Dealing with mood issues like depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. while pregnant or postpartum can feel beyond heavy sometimes. If you've had mood struggles or mental illness during pregnancy or postpartum, you get it. You know how dark, overwhelming, and isolating it can feel. It can be physically painful, and is certainly exhausting.
Those of us whose lives have been affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) know the loneliness and fear that come from struggling alone, fearing that we won’t make it through -- feeling alone, embarrassed, and overwhelmed. Coming together with others in our community at a local Climb Out of the Darkness -- coming together, supporting each other -- is part of our healing and recovery. People have been doing just that all summer long across the US and around the world. This Saturday, it's out turn to gather. Together we know that we are not alone, we are not broken, and we are stronger than we think. We are always able to take the next step in recovery. We are coming out of shame and into the light.
The Climb is a celebration of hope. You may be fighting deep in your own trenches or you may have already recovered, or you might be somewhere in the middle. You belong at the Climb, and you deserve to be celebrated.
Click here to watch a video of real moms, dads, and partners, sharing why they Climb Out of the Darkness.
Many of us began our parenting journey feeling broken, small, afraid and embarrassed, and then we came through -- through time, hard work, and recovery – to find healing, new strength, and connection with others. We are stronger and kinder to ourselves, we are inspired to become a beacon for the next person’s recovery. We want you all to know – we are here for you, we see you, we love you.
Corvallis Climb Out of the Darkness
Saturday, July 21 2018 10am-2pm
Walnut Barn at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park
4905 NW Walnut Blvd.
Pre-registration is encouraged but not required.
No donations or fundraising required to attend.
Family friendly-- Bring the kids!
10am: Welcome, Sign In, Tell Your Story Activities, Kid's Activities, Check out Community Resource Table
11am: Together We "Climb" Up Our Mountain
11:30am: Raffle Prize Winners Announced
11:45am-12:30pm Bring Your Own Picnic Lunch
12:30pm-2pm Support Group Celebration - How Far We've Come (open to all)
Stay and play, make connections, have fun!
"Please, no more onesies!" Ten reasons why onesies are the gift we love to give, but hate to receive, and what to do about it.
I know they are so cute and OMG, those sayings! Those graphics! The puns! The bunnies/elephants/Storm Troopers! It's so hard to pass them up in the store, but if you are shopping for a baby shower gift for a friend, please don't buy them a newborn onesie.
1. Lots of babies are born bigger than the newborn size of diapers and clothes anyway. The baby might not even fit in it. Like, not even fresh out of the womb.
2. Your friends have likely already received or bought more newborn onesies than they will ever actually need before their baby grows into the next size, if they fit into newborn sizes at all.
3. Your friends will likely feel obligated to take a photo of their baby in every piece of clothing they've been gifted, and the challenge of doing that before the baby gets too big, poops in it, or spits up all over it only adds to the stress of those early days of parenting. Trust us, we've seen this play out in real life with our clients, and it stresses them out.
4. Onesies are quite an impractical clothing choice during the newborn time. Newborns don't really like having clothing put on over their heads, and lots of parents are scared their little baby's chicken arms and will break as they try to wrangle them through the sleeves (they won't break, but try telling a new parent that).
5. Newborns have trouble regulating their body temperature, and skin-to-skin with a parent is one of the best places for them to be.
6. If they are not being held skin-to-skin, they are likely going to need more clothing than just a onesie, and no parent of a newborn really has the time to add pants to an outfit. Onesie + pants = more complicated diaper changes (when is the last time you tried getting a skinny, wiggly newborn leg into a pant leg?) You don't want your friends to be cursing your name at 3am, do you?
7. Newborns have an umbilical cord and clamp, not a belly button. It's an awkward thing to maneuver clothing around. Parents are already freaked out by this and worried about things rubbing on the stump. While sometimes it is helpful to have clothing on the baby to protect the cord, there are simpler options than a traditional onesie (like a baby kimono shirt, or a zip-up one-piece sleeper). Plus, air is what is needed for the stump to dry and fall off, so the less it is covered, the better.
