As kids head back to school, the checklists are sent out – all the supplies they need for the year ahead to thrive in the classroom.
But to truly help our little ones succeed, we need to ensure their caretakers have their own arsenal for success. Thinking a bit bigger than the right lunchbox or pencil case, we’re looking at what tools mothers need to thrive in pregnancy, postpartum, and parenthood.
After giving birth, most moms will see their obstetric provider at their 6-week appointment, if not sooner; who can you see for a mental and emotional follow-up? In part 3 of our series, we’re breaking down the potential members of your care team who can help you feel mentally and emotionally supported.
Research on mental health in prenatal and postpartum women demonstrates clearly that mood disorders are all too common. 1 in 5 women experience depression, anxiety, or further mental health crises on their path to parenthood.
Additionally, research shows many parents struggle without official confirmation that something’s wrong. Without some form of treatment, mood disorders can take months or even years to be resolved. We must meet mothers where they’re at and read the signs as early as possible.
While many OBGYNS and medical care teams provide screenings for depression or anxiety, they often lack the capacity for follow-up in linking patients with mental health professionals. If you already have a talk therapist, they can make a referral or resource options for folks specializing in perinatal mental health.
HER Health Collective is also here to point you in the right direction if you ever need recommendations for finding the right person to talk to. Even beyond diagnosed mood disorders, it’s vital to have someone to talk to through the emotional ups and downs of becoming a parent.
Beyond the ways in which pregnancy, postpartum, and parenthood can impact your mental health, we urge mothers to feel empowered in their understanding of how their lives before pregnancy can impact their later journeys.
Your relationship history with your body, with your family, with romantic partners, with medical settings – it can all bring feelings up again as you grow and change throughout your experience of growing, birthing, and raising a child.
We’ve witnessed a shift by medical providers to acknowledge past traumas and how it can impact the experience of labor and delivery – this is referred to typically as trauma-informed care.
You can facilitate conversations with your OBGYN or other members of your care team to check in on their understanding and fluency in trauma-informed care. It can take many forms, from asking for consent before physical examinations to inquiring about your personal history at appointments.
While doulas may have extensive knowledge of medical care in pregnancy and postpartum thanks to experience, they are never acting as medical personnel. Truly, they’re primarily going to be resources of emotional support, helping you navigate all the different components of your care which can be overwhelming.
We often describe doulas as a professional friend, one who can hold space for you without expectations of reciprocity or a personal history with you.
They’re more accessible often than making appointments with providers – typically just a text or phone call away, depending on the exact parameters of their on-call schedule for you.
Birth doulas are there throughout your entire pregnancy, labor, and the immediate postpartum, and postpartum doulas support you in your own home as you navigate the fourth trimester and new parenthood. At Carolina Birth & Wellness, many of our birth and postpartum doulas do this throughout the duration of many moms’ pregnancies, helping to make referrals or provide continuity of care. While they can never replace therapists or medical providers, they can create a bridge to support that’s more accessible and personal.
It’s just as necessary to look after your mental and emotional wellbeing as it is your physical fitness. You also need a village of folks to lift you up as you take care of yourself.
Check back for the final part of our series, gathering sources of social support for your holistic toolkit!
Maris is a full-spectrum doula and reproductive justice advocate. Experienced in supporting birth, postpartum, loss, and bereavement, she also works as a childbirth educator and placenta encapsulation specialist. With an evidence-based approach, Maris creates spaces for women to make informed decisions that feel intuitive for their bodies and families. She is constantly in awe to share these moments in clients’ lives. Beyond being a full-time doula, Maris also stepped into a new role as co-owner and director of Carolina Birth & Wellness.
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