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How can I prevent postpartum depression?

For years, cultures around the world have sworn by support for preventing postpartum depression. All over Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and particular parts of Europe new mothers practice a month (or more) of a “laying-in” period. This period allows the woman to rest, recover, and bond with her newborn. Friends and family come and support the new family by providing meals, comradeship, and cleaning.

In the United States, many women miss out on that recovery period. They feel pressed to jump back into caring for their homes, families, and jobs.  A new mom can easily feel overwhelmed trying to balance daily responsibilities, bonding with their baby, and recovering from birth. Without adequate support, normal “baby blues” can quickly morph into postpartum depression.

Imagine coming home from your birth. Your first night home, you realize no one prepared you for what comes after the birth. Baby wakes every two hours, your breasts begin aching as the milk comes in, and it hurts to get in and out of bed. Your partner does their best to help by bringing the baby to you for feeding, but feels just as lost and alone as you do. Over the course of the week the dishes pile up, the laundry pile has grown, you’re running on coffee alone, and everything makes you cry. You wonder if you might have postpartum depression. This is not what you imagined when you thought about motherhood.

Now let’s imagine a different scenario. You arrive home and call your postpartum doula as you are feeling nervous about your first night. She arrives shortly thereafter and asks about your birth. You talk for a little while, then she offers to hold the baby while you get a shower. You enjoy a hot shower and come out to dinner on the table. After dinner, you feed the baby and hand him to your doula so she can settle him down for the night. You retire to bed. Throughout the night, she gets up when the baby does, changes his diaper, and brings him to you for feedings. In the morning, you wake to the smell of breakfast cooking. You feel refreshed and ready to take on your day. With her support, by the end of the week, you feel excited about motherhood and the new relationship you are developing with your baby.

Hiring a postpartum doula provides the support a new mom needs to adequately recover from birth, bond with her baby, and ease back into day-to-day life. A postpartum doula offers educational, physical, and judgment-free support as the woman and her partner navigate the choices and challenges of parenthood. She acts as a key component for helping prevent postpartum depression.

Just like having a great birth team helps birth go more smoothly, having a great support system helps the transition through the postpartum period. Family, friends, your partner, and your postpartum doula are your postpartum support team. Your key to postpartum depression prevention.

About the Author

Christine Santos

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Owner of Sun State Doulas, Christine is passionate about pregnancy, birth, and parenting issues that affect mainstream families. She is mother to 3 girls and is an active member of the roller derby community. Her favorite quote is, “Not my body, not my baby, not my birth, not my choice.”



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