8. If you find a onesie you just can't pass up, buy it in a bigger size. Trust us, we work with newborns everyday. They are very rarely dressed in a onesie. Onesies are a great choice when the baby starts to be mobile, so a onesie in 3-6 month size or larger is a great shower gift. Parents really appreciate getting larger size clothes for their babies. In reality, most babies (except premature babies) are out of newborn sizes by two weeks or less. Not exactly the gift that keeps on giving.
9. Your friends are going to need WAY more burp cloths and diapers than onesies. Lots of new parents have no idea that burp cloths are going to rule their lives for the next year (at least). If you are a seasoned parent, do them a solid, and give a gift they will use almost every moment of every day for the next few months.
And the #1 reason why not to buy your friend a onesie:
10. You can contribute to them having professional postpartum support by buying them an hour of postpartum doula services instead. Proud Mama Support Services has a stream-lined system for people to set up an online registry for their postpartum doula support. (Check out a sample of our customized registry pages below!) Gifting your loved ones postpartum doula support means you are giving the gifts of simplicity, rest, and peace of mind even when you can't be there to lend a hand. For new parents, what gift could make a greater impact than that?
Have your friend contact us today so we can set up a registry for her and her family!
Proud Mama Support Services hosts a perinatal peer support group every other Saturday in Corvallis. Here are some common questions people have about our group and who it serves.
Who can come to the support group?
Anyone who is pregnant, recently postpartum, or continues to struggle with issues related to pregnancy, infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, birth, the postpartum recovery, or very early parenting is welcome to come.
What if I don't have depression but I'm still having a hard time?
This group is for you! Depression is just one of many possible ways that a pregnant or postpartum person may be struggling with mood or mental health. Anxiety is a very common struggle and we talk about it a lot in our group. We also help support people who are dealing with scary intrusive thoughts, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, traumatic or toxic stress related to the birth or other perinatal experience, and people recovering from postpartum psychosis.
What if I don't have a diagnosis?
It is not necessary to have a diagnosis or to get a referral from your doctor or midwife in order to come to the group. Don't worry about whether you are struggling "enough" to come to the group. We all have bad days. We can all give and get support. This group is for you!
Is there a cost?
There is no cost to participants. We raise the funds to run the group through individual donations and our annual event, Climb Out of the Darkness, a family-friendly event which celebrates the resilience and honors the struggle of those who deal with mental health and mood struggles during pregnancy and postpartum. If you are inspired to help support the work we do through the support group, your generous donation is greatly appreciated.
Do you offer childcare?
At this time, we are not equipped to offer childcare at the meeting space. Pre-mobile babies are welcome to come with you to the group meeting.
Who runs the group?
The group is managed and facilitated by Proud Mama Support Services. We are supported by Restore Physical Therapy, who donates the use of their space, and by other organizations in the community.
What training does the facilitator have?
Our facilitator has attended multiple trainings on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders through Postpartum Support International. She has completed a certificate in perinatal peer social support, and has additional training in Mental Health First Aid, and in supporting parents who have experience infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or other loss. She is also a trained postpartum doula who has worked directly with postpartum women and their families for over a year.
I feel anxious about group support. I'm not sure it would help me.
We get it. Group support is not for everyone. It may or may not be a good fit for you, and that's ok. In our group meetings, there are both introverts and extroverts. There are people who are really struggling daily with anxiety and depression, and there are people who have been gaining skills for coping with and healing mood issues for a longer time, but have struggled deeply in the past. Wherever you are in your experience, you have a place in our group.
Come try out the group and if you don't like it, that's ok. If you want to leave early or only come one time, that is ok and we won't demand an explanation from you.
My kids are older/I'm not really "postpartum" anymore. Can I still come?
Yes! If you've been suffering with mood issues that stem from your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum experience and they have not been addressed or treated, there is not a magic time when they will just go away. It's never too late to get some support around these issues. We have had women come to our group who gave birth ten or twelve years ago and still found our group to be healing and helpful. Please join us. Your perspective and story is valuable and important.
What if I'm in crisis and I need immediate help?
