Postpartum Support Matters

How a Postpartum Doula Can Help!

Why does postpartum support matter? Because you and your family matter! Studies have shown that in cultures where the postpartum period is approached as a time for nourishment of the new parent and baby, and there is time and space created to rest and bond, postpartum adjustment outcomes are superior(DONA.org).

What are the facts?

  • Nearly all new parents, 80%, experience a range of emotions after giving birth, most commonly called “the baby blues.”
  • Approximately 20% of new parents experience more intense symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Birthing person’s need for mood medications decrease by 26%, complications resulting in doctor visits decrease 14%, and antibiotic prescriptions decrease 11% when a partner is home during the first 30 days postpartum.
  • The partner “need not be the father,” an adult caregiver (ie. Postpartum Doula) would have the same impact. “there are some days that it’s just important to have two people”
  • Breast/chest feeding is 37 times more likely to continue when encouraged by their partner.

Help and support is essential! And, help can be hard to ask for. You are not weak for recognizing that you need support. This is hard. Its easy to get caught up in comparisons to other families or you’re your own expectations. Everyone’s journey through it is going to look/feel different. You deserve to be supported through yours.

How can a Postpartum Doula help?

By mothering the mother, new parent(s) are given the opportunity to rest and restore after birth. Providing nourishment and the space to enjoy this sacred time will help give you the strength needed to heal.

The needs of the postpartum period are many. Postpartum Doulas can provide emotional and practical support, and evidenced based resources, information, and community referrals to new and expanding families.

Between the heightened emotions, sleep deprivation, changing hormones, and a healing body, etc. you may think this feeling is just part of the “normal” adjustment. It can also be hard to recognize whether you are experiencing “baby blues” or if you are experiencing something that may require talking to your care provider.  Medication and/or therapy may be the right plan for you. Therapists who specialize in perinatal mood disorders can help develop a treatment plan. There is hope. There is help.

We are not meant to do this alone. The saying “It takes a village” doesn’t just apply to raising a baby, it applies to raising a “Mother” too. If you need more help, you are not broken, you are not wrong. You are the perfect person to parent your child.

I have listed national and local resources below to connect with qualified care providers and support organizations. If you would like to talk more about planning for your postpartum support in Santa Barbara or Ventura County, please fill out my contact form.

Stephanie Drake, Ph.D

Immediate Need

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Website

1-800-273-8255

www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

  • National Crisis Text Line

Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA

Postpartum Support

  • Postpartum Support International

Call the PSI HelpLine at 1-800-944-4773(4PPD)

Send a text message to our Helpline: 503-894-9453 (English)

Mandar texto en español al 971-420-0294

Local Postpartum Provider Resources (Santa Barbara County)

  • Cara Behan, MFT

https://therapyinsantabarbara.com/women-newmothers

  • Angela R. Wurtzel, MFT

https://www.angelawurtzelmft.com/prenatal-and-postnatal

  • Victoria Gonzalez, Ph.D

805-902-0092

Childbirth Education

Many first-time labors can last as long as 48 hours! And some are short and very intense. Both will require work.  Choosing a class that can help prepare you and your partner for the many stages of labor ahead can have a positive impact on your birthing experience. Even if you plan on using pain medication, you will have to work through many contractions before that will be administered. 

Childbirth education was a kind of rite of passage for many families, for a time. The Childbirth Education movement in the US grew out of the desire to change the birthing experience in the US. Birth had evolved into a medicalized event throughout the 1900’s and women were routinely put in a state of semi-consciousness to give birth. They were usually alone and had very little memory of the experience. 

As the movement grew, childbirth helped the birthing person retake control over their body and their experience. However, what peaked in at nearly 70% of parents attending a class in 2000, fell to 56% just five years later (ncbirthcenter.org). Now only 10% of new mothers report a childbirth education class being their best source of information. Yet, as participation declines, the benefits still exist. Taking a class or classes from a trained instructor has been shown to lower cesarean birth rates up to 25 percent, (Journal of Perinatal Education, 2006). 

Why?

