Bridging the Gap in Postpartum Care: Dr. Kristal Lau’s Holistic Approach To Helping New Mothers Survive and Thrive in Their First Year of Motherhood

Bridging the Gap in Postpartum Care: Dr. Kristal Lau's Holistic Approach To Helping New Mothers Survive and Thrive in Their First Year of Motherhood
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The postpartum period, often termed the ‘fourth trimester,’ is a crucial phase of maternal care that is unfortunately overlooked in many countries. The lack of post-hospital care guidance leaves new mothers grappling with the complex physical, emotional, and social adjustments that accompany early motherhood. This gap in comprehensive postpartum care calls for a more holistic perspective, one that Dr. Kristal Lau, a physician and postpartum wellness consultant, is actively addressing. Drawing from her personal experiences and medical training, Dr. Lau merges traditional wisdom with modern insights to redefine postpartum wellness. Whether encouraging the Pomodoro Technique, creating flexible workspaces, finding a strong  support group, or finding your form of ‘Zuo Yue Zi’ (a postpartum confinement practice based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese culture where a mom does nothing but rest and feed her baby while supported by family), her innovative approach aims to empower new mothers, ensuring they feel supported and confident as they navigate this transformative phase of life.

From Geriatrics to Postpartum Care

Dr. Kristal Lau’s journey started in adult and geriatric medicine, with no particular interest in maternal wellness. However, her personal experiences as a mother exposed her to the gaps in postpartum care. “Despite my medical background, I felt completely unprepared for my own postpartum journey,” she shares. That’s when she had an epiphany. She realized that the comprehensive strategies she applied in geriatric medicine could have been beneficial for her as a new mother. “Everything that we did from making sure their house was safe, to forming a network for outside hospital care, and grocery planning applies to new mothers. ”Experiencing postpartum care in different cultures, from traditional Chinese practices to Germany’s health system of midwife postpartum support, she recognized a significant need for improved postpartum wellness support as a whole. She also observed that society’s expectation of a ‘super mom’ often left new mothers unsupported over time. These experiences sparked Dr. Lau’s transition from geriatric to postpartum wellness, aiming to address the overlooked needs of new mothers.

Yes, Mom Brain Is Scientifically Proven

The first step in her journey was understanding the myriad of challenges that moms face during the first year of postpartum.  First, there’s the pervasive ‘mom guilt,’ a complex cocktail of self-imposed pressure and societal expectations. Then there’s the ‘fourth trimester,’ and ‘matrescence,’ which is the transformative process of becoming a mother. The hormonal, physical, and mental shifts that take place during this time are very real. Although the body technically takes 6-8 weeks to recover from pregnancy, realistically, it takes longer. Adding to this, ‘matrescence,’ a term likened to adolescence but in the maternal context, encompasses the physical, mental, and identity transformations mothers undergo, starting from the realization of becoming a parent. Remarkably, the brain undergoes significant changes too. Small studies have shown that the volume of grey matter of a new mother’s brain changes within the first 2 years of postpartum and beyond.. These clear changes to a mother’s biology after having children underline the pressing need for comprehensive postpartum care.

“Zuo Yue Zi” and Military Support Systems

Dr. Lau’s approach to postpartum wellness is a unique blend of strategies drawn from her diverse experiences in healthcare, U.S. military community involvement, and personal life. “My postpartum wellness model is adapted from the 5 Pillars of Readiness and Resiliency used by the US Army to ensure their Soldiers are mission ready. Similarly, my model frames a new mother’s postpartum journey and Matrescence as being guided by the 5 Pillars of Postpartum Wellness: physical, emotional, social, family, and spiritual.”

The Physical pillar focuses on the new mother’s physical recovery and rehabilitation process, including sleep and nutrition. The Emotional pillar is about building emotional resilience and managing mental health. The social pillar revolves around building a supportive network of peers, friends, and family, including health and service providers. In the Family pillar, Dr. Lau emphasizes that just like a Soldier, a mother needs her family taken care of so that she too can thrive. The Spiritual pillar speaks to a new mother’s spiritual or religious side, aiming to honor and respect her beliefs, culture, and family traditions.

What sets Dr. Lau apart is how she can integrate all of her experiences from being a mom to caring for adult patients, from her family background to being a military spouse to create the perfect program for helping new moms find the support and help they need to thrive in their postpartum journey.

I Don’t Want To See You Here In A Year

Dr. Lau measures the success of her postpartum wellness program with one simple statement. “When my clients feel that they no longer need my help–that’s when I’m successful. This means that they have developed their confidence and established a durable blueprint to help them navigate the rest of their Matrescence.” 

Her approach is based on three steps. The first, Postpartum Recovery Planning, starts even before the baby arrives. It involves preparing the new mother’s environment, network, and resources during the third trimester of pregnancy. 

The second step, Fourth Trimester R&R (Rest and Recover), focuses on implementing the postpartum plan and adjusting things as needed for the new mother to ease into her Matrescence. The Final step, Survive and Thrive, teaches mothers how to manage the stress of being a new parent, maintaining relationships, and juggling work with motherhood.

If you are interested in learning more tips about being a new mom, you can visit Dr. Kristal’s website or visit her Instagram.


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