Mothers deserve better. Babies deserve better. Families deserve better.
I lay on the operating table staring up at the ceiling. There were over 10 people in the room, and I never felt so alone. I heard my baby girl crying in the far corner of the room searching for me. My heart longed for her to be on my chest as requested.
I heard congratulations said throughout the room. I didn’t feel like I had anything to be congratulated for. My husband held my hand and rubbed my shoulder. Even through the mask, he knew my facial expressions well enough to know I wasn’t happy. As I stared blankly at the ceiling, the anesthesiologist asked if I was okay. I wasn’t okay. I nodded to let her know I could hear her.
In these 10 minutes my trauma set in. My request to have immediate skin to skin denied for no good reason…the lack of a trained professional to vaginally deliver my breech baby…an unknown male OBGYN filling in for my familiar trusted female OBGYN…a procedure starting before my husband was at my side as he waited ready to join us down the hallway…my water breaking a few days before my scheduled ECV…my failed attempts to flip my beautiful breech baby with inversions and acupuncture…a surgery my body, mind, and spirit did everything it knew how to avoid.
Finally, my beautiful girl was placed on my chest and I latched her onto my breast immediately. Her cries settled as she listened to my familiar heart beat and nestled into my warmth. We were spared the NICU. I don’t think I could have handled it. I admire the strength of those who do.
Although well cared for medically during my acute hospital stay, I was astonished at the absence of the rehabilitation team. My primary mobility guidance came from my CNA based on her personal experience. As a physical therapist, I was fortunate to have my prior knowledge to guide me through my bed mobility, transfers, and initial gait training. And it was still so painful and hard! I thought about all the mothers left to figure things out on their own. I reflected on my time spent in acute care as a PT and all the standard PT Eval and Treat orders received for post-op patients. Mothers deserve better. Babies deserve better. Families deserve better.
The transition home had a new set of challenges managing a car transfer, eager toddler, and set of stairs. Again, I relied on my training as a PT and thought about all those managing through trial and error. I was sent home with a prescription for 5 days of pain medication on a regimen less effective than what I was on in hospital. Thankfully with my medical training, I felt confident enough to reach out to my doctor for more. I thought of all those who may not be. Mothers deserve better. Babies deserve better. Families deserve better.
I had stocked up on ice packs, thought to ask for an abdominal binder at the hospital, and began to research C-section recovery compression garments. I reached out to friends who had also had C-sections for support. My previous birth educator connected me with an on-line C-section support group. We let our village know we needed help, and they surrounded us with food and love from afar.
At my OBGYN appointment, I had to advocate for myself to receive a referral to OP Pelvic Health PT. I thought about all the mothers who didn’t know to ask. I ended up having to pay out of pocket for the majority of my recovery expenses. I thought about all those who couldn’t afford this necessary care. Mothers deserve better. Babies deserve better. Families deserve better.
Through this transformative process, my passion to improve the whole pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum experience was ignited. I have worked over the past year to heal my body, mind, and spirit. I have held my baby girl tight as we healed each other. I have begun to educate myself to join this amazing group of therapists dedicated to supporting others through their pelvic health journeys. I have begun to speak up at my healthcare system to advocate for the rights of women to access rehabilitation services during pregnancy, acutely after delivery, and ongoing in the postpartum phase. I plan to advocate for families not only locally, but also nationally. Mothers deserve better. Babies deserve better. Families deserve better.
I am honored to receive this scholarship from the Academy of Pelvic Health to pursue my education to serve the pregnant and postpartum population. I am humbled as I join a group of professionals dedicated to this intimate area of practice. I look forward to learning, collaborating, and growing with all of you.
Written by Katie Newhouse
Author Bio: Katie is a doctor of physical therapy with over 12 years of experience across the continuum of care. She is a board certified clinical specialist in neurologic physical therapy (NCS) and a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200). She is actively involved in the Long Beach/South Bay District of the CPTA and currently serves as the Nominating Committee Chair. She is passionate about improving the pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum experience for mothers, babies, and families.