Living a postpartum with a Kraamzorg for a serene parenthood

Living a postpartum with a Kraamzorg for a serene parenthood

In the Netherlands, couples benefit from a postpartum Mary Poppins, called “kraamzorg”, as soon as they leave the maternity ward. In their book, Delphine Petit-Postma and Marion Joseph detail the workings of a valuable profession to avoid the tsunami that follows childbirth.

Kraamzorg. If the term seems straight out of the world of science fiction and robots, it actually hides a human resource sometimes essential to live a serene postpartum. In Dutch, it literally means “maternity care”. Unknown in France, this profession is very popular in the Netherlands. And for good reason, its heavy task is to accompany couples at home during the eight days following the birth of the child.

This mission, recognized as being of public utility and almost totally reimbursed in the Netherlands, is the pride of Delphine Petit-Postma, a French expatriate, and herself kraamzorg. After attracting the attention of Marion Joseph, journalist, editor-in-chief at Figaro.frand creator of the blog “Parlons Maman”, the two women are now signing the guide A gentle postpartum, the Dutch Kraamzorg model (1), filled with advice and testimonials.

In video, the trailer for “Post-partum the documentary”, by director Ève Simonet.

Madame Figaro – On a purely medical level, the postpartum extends from the expulsion of the placenta to the resumption of the first rules. But in reality, it is an upheaval of body and mind that can last up to three years. In what way is the accompaniment of the kraamzorg the first eight days decisive?
Marion Joseph.- The first moments can be difficult for the mother. She is tired and may feel sometimes intense postpartum pain. Without forgetting that she discovers the child and all the first times; the first bottles, the first baths… In France, we learn these gestures in the hospital but as soon as we cross the threshold of maternity, we find ourselves left to our own devices, facing the unknown, in full fall of hormones, on D+3. It is precisely at this moment that support becomes essential. Personally, I remember being paralyzed at the idea of ​​giving my daughter a first bath. In the Netherlands, women are not so isolated. For more than 100 years, the kraamzorg intervenes on average 6 hours after childbirth, even from the moment of birth. She replaces neither the midwife nor the doctor, but her three-year medical training allows her to control stitches, manage pain but also emotions and daily tasks. And its interest is undeniable: there are half as many postpartum depressions among Dutch women.

In addition to maternity care, the kraamzorg is involved in household life and stewardship. How does this support take place concretely during the week?
She can already assist the midwife on the day of delivery. After the birth, for eight days and several hours a day, her role is to be with the parents, to guide them, to accompany them everywhere. The kraamzorg also takes over to prepare the meal, fold the laundry, change the sheets, clean the toilets and even keep the baby while the mother rests. To prevent her departure from being abrupt, she gradually reduces her time of presence as the week progresses.

The benefit of kraamzorg is undeniable: there are half as many postpartum depressions among Dutch women

Marion Joseph

Is the father involved?
Yes, he too is responsible for the care and care of the child. Moreover, fathers are often shown the first steps of the bath, while the mother is resting, so that he can then show her and share this experience. In France, a lot of information does not reach the fathers, because some maternities still do not admit the presence of the partner in the evening. However, this unbalances parental responsibility. Here, the kraamzorg offers her an attentive ear, encourages her to confide her feelings and to discuss with her all the subjects, even the most delicate, such as shaken baby syndrome.

Some are also specialized in “silent” births, those of babies born lifeless after 24 weeks. What is their role?
They mainly take care of the mother’s care and psychologically support the parents after the loss, but also the siblings and the rest of the family if necessary. They are present for the administrative procedures, the preparation of the funeral, and also take care of the announcements. The kraamzorg can also help collect memories of the missing child, by taking pictures or making footprints.

Is this model transposable to France?
Yes it’s possible. Finally, this job is similar to that of the childcare assistant in charge of the care of the baby in the maternity ward, or of a doula, birth attendant. For several years, the midwife Anna Roy, who signs our preface, has campaigned for each patient to benefit from such help. But for now, unlike in the Netherlands, this home support is not reimbursed by Social Security, and to get the services of a doula, it takes between 50 and 120 euros for a session. 1h30 or 2h.

In France, the medical profession remains very wary of doulas, while kraamzorgs take an oath and receive a prestigious medal at the end of their studies… How to explain this?
We point the finger at their lack of medical training, which is fair, but they are associated, often wrongly, with the excesses of alternative medicine that advocates all-natural medicine. However, they have the merit of existing in a country where, apart from the medical aspect, there is a cruel lack of complete support in parenthood.

Doulas have the merit of existing in a country where, apart from the medical aspect, there is a severe lack of complete support in parenthood.

Marion Joseph

The systematic postnatal interview between the 4th and 8th week after childbirth, set up since July 1, can it precisely change the situation?
It is an essential first step, yes, because the interview draws the attention of health professionals to the physical and psychological recovery of mothers. The latter are also more driven to question their emotions after birth. We forget ourselves very quickly when we become a mother, and the reason is simple: societal injunctions make women believe that they must always aim for the best, and excel on all fronts, as a mother, wife and employee. Only no one is immune to postpartum depression. This time and space to speak can therefore help to remove shame and guilt.

Are the politicians getting enough of the issue?
With the creation of the 1000-day commission (think tank of 18 experts for the development and security of the child during his first 1000 days, Editor’s note) and the extension of paternity leave, the public authorities are moving in the right direction. But we can do much more. I also sent our book to Prisca Thévenot, MP and spokesperson for the Renaissance group, who is very involved in these health issues. She wants to create a care pathway adapted to women. One thing is certain: taking into account the upheavals associated with motherhood will reduce postpartum depression but also their cost to society. In my opinion, the main project to be carried out concerns parental leave. It should be extended by six months and distributed more equitably between the father and the mother, so that everyone is on the same footing in the family.

A famous African proverb says thatit takes a whole village to educate a child». Studies in anthropology support this theory: without mutual assistance outside the family, our human species would not have survived. Should parenthood be extended beyond blood ties?
Yes, that is what is recommended in the book. Parenthood requires us to draw on our resources on a daily basis, but they are not inexhaustible. By relying on someone, sometimes passing the baton to a member of his family, a friend or a kraamzorg, we undeniably lighten up. And in their contact, the child socializes and perceives another outlook on life. If you can’t find a relative nearby, you can approach a network of parents, or a local maternity café. We discuss daily life, joys and difficulties.

Taking into account the upheavals linked to motherhood will reduce postpartum depression but also their cost to society.

Marion Joseph

Among the advice given to parents and family during the postpartum period, you recommend treating yourself or your mother to a rebozo massage. What is it about ?
It is a traditional Mexican treatment, originally performed by women for women, at each important period of their lives, so that they can reconnect with themselves. The ritual includes a four-handed massage, a hot bath or hammam, then a time of sweating under blankets. The whole thing ends with a bandage of the pelvis; thanks to a sort of cotton shawl, the whole body is cradled. This technique allows the mother to relax and refocus on herself. It is recommended to perform it at least 40 days after childbirth, when the body begins to recover.

For many women, returning to work is stressful. Should we also think about a form of professional support?
Definitely. Thinking about returning to work also means asking yourself about this new professional life that will inevitably be upset by the new role of parent. It would be necessary to be able to rely on support networks, to prepare for it, to write the balance sheet of this maternity leave, to communicate better with its employer and even in certain situations, to wonder about its motivation to return there. If necessary, you can also request an adjustment of your schedule.


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