Every Mother’s Mind Matters: Supporting Women in the Fourth Trimester
By Lindsey Taylor, Founder & Owner, Taylor Made Doulas
Each Mind Matters is California’s Mental Health Movement. We are millions of individuals and thousands of organizations working to advance mental health. As part of this movement, I am supporting maternal mental health and working to help all mothers, their families, and doctors to recognize, treat and prevent postpartum depression (PPD).
While pregnancy and childbirth are exciting and beautiful, maternal mental health disorders are the number one complication of pregnancy. Up to 1 in 7 women will experience depression during pregnancy or after birth. That’s 800,000 moms a year. When a woman suffers from depression, her family suffers.
Beyond the typical “baby blues” that some women experience following childbirth, signs of PPD include confusion, loss of appetite, sadness, excessive worry, trouble falling or staying asleep (or sleeping too much), difficulty in focusing, irritation or anger. Women suffering from PPD often report having difficulties bonding with their newborns as a result of these symptoms. Untreated PPD can sometimes become postpartum psychosis, which puts the mother’s and her baby’s lives in jeopardy.
A supportive and encouraging action plan comprised of women’s health professionals and family support can help honor the “fourth trimester” and relinquish a critical time for mothers to bond with their babies:
- Hire a doula: A family can hire a doula before and after the baby is born. Beyond providing childbirth support, a doula provides emotional support, assists a mother with processing from birth (traumatic births or even disappointing births are linked with incidences of PPD), and is a non-judgmental person who can listen and provide unbiased encouragement to a new mother. A postpartum doula can also provide lactation assistance, soothing techniques and additional support to the mother.
- Establish a support network: Offer to make meals and watch the baby so the mother can catch up on sleep (lack of adequate sleep can exacerbate symptoms of PPD), eat, and take breaks.
- See a doctor and a mental health professional: It is critical that a mother experiencing any of the symptoms of PPD sees her doctor and a mental health professional in order to assess mental health and determine the appropriate course of medical and therapeutic treatments.
Together, we can all help take back the “fourth trimester” and provide mothers the support they need to be healthy mentally, physically and emotionally.
Lindsey Taylor, the founder and owner of Taylor Made Doulas, established her agency because of her commitment to providing families in the Sacramento area with the Taylor Made Doula support that “suits” them. Lindsey recognizes that birth is a monumental experience in a woman’s life and that the weeks leading up to it and that follow it, require patience, flexibility and nurturing support.