Find Orlando Family Magazine on Facebook! Follow Orlando Family Magazine on Twitter! Orlando Family Magazine RSS Feed

Oh Baby! Can a Postpartum Doula Help?

Corey Engmann never imagined hiring a postpartum doula until she learned she was expecting twins. Feeling overwhelmed and worried about how she would handle two newborns, along with the pressing needs of her two-year-old, she turned to Teresa Marshall, a certified birth and postpartum doula, for help following the twins’ birth.

Marshall spent five nights a week for four months at Engmann’s home once the twins arrived providing physical and emotional support. Her assistance enabled Engmann to get the sleep she needed to recover from a physically demanding pregnancy and delivery. “I can easily say that hiring Teresa was the best thing I have ever done for myself and our family,” Engmann says. “During the day I could be present, loving and enjoying all three of my children. It wasn’t the endless cycle of fatigue and frustration as it sometimes was during the first few months with my first child.”

What is a Postpartum Doula?

The first six weeks after a newborn arrives can be a mixture of happiness and anxiety as mom settles into a new routine. Many of today’s new mothers lack the support network that generations of mothers have relied on. Close family and friends are far-flung and partners return to work within days. A postpartum doula can provide the experience and valuable support that a new mother may be missing.

“A lot of women are waiting to have children until they are much older. Their parents are older or live in other parts of the country,” says Marshall who, in addition to her work as a birth and postpartum doula, is a facilitator for a pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety support group. “With postpartum depression being a risk, it’s so important for women not to be isolated.” The support of a postpartum doula can be especially helpful to mothers who:

  • have a history of depression or postpartum depression.
  • don’t have loved ones nearby to rely on.
  • are expecting multiples.
  • have other little ones demanding their attention.

“I am convinced that Teresa saved my life. As most moms have felt at one time or another, I was often wondering and questioning if what I was doing was the right thing for my children and, with twins, the responsibility is so unbelievably overwhelming,” Engmann says.

Mothering the Mother

A mom who spends hours alone with her baby can easily spiral into emotional and physical exhaustion, which can put her at greater risk for postpartum anxiety or depression. During this challenging transition period, often called the fourth trimester, a postpartum doula can provide calm reassurance and support to a new mama and her family.

“When moms feel supported at home and they are getting what they need, the rates of postpartum depression are reduced,” says Kate Kripke, LCSW, an expert in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and contributor to PostpartumProgress.com. “There is a lot to be said about the role the postpartum doula plays in simply mothering the mother after giving birth that can be incredibly preventive for lots of women.”

In addition to helping to care for the baby, postpartum doulas often help with light housework, errands, cooking, crowd control, and caring for siblings. Many are also trained to recognize the signs of postpartum depression and provide resources to the moms they support. “When doulas are educated in what to look for, they’re one of the first people to pick up on and identify when something is going on with the mom,” Kripke says.

What is Postpartum Depression?

According to Postpartum Support International, 1-in-8 women suffer from postpartum depression. Symptoms which, according to MayoClinic.org, last longer than “baby blues” and may begin within the first few weeks of birth or even six months later, include:

  • depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • excessive crying
  • difficulty bonding with baby
  • withdrawal from family/friends
  • loss of appetite or eating much more than usual,
  • insomnia or sleeping too much
  • overwhelming fatigue
  • reduced interest in activities formerly enjoyed
  • intense irritability and anger
  • fear that you’re not a good mother
  • feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate, or make decisions
  • severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • thoughts of harming self or baby
  • thoughts of death or suicide

“When a baby is inside, a woman takes amazing care of herself. But then, once the baby is born, it becomes all about the baby. As soon as mom starts to struggle and suffer, she no longer has what is required to care for her baby the way she wants to. Not because she isn’t a good mom or doesn’t love her child, but simply because she’s human,” Kripke says. “I find that the women who enjoy motherhood the most and feel the healthiest are the ones who are receiving help.” For more information, visit dona.org.

How to Help a New Mom

  • Coordinate an online care train (mealtrain.com) where loved ones can sign up for time slots to deliver meals, take care of siblings, help clean, etc.
  • Offer to rock baby for a couple of hours to give mom a chance to take a shower or a nap.
  • Deliver easy to grab snacks, such as muffins, granola, nuts, and fruit.
  • Drop off a fully prepared meal with reheating instructions.
  • Babysit older children (or serve as chauffeur).
  • Take care of errands (walk dog, pick up dry cleaning, etc.)
  • Give gift card to favorite take-out restaurant.
Newsletter Powered By : XYZScripts.com