We will be honoring local Maternal Mental Health Heroes during Maternal Mental Health Week!
We are asking our amazing community of moms to nominate the professional that helped you through maternal mental health issues. This can be the doula that screened and encouraged you to seek treatment, the OB that didn’t dismiss you, but offered you effective treatment, the midwife that prepared you in advance so you knew it was time to seek help, or the therapist or counselor that you received treatment from.
*Nominations will be kept anonymous after submission unless the nominator requests to be mentioned.
Something Rebecca and I have in common is that we have both have a background as a labor doula (her much more so than I). So we have witnessed the amazing and beautiful revolution focusing on empowering birth as it continues to take the country by storm. Since we started having children, labor doulas have become more popular. The suggestion of hiring one has increased in mainstream bump and parenting magazines. And for good reason! Labor doulas are incredible additions to the birth team.
We aren't trying to steal the light from the labor doulas nor negate the importance of an empowered birth, we simply want to extend that focus to the perinatal period, of which childbirth encompasses a day or two.
If you are pregnant now, who is on your postpartum team? Have you created a plan? Have you been stressing about preparing for your baby's arrival? Did you know an antenatal doula could help with that?
If you are not currently pregnant, think back, if you aren't fully into the amnesia stage, you may remember more than a few times of self doubt, tears, or frustration; wishing someone who understood was there to help you.
Enter the postpartum doula.
Realizing how powerful a mother is when she is properly supported during her postpartum period, Rebecca and I started talking about postpartum doulas. We developed a dream of placing postpartum doulas that understand the early signs and symptoms of perinatal distress into the homes of every new mother. You know how this goes, Rebecca and I decided once again, that we might as well start somewhere.
On July 17th, The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. launched our social enterprise, Tampa Bay Perinatal Professionals. This enterprise is a perinatal doula agency that truly knows motherhood is not always sunshine and rainbows; doula agency ready for any mother, regardless the weather.
We hope you are as excited as we are for this journey!
Holding the umbrella,
April is Cesarean Awareness Month. Cesarean moms have different battles during their perinatal period. It is common for moms of babies birthed through surgery to have increased baby blues as they learn to cope with their birth story. Cesarean birth also increases risks for more extensive forms of perinatal mood or anxiety disorders.
Full disclosure, I personally, have not had a cesarean, but as a birth doula, I know the way the air feels tight when the decision is about to be made to move from the labor suite to surgery. I also have seen the strength, determination, and love these moms have, and it's no different than any other mom birthing their baby.
I find it fitting that Cesarean Awareness Month is followed by Perinatal Mental Health Week. Having any unplanned surgery can bring havoc to your emotional state and mental health, let alone one that is responsible for safely bringing your child into the world.
It is common for moms that delivery via cesarean to have mixed emotions. If you are a cesarean mom suffering with feelings you can't quite explain, or a guilt you don't deserve, I highly recommend visiting an ICAN meeting. As with most things, discussing your feelings with others that have been there too can be healing.
It is important to be aware of how our births affect our sense of self. It is a moment in our lives that will change us forever.
It is so important to remember that birth, like everything is not a right vs wrong dichotomy. There is no hard, fast rule.
We also need to know how our language can affect other moms. We have to drop the judgmental language or tone at the door, and be supportive of each mom's story, especially because life doesn't come with a rewrite option.
I am going to link back to Rebecca's early post about Birth Shame because I feel it is applicable here again.
I hope that we can all have more compassion for those around us and their stories. Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the difference.
To all the moms that brought their baby earth side via surgery; I know you are amazing.
Note: to support your local ICAN chapter and enjoy a good night out (SELF CARE!) check out MOMPROM!
We've talked lately about our love for doulas, today we wanted to let you know about a special kind of doula.
In short: they are awesome!
In the USA, families tend to spend more time preparing for the birth and collecting baby items, that often our fourth trimester (as I like to refer to the postpartum period) gets forgotten. Looking back, did anyone talk to you about a postpartum plan? I'm not just talking about stocking the freezer and having plenty of diapers, but a real plan. Who's going to feed you, help with chores, and walk the dog? Do you have someone to get your older kids to and from school? You may be thinking we'll my partner can do x,y, and z, but who's going to be there for your partner? Who is going to give you an objective ear when you need to voice your concerns and feelings?
