The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.
Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy
These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.
One note: I expect the information below about supplementing with formula will probably be very controversial for some doulas. Obviously, feel free not to advocate it to your clients, as there are so many other ways of helping! The purpose of this post is just to raise awareness of the PPD issue.
"Baby blues" is not the same as PPD. It is characterized by mood swings and irritability up to 2-3 weeks postpartum and resolves on its own. Signs of PPD may include: Crying Anxiety Apathy towards the baby Changes in appetite Fatigue or difficulty sleeping Anger Feelings of isolation, lack of enjoyment Feeling "not like herself" Mom can also be in denial about the issue These are the ways a friend (doula) can help: Don't assume that everything is OK based on appearance- instead ASK! Just as with suicide thoughts, PPD cannot be "triggered" by a question. (ex: "Having a new baby can be rough; how are you doing?") Just be present with the mom, listen to her Help her set up a support network, such as help with meals and childcare Offer to watch the baby for a bit, to take the burden off (help her find postpartum doula services) Be a source of information and referrals Be honest and open Go over baby's schedule and make sure mom is getting enough sleep (at least 5hrs/night). Fatigue makes everything worse! If baby is breastfeeding exclusively - discuss alternative ways of feeding (ex: pumping some while supplementing with rest with formula; that allows dad/someone else to feed the baby at night and have mom get the allotted sleep time). Educate the husband Helpful language: "I'm here for you," "This is treatable and temporary," "You can do this," "This is common" vs "This is normal" Things that are not helpful: Making mom feel guilty Not offering resources to deal with PPD Closed-ended advice such as "just try to relax" or "exercise more" Mothers' PPD can have negative effects on language/cognitive development of the children. They vocalize less, cry more, have attachment difficulties and lower activity levels. The mothers tend to be more critical of babies. These effects can be long-term, if untreated, with children later exhibiting ADD. Some things you can do if you suspect suicidal tendencies: ASK! Put the question out there. Again, it will not promote the idea. "Do you feel like hurting yourself?" Give out the crisis hotline number If you notice mom is acting "happier" do not assume she is "out of the woods." Do not cut off your support. Recovery takes time.
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