeking. Depending on what their most significant areas of needs are, Forty Days Midwifery will guide people to the right professionals. Oftentimes, families will work with several specialists; as they say, it really takes a village!

Does insurance cover the cost of a midwife? What are some options for covering the cost of this type of support?

Insurance will cover the cost of prenatal care and delivery care with nurse-midwives. Whether or not they cover specific postpartum services (regardless of the provider type) depends on the individual insurance. Forty Days Midwifery offers a sliding scale to make their services as accessible as possible.

What area do you service?

Forty Days Midwifery provides virtual consultations to anyone in California. In-person services are available to those who live in the area from South San Francisco to San Jose.

For more information about Melanie and Forty Days Midwifery Bay Area postpartum midwife services, visit her website.

If you found this information useful, you might also enjoy the following:
Blossom Birth and Family
Bay City Doulas
What to Expect from Your In-Home Newborn Photography Session

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