Why does CBE lower cesarean rates and increase reported birth satisfaction? Because you are part of the process; It is your birth; It is your body! Your body knows how to do birth this baby and you have everything you need inside of you do to so. However, knowing what will happen to your body during this process allows you to be able to better make decisions along the way. 

Additionally:

  • There are coping skills and techniques that you and your partner can learn together. 
  • You will have the opportunity to see the anatomy of your changing body.
  • You will learn about how your body and baby work together through contractions. 

As labor and pushing progress, you have options. Knowing what these options are and the benefits, risks, and alternatives to them, can empower you in the moment. There are also terms and procedures that are routinely performed during birth and postpartum. Being aware of these procedures can help things feel less confusing and make you an active participant. 

How I can bring CBE to you. 

Determining whether a class is right for you and your partner can feel like an overwhelming task. It may also feel unnecessary to you. If you are expecting your first child and are receiving routine care from a midwife or OB, they will most likely suggest some form of childbirth education to help prepare you. If you are birthing at a hospital or birth center, they may offer classes taught by their care providers.  There are also community-based classes or private classes taught by trained Childbirth Educators, like me. 

Not everyone is comfortable in a classroom setting. Additionally, being 8 months pregnant and having to sit in a chair for hours on end is not an ideal way to learn. However, attending a shorter class week over week has become increasingly difficult. The ability to take a class in the privacy of your own home, free to move about and learn at your pace, and not compromise quality could be the right option for you. 

As a trained ICEA childbirth educator I can create custom childbirth education classes for you and your partner.  Using my knowledge, training, and research of child development, content can also include newborn behavior and caregiving basics upon request. I believe strongly in providing evidenced based information and exploring the benefits, risks, and alternatives. My role as an educator, as well as a Doula, is to inform and empower you and your partner during this process. 

If you are interested in learning more about how we can working together to prepare for your birth please feel free to look at the services offered and use the contact form for any questions are to schedule a free consultation. 

-Stephanie Drake, Ph.D

Why Hire a Birth Doula?

The word Doula conjures up many images and thoughts in peoples’ minds. Just as birth takes many forms, so do the women who inhabit Doula work.

A Doula is someone who educates, empowers, and supports the birthing person and partner continuously through labor and delivery. A Doula is trained and experienced in providing emotional support, physical comfort measures, and non-clinical advice. A first-time labor can last anywhere from a few short, intense hours to as many as 48! Having a Doula to support you and your partner during this progress can make a difference.

You may plan on taking childbirth education, watch 100 birth videos, and read every birthing book out there, and still find it difficult to remember and apply these things during the intensity of labor. There are many times that a birthing person will need more than one person to help support their labor. While a Doula cannot replace the intimate knowledge that a partner has about you, they can help your partner support you, and support your partner when they need it too.

Study after study (J Perinat Educ. 2013 Winter; 22(1): 49–58.) show that the presence of a Doula has a positive impact on healthy birth outcomes including:

  • 50% reduction is Cesarean Rate
  • 25% shorter duration of Labor
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in Pitocin use
  • 30% reduction in ‘assisted’ delivery

While a Doula cannot and will not make choices for you during your labor and delivery, she:

  • Reminds you of the choices you made and why you made them when you are anxious or afraid
  • Supports you in your chosen path, whether that is a medicated or unmedicated birth
  • Provides a calm and reassuring presence for you and your partner
  • Supports early breastfeeding and postpartum recovery
  • Provides resources and referrals for things that fall outside of her role

As your Birth Doula I can provide you with a safe space to explore the kind of birth you would like to have. We can practice laboring positions that can help bring your baby down. We can talk about what support would look like for you and your partner during different stages of labor and pushing. We can also talk about the fourth trimester and what to expect during the Postpartum period. Postpartum Doula services are an excellent way to get the rest, recovery, and feeding support needed by a new or expanding family.

Whether you plan to give birth in a hospital, birth center, or your home, a Doula will be there on your birth journey. She can be an educator, a guide, a calm voice, or a gentle touch. Whether this is your first baby or your third, a Doula can support you. -Stephanie Drake, PhD