it takes a village: shedding the “DIY” mentality to motherhood
a conversation about postpartum care with Jenevieve Russell, MA, LPC, CD & Kate Kripke, LCSW of Boulder, CO
Bringing your new baby into the world means welcoming two new beings into your home: the new, growing spirit of your wee one, and the new, expanding spirit of yourself as a mother to this brand new soul. Welcoming these fresh and expanding energies is an immense and vulnerable shift, and both beings require a unique system of support to thrive within this spectacular transition.
This precious “fourth trimester” has been revered for centuries across cultures as a cherished time in which community comes together to support a new mother alongside her first steps in her new mamahood journey. Perhaps this new journey entails the adventure of first time parenting, or the expansion of your role as mother to multiple children.
Yet in this culture which remains so seeped in romanticized façades of what parenthood should look like, this culture of support has continued to dissolve. In its place resides the demand to wear an illusory identity of perfectionism, one that has hardened into an “I can do it myself” mentality, an attitude which abandons more and more parents into raising their babies in isolation, putting both parents at risk for suffering from postpartum mood and affective disorders (PMADs).
Jenevieve Russell, MA, LPC, CD says, “One of the highest risk factors for PMADs is not being able to ask for help—perfectionism. New parenthood, more than any other time, offers us a great opportunity to open to community and connection, a great opportunity that gets missed with this DIY mentality.”
Cultivating community postpartum may look different for each family, but what is most important is making sure there are relationships present that foster an environment in which the mother feels nourished, rather than depleted and isolated.
Kate Kripke, LCSW adds, “What we know from decades of research is that one of the more important factors in mental health is relationship–community and relationship. Part of the problem can be the mentality of, ‘Oh, I have my partner, I don’t need anyone else,’ which puts too much stress on one person, and it can break partnerships up postpartum. There is just too much pressure on that link.”
Inviting postpartum doula care into your home provides a space of support and care to lean into, and it brings in that possibility for community and connection into the home. A postpartum doula offers the opportunity for someone outside the relationship between you and your partner to bear witness to your new experiences of motherhood with compassion and non judgement.
Kripke adds, “It is really easy to get isolated in new parenthood…it is not normal for our babies to be raised in isolation. Our mothers need to be mothered.”
Mothering the mother means making sure her essential needs are met so mama can care for the baby, and the other energies within the household, including partner and siblings, can be replenished as well.
Too often we pride ourselves on independence, on what we can accomplish by ourselves as measures of success, and we judge the action of reaching out for a helping hand as a failure rather than ensuring a path towards success. Yet implementing a wellness strategy for the family postpartum, just to be able to reach the most basic needs of fresh air, water, food, and rest, can ease this transition into the postpartum season and provide immensely beneficial preventative care.
Kripke says, “It is more common sense that we think it is. Getting connected, eating, being outdoors, learning how to take a deep breath, drinking enough water–generations ago those things were just set into the systems. There were people feeding moms, it was set in the system. We’ve gotten farther and farther away from that system. The preventative piece is making sure you have support around those things. The brain is an organ like anything else, if a brain is depleted, it’s not going to function the way we need it to…If we could get moms understanding the importance of that before they have a baby so they have something set in place, our rates of anxiety and depression would decrease infinitely.”
Although these basic needs are simple, they are crucial for ensuring a new mama gets the care and replenishment she needs to be able to fully care for a new child. Inviting in postpartum doula care as part of your postpartum wellness strategy can be immensely helpful in making sure these transitions happen with more ease and joy.
Russell adds, “Doula care is specialized to what the family needs. A postpartum doula can personalize care, and can bring in more confidence to the mother for caring for her babies. Having someone with eyes and heart on the family, they can really look at the protective measures that are needed and jump in with a wellness plan.”
The personalized care a doula can offer can be instrumental in creating a home environment where each family member can thrive, and a doula knows that these needs will be different for each family, each day.
Russell adds, “Some of the DIY mentality too is, honestly, ‘it’s expensive’ and ‘I’ll just do it myself,’ and we think skipping the care will save us money. But honestly, investing resources up front can save a lot of crisis and expense on the back end.”
Bringing a doula into your home is an investment, but one that offers invaluable support during the postpartum season and the benefits continue for your lifetime. And so the saying goes, invest in postpartum care abundance “for 40 days so that you live vibrantly for another 40 years.”
If you or someone you know is interested in postpartum doula care, Sanctuary Doulas offers several options for investing in our care…
1) Families may pay with their credit card, debit card including Health Saving Account or Flex Spending Account and we provide a super rbill for you to submit.
2) We provide our clients with tips on how to submit a claim to their health insurance for possible coverage.
3) Postpartum doula care gift cards are a great option in lieu of traditional baby shower and sprinkle gifts.
4) The Postpartum Abundance Project provides partial scholarships for postpartum doula care to local families in need.
feature photo: casie zalud photography
Jenevieve Russell, MA, LPC, CD draws on her vast, eclectic experiences and specialized training in supporting families before, during and after birth. She has supported hundreds of families and new moms as a licensed professional counselor at Nurturing Strategies, as a certified birth doula with Doulas of Boulder and co-founder of JOY Collective – a pregnancy, parenting wellness center of 15 leading practitioners to serve families from fertility through early parenthood.in the heart of Boulder, Colorado. Jenevieve’s psychotherapy practice focuses on healing birthing experiences, pre and postnatal support, perinatal mood & anxiety disorders and couples counseling. She facilitates a weekly support group for Parents with Babies. She also mentors newer doulas.
Kate Kripke, LCSW is the founder and director of the Postpartum Wellness Center of Boulder. In addition to her clinical work with women and families around the prevention and treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, Kate is a state coordinator for Postpartum Support International and a member of the maternal mental health advisory committee for the Colorado Department of Public Health. She provides frequent training to physicians, nurses, birth professionals, therapists and educators around the state.