Taking care of your new baby is around the clock job, so is taking care of the new mother. One of our major concerns is the mental health of mothers, after all at no other time will a mother's mental health affect her child more than in the first year of life.
Enter one of the best and most valuable professionals you can hire. Your postpartum doula is an asset like no other.
In case you are not familiar, allow me to explain just what a postpartum doula does. I postpartum doula can help with baby care, ensure you get a shower, do light household chores, ensure you get some much needed sleep, and offer gentle encouragement in your early days as a new mother. Not only does having a trusted professional in the home make the adjustment smoother, it can really help with postpartum distress. Well trained professional doulas are knowledgeable about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. They can see signs that you or your partner may not notice. They can be a trusted confidant when you have concerns about your mental health and can help you seek treatment when appropriate.
Some offer additional services that may interest you like belly binding or placenta arts. Even more helpful, many of the postpartum doulas in the Tampa Bay area are also well versed in breastfeeding support with a great number being Certified Lactation Counselors. Talk about the best new family support money can buy. Maybe you just had a baby and are realizing you need extra help. Perhaps you are experiencing a postpartum mood disorder and are beginning treatment. Go ahead and consult with a postpartum doula, sometimes they take clients who've already given birth. Having someone else who can remain objective while helping you take care of yourself may actually improve treatment outcomes and shorten the length of time it takes to recover.
Since we're celebrating World Doula Week, we thought it would be fun to highlight a couple of our highly recommended professionals working in the community.
Our friend and fellow seventh mom, Gaetane Joseph-Rhodd, owner of Seeds of Mommy Soul Birth Services is a postpartum doula and CLC working with Tampa families to improve the care for new moms. Here's a few words from Gaetane;
"After the birth of my son in 2008, I began to research other birthing options for women. His birth ended in an unnecessary cesarean and left me mourning the birth I deserved. The home birth of my daughter triggered a drive to provide other mothers with the support they need to have their desired birth. In 2015, I decided to focus my business on postpartum care. When a family finds out they are expecting, a lot of effort and attention is placed on their birth. Researching the best doctors, hire the best birth team, and finalizing your birth plan. The emphasis for postpartum support is not placed on the list of important aspects of pregnancy which can cause a difficult start to a family's parenting journey.
Postpartum care in this society isn't as sacred as it is in other cultures. For example, in Haitian culture a mother who has had a baby should remain in bed with baby. Her meals are in bed, she feeds her baby in bed, and is tucked in by the elder women in her family. Belly binding after her herbal baths are a traditional custom that helps with her postpartum progression. These customary traditions may not be for everyone but it's important to know that postpartum care is important for a woman's overall health. After the birth of your child, healing physically is not the only aspect of postpartum support. Knowing that your emotional and psychological health is also at its healthiest is one of the most important factors of postpartum care."
We wholeheartedly agree. Mom is taking care of baby, someone has got to take care of her. Which brings us to our pal Shary Lopez, founder of Mothercraft Postpartum Services.
Shary, is another great asset to any new mothers team. With lots breastfeeding experience and holistic postpartum care training, Shary brings a sense of love and honor to new mothers. A lost art in our culture today, Shary values the importance of the postpartum period and seeks to help families "...I noticed an extreme lack of community support for postpartum mothers. I am happy to mother new moms on their personal journeys in the fourth trimester."
Both of these amazing women are also DONA trained and have taken additional training in postpartum care and services. Not to mention they are both moms themselves and supporter of the seventh mom's mission to strengthen families struggling with perinatal distress disorders through community education, collaboration with medical professionals, and establishing a network of peer-to-peer support.
When you are interviewing perinatal professionals, feel free to ask them about their knowledge of maternal mental health. Ask about their training and experience, ask about their professional memberships and affiliations, even ask about postpartum books and blogs they might recommend. After all you wrote out the perfect birth plan, made those pretty affirmation cards, now it is time to write your postpartum plan too. If you're not certain about your postpartum care plan feel free to contact us, we'll be glad to help you prepare. We know many great professionals and are glad to connect you.
