With perinatal mental health problems affecting at least 1 in 5 women, 30,000 women a year experiencing birth trauma, and suicide still the number one cause of death for women in the first year post-birth – awareness and calls for improvement of perinatal mental health support are more important than ever.
A perinatal mental health problem is one that you experience any time from becoming pregnant up to a year after you give birth. This can include anxiety, depression, OCD, postpartum psychosis, and birth trauma.
And if you are currently struggling with your mental health please get in touch and we will support you however we can. We don’t want any women to have to suffer alone.
Maternity care is often hyper-focused on physical health, with little importance placed on holistic care. We believe good maternity care prioritises mental health by recognising that for the vast majority of women birth need not be a medical event and will therefore not require medical support, but is a normal life event which will always require emotional support to go smoothly.
When birth is viewed as inherently dangerous, or as a mechanical process separate from the rest of the body and mind, it becomes overly medicalised, and puts the woman at greater risk of birth trauma and other perinatal mental health conditions.
Appropriate support is vital for preventing and healing from perinatal mental health issues. Doulas can be a consistent part of your support network during pregnancy and after you have your baby.
It is essential that women enter motherhood feeling safe, supported, connected, informed, strong, and confident – for themselves, for their families, and for the communities in which they live.
We recognise that birth trauma and its resulting complications can affect women with no previous mental health problems, and make women with existing mental health problems even more vulnerable. The support of a doula is effective when it comes to maternal mental health outcomes. Here are some of the ways we support women through perinatal mental health challenges:
We meet each woman where she’s at and will always listen with unconditional positive regard. We won’t judge you or your feelings. Sometimes it’s enough to listen, and to say “that sounds really tough, we’re here for you”. Sometimes it’s appropriate to offer Rewind therapy for traumatic birth recovery, or to signpost to other services.
All three of us have experienced mental health challenges so we know how hard the practical, everyday responsibilities can be when your mind is occupied with difficult thoughts. Practical help can be an important aspect of our support. Having someone to help you with household duties and mothering, or with physical support, can create much needed space for you to focus on healing and recovering.
Often our support involves passing on information and signposting to more specialised services. This might look like helping you to access perinatal mental health services, sharing details of support groups, and sharing information related to the mental health issues you are facing.
If you think you might benefit from any of the above please get in touch. We have some funding available for our Holding Space sessions and other services because we don’t want your financial situation to be a barrier to accessing the support you deserve. We would love to hear from you.