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Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Chelsea Gonzales

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Postpartum depression is a serious issue for a surprisingly large number of women. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to catch the milder cases of PPD, and this—along with a few other factors—means a good many women aren’t given the help they deserve.

Why is postpartum depression so difficult to recognize? Well, this could be due to a couple of things.

First, a small amount of anxiety, stress, and even a short-lived, mild case of the baby blues can be normal. After all, your hormones are going through some pretty significant changes, and coupled with the enormous life changes being made, this can be overwhelming. Separating the usual overwhelmed feelings from true PPD can be difficult.

Another issue is that many new mothers will put on a happy face for family and friends. They may feel guilty or embarrassed about feeling down-in-the-dumps when they’ve just experienced the miracle of birth. Additionally, many mothers don’t want loved ones to worry about them.

Despite this, it’s important that we worry, and even more important that we learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression. Nobody deserves to suffer through the postpartum months, and by taking steps to help the new mamas close to you (or yourself), you will help ensure the people in your life don’t either.

What to Look For

Wondering what you should be watching for? Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms:

Persistent Negative Feelings

Be sure to talk regularly with those who have just given birth. Ask how they’re feeling and validate their feelings. Never brush off a new mama’s feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness. If a woman in your life has just given birth and seems to have persistent feelings of sadness, panic, or hopelessness, she could be suffering from postpartum depression.

Lack of Desire to Care for Baby (or Herself)

Many depressed women have no desire to care for their newborns. Often, this will mean dad is left doing most of the work. Unfortunately, a mother who lacks the desire to care for her baby could be neglectful. Additionally, those with this problem often have no desire to care for themselves either, leading to a whole host of other problems.

Not Sleeping or Eating

An overly anxious or depressed mama may have trouble sleeping for any length of time, something that will quickly lead to more negative feelings. She may also have trouble eating anything at all. This is clearly an issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later, especially if the mother is nursing.

Constant Fatigue

On the other end of the spectrum, many women who suffer from PPD simply want to sleep all the time. This constant fatigue will be apparent if your new-mama loved one is falling asleep on the couch or spending a large amount of time in bed.

What to Do

Of course, simply recognizing postpartum depression isn’t enough. Here’s what you should do if you suspect a person you care for is suffering from PPD:

Tell a Healthcare Professional

First and foremost, you will want to let a healthcare professional know about the problem. If you’re in a position to tell your loved one’s doctor yourself, do so. Otherwise, encourage the new mother to let her doctor know so they can work out a treatment plan.

Encourage Positive Activities

Of course, what your friend does in her day-to-day life is also important. Let her know it’s okay to carve out time for herself and encourage her to use that time to engage in uplifting activities. This might include reading a book, hanging out with friends, or simply journaling her feelings over coffee. Making time to do what makes her happy should help your friend cope a bit better.

In addition to this “me time” to do what she loves, those suffering with PPD should also take extra care to make time to:

  • Be outside
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Bond with baby
  • Provide Support

No person should be expected to battle depression on their own. Being available to support your friend or family member is more important than you might realize. In fact, a constant stream of support could be the most valuable thing she receives during this tough time.

Obviously, you can’t be available all the time. However, by joining forces with other friends and family members, and hiring a well-qualified postpartum doula, you will easily be able to give your loved one the love and care she needs.

Are you looking for a quality postpartum doula in the Oklahoma City area? Please contact me today to learn more about my after-birth support services.

 

Making Your Birth Beautiful

Chelsea Gonzales

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Many people think birth is merely a messy thing that should be gotten through. They consider the process only a means to an end, and consider a healthy mother and baby the only true goals of labor and delivery.

The thing is, birth is so much more than that.

Childbirth is an amazing and beautiful thing. Sure, it’s messy, but those messes are minuscule when compare to the other spectacular things that happen during the process. Every single birth is an incredible miracle, and labor and delivery are so amazing that simply “getting through” them seems ridiculous to me.

In fact, doing what you can to make your birth a positive experience—and focusing on making labor a relaxing and connected time—could have an impact on you as a mama as well as your new baby. Therefore, I highly recommend removing yourself from the typical mindset of “getting through” labor and embracing the process for the miracle that it is. Do what you can to make your labor and delivery the birthing experience you dream of.

How can you create the beautiful birth you deserve? Try these simple yet effective methods.

Find Inspiration and Motivation

Great works of art are best created when a person is inspired, and athletes work best with motivation. Birthing is both an art and an athletic event. Therefore, you will want to have plenty of inspiration and motivation surrounding you during your pregnancy and labor.

Many women find it helpful to find affirmations that speak to them and create affirmation banners or flags to hang around their home and birthing space. Watching beautiful birth videos can also be inspiring during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Meanwhile, going into your birth both 1) informed of your options and 2) knowing what you want is certainly good motivation.

Create a Relaxing Space

Whether they’re delivering in a hospital or at home, creating a relaxing and comfortable space is very important for those mothers who wish to have beautiful birthing experiences.

Candles (real or battery operated) can provide the right kinds of lighting, and essential oils are a great way to fill the space with relaxing scents. As mentioned before, affirmation banners are always a good addition, and some favorite music can help make the space feel more welcoming.

Involve Your Partner

Nothing is more natural and calming than having your partner by your side during the delivery of your little one. Unfortunately, many partners feel uncomfortable and unsure of what to do during labor. For this reason, I highly recommend doing the last two things on this list as well.

Hire a Doula

Many people assume that hiring a doula means the partner of the birthing mama will be left out. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Doulas are actually great at ensuring both partners are involved in the process. They also work as advocates for the new mama and make sure she is comfortable throughout labor and delivery. Obviously, a doula is a must-have for those looking to experience a positive birth.

Learn Comfort Techniques

There are a number of wonderful ways to stay comfortable during labor, and most of them don’t require any drugs at all. From breathing techniques and new positions to water and imagery, learning plenty of different options can be immensely helpful.

Reading books and watching videos are two ways to learn these techniques. However, hands-on classes and workshops—such as this one I’ll be teaching soon—tend to be the best way to learn and get your partner involved. Not only will the class teach comfort measures, it’ll also cover communication during labor, making this an excellent way to help ensure you have a positive birthing experience.

Want to join my upcoming comfort measures class? Interested in hiring a doula? Either way, I’d love to hear from you and help you achieve the birth experience you want and deserve. Contact me today!