If you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, please call 911 right now.
If you are not in immediate danger but you need to talk to someone right now, please call one of these numbers:
1-800-944-4773 (Postpartum Support International Warmline)
1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
While our support group is not equipped to provide crisis intervention, we do have a crisis protocol and we will respond to an immediate need for further assistance or treatment responsibly.
How many people come to the group?
We usually have between 6-8 people at the 9-11am group and 4-6 people at the 12-2pm group.
Is it therapy?
Peer group support is an evidence-based treatment for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Our group differs from group therapy because we stay within the scope of peer support. Our facilitator is not a licensed therapist or counselor, and we do not offer any sort of diagnosis or medical advice.
Are babies and kids welcome?
Pre-mobile (before they are walking) babies are welcome to come with you. Some people find that they get the most out of the group if their baby stays in the care of someone they trust and they come by themselves. Older children need to be cared for elsewhere as we cannot offer childcare at the support group. If you want to come to the meeting but are finding that childcare is a barrier, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can dads and partners come?
Absolutely! This group is for everyone. Did you know 1 in 10 fathers experience postpartum depression? If you are a partners/dad who is is struggling themselves, or are coming in support of their wives/partners, we welcome you to join us.
I can't make it to your meeting time, but I still want support. What are my options?
Postpartum Support International has several online support group options. Click below for more information.
Another local option for group support is Hope For Mothers, which meets in Albany.
If you are interested in individual therapy, there are a number of therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors in our area who specialize in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Please contact us at email@example.com or 541-714-5859 and we will help get you connected to a mental health provider who takes your insurance, or if you have any further questions about our support group or the other services we offer. Thank you!
Update: Watch our pre-viewing discussion of the movie here.
A raw look at parenting a newborn is coming to theaters on May 4, and it's powerful.
Like motherhood, the film is complicated, contradictory, surprising, and at times will likely leave audiences feeling blindsided.
Whether or not you choose to read the spoilers (and here and here), and whether or not you choose to see the film in theaters, this movie is bringing strong reactions for those of us who have lived experience similar to the characters in the film, and for those of us who work with pregnant and postpartum women.
Part of the reason we are seeing such a strong reaction to this movie, and to the spoilers, is that there are so few representations of real motherhood in popular culture and film. We feel hope that this movie will FINALLY show people how it really is for us. We feel a sense of excitement that maybe this film will finally shed light on an area of our lives that is largely invisible and misunderstood.
Because Tully is one of the only representations on film of some of our common experiences of motherhood (as seen in the trailer) it feels like the true work of motherhood may finally be drawn out of the darkness, and maybe those people in our lives that don't see those acts of daily motherhood will gain a deeper understanding of how hard we are working, and finally say, "I didn't get it, but now I do. I get it now." We want to be able to use Tully as something we can share with others as a window to our own experience, because we so desperately want people to see the realities of the postpartum time and the realities of modern parenthood. When/if we feel like Tully is no longer a story that represents us because of twists in the storyline, it can bring feelings of disappointment, even betrayal.
Part of why there are such strong reactions to Tully is that there has never been a representation of motherhood like this in the media. The fact that a story like this was written by Diablo Cody, a woman who was writing from her own experience, the fact that this movie has high-profile celebrities like Charlize Theron talking about her own experience of postpartum depression, and that it starts a conversation around how often maternal mental health struggles are misdiagnosed, mismanaged, or missed altogether by medical providers and other points of contact-- those are all great things. We are excited that this movie provides an opportunity to bring these important topics to light, in hopes that fewer women like Marlo slip through the cracks. Instead, we hope we can use Marlo's story to bolster the support net around women in the postpartum period.
But, there is also a danger that comes when we characterize or stereotype an entire group of people (postpartum moms) from a single representation of that group in the media. There is a danger that comes from having just a single story.
When there is only one story in popular culture that supposedly represents a group, we risk a mischaracterization and an oversimplification of the complexities with which people who belong to that group live. The single story comes to stand for the whole group's story.
