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Natural Awakenings Boston

The Journey to Parenthood: Perinatal Wellness Addresses Needs Along the Way

by Natural Awakenings staff

The journey of becoming a parent is unpredictable, fraught with unexpected challenges and struggles, driven by hope and the promise of miraculous love. It is a journey no one can understand until immersed in the experience.

When couples, or single parents by choice, first begin to embark on the journey to parenthood, the hopeful anticipation overshadows the potential pitfalls that could be ahead. Even when the journey is smooth, most prospective parents have no idea what to expect of their bodies, their emotions and the next steps. Karina Beleno Carney, reproductive acupuncturist, owner and clinical director of Life Gate Holistic Living Center, a perinatal wellness and resource center, in Groton, offers a holistic, collaborative care model, that addresses the physical, emotional, spiritual and practical aspects of the journey to parenthood. 

“We no longer have the village, in which young children are regularly exposed to pregnancy, childbirth and the care of newborns and people beyond the immediate family creating a support system for joy and grief,” she says. Centers, like Life Gate Holistic Living Center, are starting to pop up around the country that focus on perinatal wellness. Perinatal literally translates to “around birth.” It is in this that perinatal wellness can help recreate the village. 

Carney realized after having her third child of her own how few resources there are for new families outside of an urban area. “Our rural and suburban families often live in some form of isolation, whether geographically, or in the passing acquaintance of barely knowing their neighbors. The globalization of our society also means that our closest friends and families can often live some significant distance away,” she explains.

As a result, struggles with infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, and postpartum depression and anxiety are often ignored or hidden. The medical care that women receive, with the advancement of specialized care, is excellent in that so many care options are available to prospective and new parents. However, the care is compartmentalized, lacking continuity and education for the next steps. 

“I often have infertility clients who are so immersed in the infertility journey, that they are completely unprepared for actually being pregnant,” she shares. Once pregnant, if couples have experienced loss, they sometimes find it difficult getting excited past the fear of another loss. This leaves them completely unprepared for labor and delivery. With the medicalization of birth, and a lack of education and understanding of the birthing process, women are often left with little sense of control or empowerment in their bodies or decisions. This can lead to traumatic birth experiences, and an increased incidence of postpartum depression or anxiety. 

By providing continuity of holistic care and education from preconception, through pregnancy, and into the postpartum year, feelings of isolation, fear and despair can be mitigated. Hopelessness can be transformed to empowerment. 

Life Gate Holistic Living Center is located at 66 Boston Rd., Groton. For more information, call 978-448-0405 or visit LifeGate