To celebrate #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth I have partnered with a few people who I think have a great story. This week we are celebrating mothers. Mothers are super important and being a caregiver to them is a very rewarding job. This week Plant Based Wellness Consultant, Birth and Postpartum Doula, and Freelance Writer, India Ohree, gives us a look into her life as not only a Doula but also as a mother of 3. Check out her website http://indiaohree.com/ and Instagram account to see what she has to offer.
I am a Birth + Postpartum Doula, serving expectant parents by providing educational, emotional, and physical support. I help to create a space where people feel safe and are met with love, understanding, and gentle guidance. I meet parents where they are at emotionally, mentally, and energetically to ultimately achieve a positive labor/birth and postpartum experience. It is my responsibility to listen to and validate my clients.
As a Birth Doula, I meet with my clients a few times throughout their pregnancy. We work together to create their birth plan so we can know what they want their laboring and birthing experience to be like, including what medical procedures they may or may not want. During the prenatal visits, I offer local resources and referrals to my clients that I feel will add to them having a positive and joyful prenatal and postpartum experience. During labor, Doulas sometimes have to guide clients through emotional blockages that may surface. It is our duty as birth workers to maintain a peaceful environment. Touch is an essential part of practicing as a Doula. We provide massage, as well as suggest positions to help ease discomfort and help naturally progress labor. I am with my clients from the start of active labor until 1-2 hours after their child(ren) enters the world.
After my client delivers, they enter into the postpartum period. Once they transition home, I visit them at their discretion to assist with light household duties, provide loving care for baby, and give the new parents a moment to rest. Nutrition is very important during this time as the body is healing and recovering from childbirth. As someone who is plant based and provides consulting services to those seeking to incorporate healthier dishes into their busy routine, I bring this knowledge with me into my doula practice. I assist my clients with meal preparation and ensure that they're eating foods that will provide nourishment and aid the production of breast milk, if they choose to breastfeed. This is a critical time to ensure that the new parents are receiving the care that they need.
Many new parents express that the postpartum period can sometimes be an emotional roller coaster, filled with ups and downs. Many emotions are experienced; joy, fear, sadness, anxiety, even anger and doubt. These feelings are completely normal and you shouldn't feel ashamed about them. Beyond these emotions, some new parents also experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a form of severe depression after delivery that interferes with daily functioning. Some symptoms of postpartum depression include extreme sadness, emptiness, hopelessness,feeling irritated or angry often, being uninterested in your baby, feeling that life isn't worth living, and/or having thoughts of harming yourself/your baby.
Postpartum depression is more common than one may think. As doulas are not medical professionals, I first recommend referring the client to their doctor to be screened and receive the professional care that they need. Additionally, there are a few tips I suggest to help the new parents find more peace throughout their day:
- Taking short walks in nature to get fresh air and sun
- Coordinating with their partner and/or doula to ensure that they can receive the adequate rest needed to care for themselves and baby
- Consume whole foods
- Breastfeeding, if possible, may reduce the risk of developing PPD
- Schedule time for loved ones to come over and visit
As a mother of 3, I can completely relate to a lot of the things my clients go through because I've already had a lot of the experiences myself. I am able to speak from personal life experience when I guide new parents through this journey. Doing birth work is very sacred and it truly is an honor to be present during these very special moments in parents' lives. The work is also very demanding, and the clients that we serve deserve a high level of care. We must give our all and our very best to the families we serve.
Sometimes life can become overwhelming in general. While being a mother and serving parents, it can bring about an added level of occasional stress. You have to be completely selfless in this line of work. When I receive a call from one of my clients informing me that they may be in labor, I have to immediately drop everything that I'm doing in that moment to be present and give them my love and care. I also need to very quickly secure child care for my children for the many hours that I'll be away. As a birth worker, you have to cultivate your village and ensure that you have a strong support system to help you stay centered and able to serve others.
It's equally important to focus on yourself with that same level of energy so that you can be your best self and feel healthy, lively, and at peace. I deal with anxiety at times, and I have to ensure that I am taking care of my mental health. I've tried therapy in the recent past, and I know that it's great for healing and working through inner issues; it just simply isn't affordable for me at this time. However, taking the time of day to focus on self care is incredibly therapeutic for me. I have to quiet my mind by practicing meditation, playing soothing sounds, burning incense, writing in my journal, and even drinking my favorite herbal tea helps tremendously. I do my very best to focus on the things that bring me joy, along with practicing my spiritual work. And sometimes, I honestly just need peace and quiet. In those moments, having a babysitter for even a few hours can help me recharge. While I have come to the realization that the purpose of my life is to serve and do the work that I'm passionate about, I've equally come to understand that none of it is possible unless I first honor myself.