There is also a danger when we ourselves look to a single story or a single character to somehow represent all of us. Just because neither Marlo nor Tully fully represents me as a mother or as a postpartum doula doesn't mean there isn't value in their story being told. Just because I have serious criticisms of Tully's behavior in the film and I know she is definitely a flawed representative of my profession, I am still excited to see a film where a postpartum mom has a support person like Tully.
We must keep in mind that as powerful and groundbreaking as this film may be, it is still simply a piece of media produced by Hollywood for the purposes of making money. We hope it can become more than that, but we can't forget that it is just a single story, based on the experience of one woman who lives with a lot of privilege in our culture. If we are saddened by the fact that Marlo fell through the cracks and this movie shows how alone she is in her struggle with mental health issues in the postpartum period, we must respond to that sadness with the awareness that those living with less privilege are at even greater risk for being unheard, unseen, and untreated.
We all want to be seen. We all deserve to be seen.
Proud Mama Support Services thinks this movie is important, whether or not people choose to see it. The fact that it was produced in the first place and that big name actors were interested in the script and committed to such a raw and heartfelt performance is significant and refreshing.
As we approach the release date of the movie, we are setting up a variety of ways the community can engage with us in the conversations that this film brings to light. We are ready to dig in to those conversations! Please stay tuned here on our blog and on Facebook for more opportunities to connect with us and to hear our perspective as people on the front lines of supporting women and families during this time.
Ever since I became a mother seven years ago, I've had a love-hate relationship with Facebook.
I remember feeling really grateful for Facebook and a smart phone when I was a breastfeeding mom, holding my baby for hours and hours everyday. I liked the ability to be social with adults on Facebook, and only needing one hand to do it. That was great, because one hand was all I had available most of the time. The rest of my body was busy in the acts of motherhood.
But, I also noticed sometimes that the multi-tasking of engaging on social media stacked on top of the daily tasks of parenting an infant and toddler left me feeling stressed. Sometimes it felt like a good escape from the tasks at hand with the little people in my charge, and sometimes it felt like it created more stress and more resentment in me, more comparison of myself to other parents, and a quicker impulse to search for a solution to a parenting issue online from an "expert" rather than trusting my own instincts and parenting skills. I noticed when I engaged with other parents and moms on Facebook, I was harder on myself as a parent, quicker to put shame and guilt on myself for not being some perfect model of parenting (that I now know doesn't exist), and less patient with myself and my children.
Some days I find Facebook really helpful. I feel like it serves me in some way, connecting me to local events or resources, providing a place to discuss a particular topic or issue in a facebook group, providing me with a platform to keep a public diary about my life and to showcase the amazing work we do through Proud Mama Support Services, and giving me a window into the lives of my friends and loved ones. And who doesn't love pictures of babies and cat videos?
But, I don't like how ever-present it's become in my life. I don't like the habits it creates in me, and I know that they don't really serve me well. After I spend some time on Facebook, I don't really feel very good. I find myself sometimes scrolling endlessly, feeling beholden to check my notifications multiple times a day, and getting emotionally invested in hot-button discussions that in the grand scheme of things are really not that important. Even if the topics themselves are important, defending a certain position in a Facebook thread is probably not the most fruitful or effective way of making change.
This year, in my personal and professional life, I'm focused on living BIG--with Boundaries, Integrity, and Generosity (Thanks, Brené Brown!). With that being my focus, I've noticed that Facebook--the way I use it, how much I use it, and how I feel when I use it--doesn't always fit with my goals for my life and how I want to be spending the majority of my time.
I know that I'm not the only one who struggles with this. So, I'm making a public decision and inviting anyone who wants to, to join me in a month-long fast from Facebook. Yes, even as a business owner. If you're intrigued, read on.
Miscarriage: It happens all the time but hardly gets mentioned. Up tp 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage before 20 weeks gestation. The average friend or family member doesn't necessarily respond in a helpful or supportive way. It is often dismissed as a small incident that is easy to move past, especially once there is a successful subsequent pregnancy and the family welcomes a child. And yet, the real pain and suffering of having lost a pregnancy can stick with a family for years.
