As a doula: what I do to help postpartum depressed moms
Throughout my relationship with my clients, I am lucky enough to get to know these new mums really quite well. I see them during their pregnancy, preparing for this new, exciting journey they are on, I am by their side during labour and birth and then watch how they develop into wonderful moms and dads.
During our prenatal meetings I learn a lot about the family, sometimes meeting other children, parents, aunts and uncles and I often make really deep friendships.
Moms and dads often talk openly about any struggles they have been through in life such as marriage break ups, infertility, death of a loved one.
How do I educate moms about postpartum depression
I am learning how to spot areas in mom’s lives that I feel could potentially lead to any kind of issues with postpartum depression, often an earlier trauma can trigger issues and the postpartum period is without doubt an incredibly vulnerable times for new mums and dads.
I feel it is very important during my prenatal visits (and also hypnobirthing classes) to broach the subject of postnatal depression as it is something that can actually affect any mom, not just moms with any previous history.
I make sure that all of my clients are aware of the potential symptoms of postpartum depression and that they know they will have my support throughout if indeed they feel they need any help.
The first few weeks after baby arrives are tough! Not only is mom exhausted and maybe sore, her hormones are racing around like rollercoasters.
Feelings of anxiety, sadness, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, anger, self doubt are all very common, in fact most new moms will experience all of these at some points.
Talking about your feelings, getting help and support are the keys, and this is where your doula can really help out.
Many new moms may not even recognise their feelings as postpartum depression, and they may feel it difficult to admit they are feeling this way, please don’t worry, these feelings are normal and if dealt with properly in earlier stages it is absolutely possible to feel like yourself again.
My personal experience with postpartum depression
Postpartum depression doesn’t just affect moms in the early days after baby is born, some moms are diagnosed even years later.
I was actually diagnosed over a year after my third child was born.
I was completely shocked! I had always considered myself to be a happy, optimistic person, someone who would never suffer from depression, but I was lucky, I received treatment and returned back to my usual self.
Knowing what postpartum depression actually feels like has made me very keen to try help all of my new parents and importantly encourage them to seek help knowing they are not being judged.
Helping parents have a good birth experience is incredibly important. I believe that one of the most important things to think about when preparing for labour and birth is that it is how you remember your birth that matters.
How did I help Postpartum depressed moms
A woman who feels that she was prepared, confident, informed and in control is much more likely to feel good about her experience no matter what kind of birth she has had.
I have had many moms who did not achieve the birth they dreamed of but who still feel good about it, knowing that they had “the right birth on the day” for them and their baby.
As a doula, hopefully I can help prepare parents for labour and birth and hopefully empower them.
I have had several doula clients who did suffer with quite severe postpartum depression. The way I can help differed in each case but most important I found was to be always available to listen and talk, sometimes just a friendly chat can work wonders!
New moms can feel isolated, especially when living away from family and friends, they may not be keen to reach out but I encourage you all to do so.
One lovely mom in particular had three young sons and I was her doula for her fourth son! Life was tough for her, miles away from family, a not hugely supportive husband, four young, active children and a history of postpartum depression.
I supported her throughout her pregnancy, often offering practical help like looking after the children for a few hours as she slept. Postnatally I cooked some meals, did some ironing, but mostly just listened.
My advice to all moms
I urge you all to be aware of the signs, to talk to friends, doulas, family and to seek help, this is NOT a failure of any kind!
There are plenty of counsellors and Psychiatrists in the region who specialise in postpartum depression that your birth professionals can put you in touch with.