With Doula love and rainy day hugs,
Rebecca & Elizabeth
We at The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. are especially fond of Doulas. You can probably tell, after all a few of our board members and several volunteers are professional Doulas. Since March 22, kicks off World Doula Week, I thought I’d share something I wrote a while back. I wrote this early in career as a birth-worker. Over time I tweaked it here and there based on my evolving experience both as a labor doula and as a mom who was fortunate to have doula support during my own children’s births.
The Cochrane Review (a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, care givers and people interested in health; recognized as representing an international gold standard for high quality, trusted information.) has offered this “Continuous support during labor has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labor and birth.”
I suspect, for many mothers, the experience we have in childbirth greatly affects our postpartum experience. For many women, a traumatic birth can increase the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety even lead to postpartum PTSD. With that in mind, we’re grateful for all the Doulas out there loving on mothers so they can prepare to love on their babies.
Ready to “Doula” you through the storm,
So God Made a Doula
One day, God looked down on one of His creations becoming a mother and said “She could use a special helper”, so God made a Doula.
God said, “She needs someone who feels the calling, from deep within, to sacrifice, to serve, to guide and to comfort. Someone who can navigate when needed and let go when its time, whose ability to lead is balanced with her willingness to follow, whose heart is as warm as her ability to nurture is skilled. She needs someone whose impact will last for generations to be born.” So God made a Doula.
God said, "She needs somebody willing to get up and work at fielding calls and answering inquiries while still caring for her own children, nursing, training, educating and influencing. Someone who can buckle four kids into the car with a birth pool and all the needed supplies, run two other errands, deliver the pool and be home in time for dinner and baths before heading out again to teach a childbirth class and stay late to answer questions from mothers to be.” So God made a Doula.
God said “She needs someone who will pick up snacks and poise pads, walk through hospital tours, study the latest evidence based care, teach about how to make a birth plan; only to support the mother when she changes it all mid journey and help coach a new Dad in a sport he’s never played. I need someone to teach a mother to breathe through the pains, make sure she has everything she didn’t think she’d need, and encourage her to speak up for herself and her decisons. All with a demeanor that is calm, personable, and professional.” So God made a Doula
“I need someone to ride that roller coaster of anxiety, hope, fear, and worry as she sees the mother’s worries and doubts increase while baby’s heart tones decrease all with the same peaceful, confident exterior that she’s held up all through the night. Someone to cheer with mom as things turn bright and be a light for her when they are grey and a smiling face of reassurance when the ride twist back again.” So God made a Doula.
God said, “I need someone who is willing to jump out of bed, in the middle of the night and drive across town with a moment’s notice, to head to a birth, not knowing how long it will be or when she’ll return home to her own bed and her own family and do this for someone she’s never met because she’s backing up a Sister Doula. Someone whose family knows the true meaning of the word vocation more so than words like vacation yet they are willing to share because they know their mother is called to serve and with pride and joy they hold space for her as she mothers the mother. So God made a Doula.
“Somebody who knows that a birthing woman needs to feel free to be vulnerable and strong all at once. To support her decision through every transition, to offer every bit of physical and mental relief they can and still not judge when mom chooses pain medicine (or doesn’t). Someone willing to climb on the bed to Rebozo sift mom and grab the last peanut ball available to help mom rest as she reaches that last centimeter, meanwhile pumping for her own baby at home and gulping down water and a cookie because she knows she’s going to be needed again soon. So God made a Doula.
God said, "I need somebody strong enough to support a new mother as she squats low to the earth breathing down a new life, yet gentle enough to pull her hair up and wipe her face with a cold cloth, who will stay after the babe’s arrival to ensure a good first latch. Someone who’ll make sure the mother eats and drinks before acknowledging her own growling belly. Somebody who'd knit a new family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing and caring, holding space in that golden hour before heading home to her own family.” So God made a Doula
Author’s note – I use the word need for poetic emphasis. The truth is no one needs a doula, in fact, as a doula, I believe if my client feels she absolutely needs me, as in she can’t birth her baby without me, then I’ve failed to do my job of educating and empowering her.
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the