Many women find it hard to have an honest and vulnerable conversation about miscarriage because the way the heart feels about it sometimes doesn't match up with what the brain thinks about it. How can I have such big, unruly feelings about such a tiny little thing that existed for such a short amount of time? The truth is there is no right or wrong way to feel about it. Grief is not something we can put into a tidy box. That doesn't mean we don't try. If only it were neat, tidy, and contained, with a timeline. But grief is wild, fluid, and ever-changing. It is uncontainable, untranslatable, unpredictable.
We know it's likely that, if they knew, someone would say something well-meaning yet painful, like, "Well, there's always next time," or "You have two beautiful children so you have lots to be grateful for," or "It wasn't meant to be," or "You shouldn't get too attached in the early days, these things happen." Maybe we even say these things to ourselves, even though we would never say them to a friend. So we don't share our pain. We move on. We downplay and dismiss.
Please know that your pain and loss are valid. It's not a little thing. It's a big thing with big hopes and dreams attached to it. We are sorry you lost something precious, and we don't think your feelings about it--whatever they are-- are silly.
Because of the high rates of miscarriage in general, most people having a baby have experienced miscarriage in the past, or will experience it in the future. As postpartum doulas, we see many parents who are joyful about their new baby, yet still grieving a pregnancy or baby they lost previously. It all comes together, and it is messy. We can be a part of the net that holds you and all the messy feelings about life and death, joy and grief, together. We can also help you find professional resources for counseling and therapy that can be very effective in processing grief and trauma related to pregnancy and infant loss.
Here are some helpful links:
13 Things You Should Know About Grief After Miscarriage or Baby Loss
Empty Arms: Hope and Support For Those Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Tubal Pregnancy
Please contact us if you are looking for local resources for professional counseling support.
Have you seen this book? Postpartum doula Rachel Brinker gives it a review! Read on to find out why she loves it.
Book Review: The First Forty Days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother.
--Rachel Brinker, MA, Postpartum and Infant Care Doula, owner of Proud Mama Support Services
This book brings fresh light and new perspective onto a very common postpartum practice in traditional cultures--a period of "cocooning" the postpartum mother for roughly six weeks (about 40 days) after birth. Historically, each culture has approached this period differently, with different rituals, restrictions on activity, and diets, but the basic premise across cultures remains the same: Pregnancy and birth is a huge tax on a woman's body and soul, and she needs time--a lot more time than just two or three days--to fully recover.
Our modern society barely acknowledges that the postpartum adjustment period exists, and the idea of a women--a modern, independent working woman with her own career, drive, motivation, and goals--taking FORTY days off of "real life" to nest with her baby and be taken care of, rather than being the caretaker of others, seems radical, backward, and out-of-date to most of us. But is it? In this book, Heng Ou beautifully describes why it's not backward or out-of-date at all. It's smart.
After the author Heng Ou, a first-generation Chinese American, gave birth, she was nourished and pampered by her "Auntie Ou" in the Chinese traditional "confinement period" of zuo yuezi, which is a forty-day period of rest, shelter from the outside world, and intentional replenishment of the nutrients lost during pregnancy and birth. Experiencing this traditional time of healing and rest gave Heng a unique perspective and highlighted for her the importance of finding ways to honor these traditional practices within our busy modern lives.
I wholeheartedly concur with Heng when she writes, "I've had a front-row view of what is sorely lacking in our contemporary culture--a dedicated space and time that allows a woman to "become" a mother at her own pace. It's hard to reconcile the unique needs of postpartum with the demands of our fast-paced, highly productive society--how can we slow down and do less in a world that's continually asking us to do more? All the often, women experience a stressful clash of the two. For many mothers, the joy of a baby's arrival is mixed up with harder feelings: isolation and loneliness after the initial welcoming buzz subsides; bewildering fatigue from trying to hold it all together, or confusion and shame when they cannot."
