Some women — for example, those with a previous history of depression or anxiety — are prone to postpartum mood disorders. Other risk factors include a tumultuous puberty, tendency toward intense PMS, a traumatic birth experience and lack of support.
While support from either family members or a professional postpartum doula does not guarantee immunity from postpartum anxiety and/or depression, studies show that assistance before, during and after birth greatly reduces the risk.
A doula in particular brings experienced, mother-focused assistance…free of judgment or agenda. Unlike a well-meaning relative, the doula does not have an opinion on how you feed your baby or where he sleeps.
A postpartum doula also supports the whole health and mental wellness of the mother by:
- Making sure she gets enough sleep.
- Keeping her hydrated and well fed with nutritious foods.
- Talking through the emotions of childbirth and new parenthood.
- Taking care of household responsibilities so that the mother does not feel overwhelmed.
- Answering questions, minimizing worry and panic.
- Offering time to reconnect as a couple.
- Knowing when to call the doctor.
- Providing valuable resources.
At the very least, a postpartum doula recognizes the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and can help guide early intervention, prevention and recovery.