A Doula's Role

As a birth worker, I was trained as a birth and postpartum Doula, birth educator, placenta Encapsulator and midwife assistant. However, very little time or training was spent on recognizing and helping treat postpartum mood disorders. The subjects were breached but never to the extent needed to be able to help our postpartum clients like we need to. Having served the the birth community over the years I have seen the need to be able to recognize and help families with postpartum mood disorders. Finding PPD Journey and training with PSI has begun my quest to be better equipped as a birth worker. I’m finding the knowledge and resources to be able to help these families find their healing.

I would dare to say, 1 in 7 women suffering from PPMD is actually a conservative number. Sometimes the embarrassment, shame, fear or even not understanding may cause the numbers to be higher than reported. That is why breaking the silence is so important. Women and men need to know they are not alone and there is hope and healing.

When a family brings home their new baby, they expect to be content and joyful. However, this is not always what they are feeling and they may not understand. I find it so important that we talk about the postpartum period during the pregnancy. Moms need to know what is happening with their bodies, hormones and emotions during the postpartum period. They need to be informed of what the baby blues are and what PPMD looks like. They need to understand it can happen to anyone, what to look for and how they can get help. It’s also important I give them written materials on PPMD so they can share the information with family members. Several weeks after the birth, I always return to the home to see how everyone is adjusting. I want to make sure mom is getting the necessary rest, eating well, interacting with others and nursing has been established. We often unpack the birth and answer questions she may have.

During this visit I do watch and listen for any signs of PPMD. I hope to see there is a bond and mother is participating in the baby’s care. I watch to see her interactions during nursing the baby. I ask mom how she is adjusting and allow her to open up in a safe place.

Sometimes I have found postpartum mood disorders to be manifested in OCD. Mom will be obsessed with baby’s breathing and be unable to rest herself. She may have become obsessed with pumping and spend all her time and energy collecting milk. She may be obsessed with thoughts of harm coming to her baby or that she may somehow hurt the baby.

PPMD can also show up in extreme anxiety . I have found moms often paralyzed with fear and anxiety and even unable to get out of bed due to fear. Postpartum depression can also make a mom feel life is useless and it sucks all of her interest and joy of life. She tells me she doesn’t feel like herself and would rather just go to sleep and not wake up.

It breaks my heart to see moms, dads and families suffer. I want to help them understand they aren’t alone, it’s not their fault and there is help. This disorder is not a weakness, lack of faith or something they caused. It is simply a illness due to imperfect bodies. There can be healing and it comes in many ways.

If I’m serving a client that does show signs of PPMD I try to make them aware of the helps available. The list may look something like this:
-explain the importance of rest, diet, exercise, interactions and accepting help
-suggest they talk with the OB
-provide homeopathic methods of relief
-provide contact info of homeopathic doctor in area
-contact info for counseling
– contact info for psychiatric doctor who can prescribe medication
-list of support groups
-have them connect to PPD Journey and read other’s stories of healing

It’s important we educate both parents on the illness so the affected parent can have that important support person to talk with and help them walk the journey to healing. Most importantly God has promised to never leave not forsake us. He is holding us in His hands even when we can’t feel Him. He can provide our freedom. As a birth worker, I pray he gives me the knowledge and grace to serve those hurting and help families find healing. Thank you PPD Journey for breaking the silence and letting this families know they are supported!

Written by Cammie Warren, Birth & Postpartum Doula

Photo by Ignacio Campo on Unsplash

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