Looking across cultures, Heng identifies five insights that most postpartum traditions from around the world have in common. These are the factors that remain vitally important for postpartum adjustment and recovery, and the formation of a woman's identity as a mother. The specific foods, rituals, and herbs used can vary from culture to culture, and in our modern postpartum period, may disappear altogether. However, the importance of these five elements of postpartum care remains:
Whether or not you identify with a certain traditional culture, these five elements can be a part of your postpartum experience. Intentionally creating space for retreat, warmth, support, rest, and ritual in the first six weeks postpartum comes with long-lasting positive benefits for you and your family.
This is exactly what a postpartum doula does--we support you in finding ways to bring these five elements into your postpartum period, whatever that looks like for you. Even if you only have six weeks--or less--off from work, before the calls from "real life" must be answered, and you think taking herbs for lactation or placenta encapsulation is more "woo" than you're into*, a postpartum doula can bring an extra layer of support to the time that you do have, help ease the transition to the next phase, and be a source of emotional support when it feels hard and overwhelming.
Balancing motherhood and modern life is hard. It is a struggle sometimes. You don't have to do it alone. There are people who can bring more ease, rest, peace of mind, and nourishment to your experience. Unless you live in a traditional community where women support each other across generations, passing down wisdom and recipes for nourishing broths and rejuvenative herbal baths, those people are called postpartum doulas. Give us a call!
*There's nothing wrong with alternative medicine, placenta encapsulation, or natural methods of supporting pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. We love it all! We also acknowledge it's not everyone's cup of tea. Postpartum doula support is for everyone, and our support is valued by people all across the spectrum of parenting and lifestyle choices. We bring customized support to YOU. It doesn't look just one way for everyone.
Check out our Vision Statement below!
In our vision for the future, Proud Mama Support Services is a central hub through which independent birth support professionals who share our core values, are mentored and engage in collaborative professional and business development, and families can find top-quality, professional perinatal support that is the perfect fit for them and their family.
We work toward a future in which every person in Corvallis, in Oregon, in the US, and beyond, is aware that professional postpartum doula support exists. In this future, the postpartum adjustment for mothers and parents, early parenting, and infant development is studied, planned for, and supported as much, if not more, than labor and birth itself. This preparation and awareness begins before or during pregnancy, and is woven into the childbirth education, medical care, birth doula support, and the culture around pregnancy at large. Postpartum women, men, and all new parents have access to judgement-free peer support. Each person knows how to access professional mental health services, and those local services truly understand and respond appropriately to the uniqueness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) and other common postpartum struggles. Proud Mama Support Services is an integral part of the postpartum network of support in our local Oregon community.
Additionally, we envision a future where women who are professionally trained, carry specialized knowledge and experience in giving care and support to families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, are a valued member of the family's collaborative support team during this life transition. Doulas, who invest in knowledge and skills that benefit families, babies, and parents, benefit from affiliation with Proud Mama Support Services because we are able to have a broader reach in marketing and network as a group than as individual doulas, and because all affiliated doulas align with the core values of Proud Mama Support Services. Clients benefit from choosing Proud Mama Support Services because they can trust that our entire team upholds the same values and the same commitment to excellence in our service to families. Families who hire support through Proud Mama Support Services have access to the cumulative knowledge, experience, and areas of expertise of the entire PMSS Team.
Did you get a flu shot? Do you think anyone else has the right to ask you about it? Do you have a right to ask people who work with your children about their vaccination status, and the status of their own children?
At Proud Mama Support Services, we respect every parents' right to make their own informed decision about vaccinations for their infant, and their right to inquire about the vaccination status of professionals working with them. We also respect the informed decisions our doulas have made for their own health and the health of their families. We do not require all our doulas to disclose their immunization records to us or to clients. However, when a client makes a request for a doula with up-to-date immunizations, we will match that client with a doula who meets their family's needs.
Everyone has a right to make their choice. There are definitely circumstances where it absolutely is the parents' business to know the vaccination status of people who are around their children. Babies and children sometimes have compromised immune systems, and this is just one example of when it IS your business, and we will help find the right support team for you and your family.
Proud Mama Support Services was founded in 2015. What have we been up to for the last 2.5 years? Plenty!
Proud Mama Support Services by the numbers: