Interview with Rachelle Garcia Seliga, midwife and postpartum care practitioner in Ashland, Oregon

I am honored to introduce you to Rachelle Garcia Seliga, CPM.  Her dedication to, vision and practice of postpartum care has potential to have a huge impact both in the lives of the mothers she serves and in the birth community as a whole.  I love how she emphasizes that postpartum care is essential for life-long health, and is not a luxury.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Rachelle Garcia Seliga.  I am a Mother, a wife and a midwife (CPM).  My family and I live in Ashland, Oregon where I have a Holistic Well-Women Care practice.

What I absolutely love is understanding and bringing awareness to our incredible physiological design as humans.  We have a blueprint within our very cells, our very structure that shows us how to optimally care for ourselves.  All we need to do is pay attention and follow what nature has so perfectly mapped out for us to thrive.

The original postpartum traditions throughout the world while specific to the cultural context in which they come—all share deep common roots.  They point to the importance of warmth after birth; they point to the importance of an extended resting period after birth; they point to the importance of specific food—warming in nature after birth; they point to some type of belly binding and uterine support after birth; and they point to massage/bodywork after birth.  These commonalities of postpartum traditions throughout the world are not a coincidence—these traditions are rooted in our biological design.  Our ancestors understood this design and their postpartum traditions (as with other healing traditions) were born from this understanding.

What is ‘Physiologic Postpartum Care’?

‘Physiologic Birth’ is now understood in the birth community and defined as: “Birth that is powered by the innate human capacity of the woman and fetus.  This birth is more likely to be safe and healthy because there is no unnecessary intervention that disrupts normal physiologic processes.”

The same phenomenon is true for the postpartum period.  We have a PHYSIOLOGICAL design of what our needs are postpartum in order for optimal results to be achieved.  The optimal results in regards to the postpartum period, is not just the survival of Mother and baby—but it is the THRIVING of Mother and baby.  We have been surviving as Mothers and babies in modern times—but on a whole we have not been thriving.

Physiologic Postpartum Care follows the map of our biological design, offering appropriate postpartum care to women.  When women are cared for holistically during the postpartum period, they are best able to care for their children and their families.  When families are cared for and flourishing, so are our communities.  When our communities are flourishing, so too is our world.  Physiologic Postpartum Care is one of the most effective ways to properly care for the future generations.

How do you serve postpartum women?

In my private practice, I offer Maya Abdominal Therapy, Holistic Pelvic Care TM and various supportive therapies to women after birth.  This work I do helps to return the uterus and bladder to their optimal positioning, restores pelvic balance and prevents as well as corrects many postpartum symptoms such as pelvic pain, discomfort and muscle weakness.  Postpartum bodywork nourishes the womb and body after the tremendous work of pregnancy and birth, aiding in recovery and revitalizing the root.  In offering postpartum bodywork to women, I also support women in integrating their birth experiences, especially if birth was traumatic in any way.  I work to nurture the Soul of women so that the postpartum period may be deeply restorative, creating a solid foundation from which to mother from for many years to come.

As well, I serve postpartum women through the class I offer for birth-workers called:  Innate  Postpartum Care— Re-membering our Global Postpartum Tradition.  This class calls upon the commonalities of postpartum traditions throughout the world and shows how these traditions follow our physiologic blueprint.  In many of these ancient postpartum traditions it is said that:  How women are cared for during the postpartum period will directly affect their health during menopause and beyond.  This class offers the physiologic understanding as to –why- this is.  In my class I offer many tangible postpartum bodywork techniques from traditional teachings—which are woven together with modern science to explain why proper postpartum care is NOT a luxury, but a necessity.  I have created this class so that those who work with postpartum families will have a deep understanding of the science behind their loving work, as well as tangible tools to support women’s healing.  This class is an incredible opportunity to understand our bodies as women—and in so doing understand the inherent beauty of creation.  There are classes coming up. Read more here.

How does this ‘Physiologic Postpartum Care’ movement inform our understanding of postpartum care in general?

When we truly understand something and its implications, we are more likely to value and take care of it.  I believe that when we understand the physiology of the postpartum time as women and as birthworkers—we will make postpartum care a priority.

Here below I offer one example of how taking care of our pelvic floor health during the postpartum time affects our health in the menopausal years and beyond:

A growing volume of literature on pelvic floor health implicates childbirth as the initiation of a whole host of conditions.  These conditions include but are not limited to the following:  stress urinary incontinence, incontinence of flatus or feces, uterine prolapse, cystocele (bladder prolapsing into vagina), and rectocele (rectum prolapsing into vagina).  Many variables affect the duration and severity of these pelvic conditions, including the health of a woman’s vaginal tissues, the size of the infant she birthed, the route of delivery, and the degree of perineal trauma that occurs.  However:  Even when full recovery of pelvic floor integrity appears to be the case, menopause may elicit a return of many of these problems as the collagen support of estrogen is withdrawn. 

What this means, is that the Estrogen levels we experience during our childbearing years may –mask—the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction until we reach our menopausal years and estrogen levels drop. The pelvic symptoms that we then become aware of as we enter into menopause may have actually been there since birthing our babies.

For optimal healing after birth—Pelvic floor work is essential to re-establish synergy and vitality in the pelvic bowl.  Taking care of our pelvic bowl after birth is a preventative medicine for pelvic health through our post-menopausal years.  It is of interest to note, that the French government currently covers the expense for each woman to have 10-20 pelvic physical therapy sessions after birth!

And what message do you have for all mothers?

The time is here for us to see postpartum care as a necessity and not a luxury.  In the same way we want the best for our health when we are pregnant—we need to demand the same in the postpartum period.  There is a cultural denial of self-care in our modern world and self-care truly is the way to respect and honor the tremendous work that is Mothering.  Self-care during the postpartum period sets the stage for us to mother with dignity for the whole of our lives.

The time has arrived to create a global culture, a global standard for ‘humanized postpartum care,’ in the same way that it has been done for prenatal care and birth.  The early postpartum period truly is a minimum of 6 weeks, and most women whom I have worked with do not feel completely back in their bodies until about 2-3 years after birth.  We as women need to re-define the postpartum period in a way that truly serves us.

We women are the foundation, the Soul of the people—when we are thriving, our people thrive.  I see us bringing together the wisdom of all our ancestors, to carry forth into the future traditions that serve the highest good of life.

To read more about Rachelle’s work and for well-women consultations visit her site, Innate Traditions.  Learn more about her upcoming class, Innate Postpartum Care.


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