New moms need sensitive, respectful care providers.
Yes, that's you.
OBs, midwives, surgeons, doulas, lactation consultants, therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors...you make such an impact on new mothers and their wellness.
New moms are anxious. The perinatal experience is vulnerable; women are thrust into increased dependence on others. New moms are reliant on your wisdom and kindness - and sometimes you as a provider have the power to steer things in a life-changing direction. For better or for worse.
Care providers can metabolize fear and create an atmosphere of confidence - or not. Care providers can use their wisdom and power to strengthen and empower new moms - or not. What an honor it is to be in a position to so powerfully influence the wellness of a woman, her family and her baby. And what a huge responsibility we all have to usher her along with care.
Women who feel seen, heard and responded to - even during unexpected crises, develop fewer trauma-related symptoms. Care providers are critical in vulnerable moments. Choose your words thoughtfully and lead with warmth and curiosity.
What helps most?
Show genuine interest in her experience
Demonstrate absolute respect for her wishes
Be responsive to her needs
Offer encouragement and kindness
Do your own work - bring your wisdom and knowledge
The birthing or postpartum woman's sense of self is being reconfigured right before your eyes. This woman is face to face with her limits and expectations; she is existing in the very marrow of her bones, referencing her earliest survival and safety templates. Birth (and being sleep deprived postpartum) can elicit feelings of helplessness and overwhelm and sometimes the alarm of emotional and/or physical threat. Many new moms have pre-existing trauma that, unbeknownst to you is reemerging in the present, as her system re-encounters intense stressors or perceived threat or helplessness. If you are able to consider this possibility, you are in a position to offer her a healing experience by creating an environment that empowers, respects and includes her.
A hallmark of trauma is isolation. Don't leave this new mom alone in her experience. Bring your curiosity, calm and compassion.
Talk to this new mom and hold space for her responses. What does it mean to hold space?
Openness. No judgment. Interest. Presence.
As care providers, we are here to fix things. It's important that someone has their eye on fixing things, and what you do as a fixer is hugely useful. But while you're fixing, also hold space. Remember she is a human being with a history and a future. And you have shown up at a critical moment in her growth. Your kindness and care change the world, one mama at a time. Thank you for what you do.
Family Tree Wellness offers Perinatal Mental Health training for providers as well as one-on-one support for providers who may need a space to process their own grief, trauma and experience.