When we think about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) we often think of those who have survived severe abuse or war. We do not normally think of mothers. There are millions of women who experience birth trauma each year. It is estimated that approximately 4% of all mothers are affected by postpartum PTSD and up to 20% of mothers experiencing high risk pregnancies or births such as preterm birth. This is in addition to the estimated 20% that will experience postpartum depression.
Obviously, birth trauma varies for different individuals. Only you get to define what is traumatic for you. My own experience with birth trauma and postpartum depression involved a multiple pregnancy (triplets), developing a serious pregnancy complication, an emergency C-section at 32 weeks, a hemorrhage that required multiple blood transfusions, an infection in my surgical site, the inability to make enough milk for my wee babies, and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay that lasted for 6 weeks for two of the boys and 8 weeks for the smallest of the three. As we celebrate the 8th birthday of our triplet boys, my feelings are bittersweet. Of course, there is joy as we honor the lives of our growing children, but there is also a melancholy that settles over me for days surrounding their birthday each year. Recalling the day that they were born is complicated and often stressful.
NICU is its own distinctive ordeal where your baby is often connected to life-saving machines with wires, cables, and tubes and constantly under the surveillance of highly trained professionals. The incessant sounds of beeping, dinging, and overheard conversations become the unfortunate soundtrack of your new motherhood. Every day there is potential for a new diagnosis or complication. You see babies even smaller or sicker than your own and your heart aches for them as well. Some parents are not lucky enough to ever get to take their sweet babies home from this place of suspended turmoil. For those of us that do, we often have become so accustomed to timed vital signs and all of the technology that reassures us that our babies are in fact alive and well, that going home without any of these devices is very disturbing and uncomfortable for weeks or months. How are we to trust that these little beings who have needed days, weeks, or months of constant support to breathe and eat are now just going to survive on their own without any of these accoutrements?
One problem with birth trauma, PTSD, anxiety, postpartum depression and other maternal mood disturbances, is that it can be so very isolating. Many mothers feel that they have nowhere to turn, that no one understands. This is often compounded by the guilt and shame you might experience for even having these feelings. “You have your baby, don’t you?”, “Most people don’t have the birth they imagine, right?”
“So why can’t you just get over it? Move on?” are some of the thoughts that might echo through your head as you try to will your way out of feeling the way you do. I want you to know that there is help. We are here for you. We offer many resources to help new families in their time of transition whether they had the enchanted birth of their dreams or are affected by birth trauma. Your support from Dar a Luz does not end after baby comes. The midwives are still available 24/7 via the midwife call phone to help with postpartum or newborn concerns. We have many postpartum groups including the breastfeeding group that meets every Wednesday and the postpartum support group as well as father groups and parenting classes. These groups are open to the community as well as Dar a Luz families. We also, offer breastmilk via informal milk sharing with other Dar a Luz mothers or through the Denver Milk Bank. Additionally, we have many referral sources for therapists who specialize in postpartum mood disorders, including Kimberlee Boreson-Maresma who facilitates many of the groups and classes.
If you think you need help, please reach out to us. You are doing a great job, momma!-Alisa Henning, CNM
“Postpartum depression is an illness and not a reflection of you as a mother or a woman.”
A big THANK YOU goes to CLUBWAKA, a social sports league raising awareness and donations for Dar a Luz. CLUBWAKA delivers “fun and life-changing happiness” across the country by operating various sports leagues like kickball, volleyball, dodgeball, and even bar games; plus social events like themed parties, camping, and ski trips. Find out how much fun an adult sports league can be at clubwaka.com. We wish CLUBWAKA all the best as they start their new season!
Calling all Pappies! You thought it was gone, but we are bringing it back!
Did you and your partner have a baby or will soon? Do you like to drink beer in a safe, responsible way? Do you want to drink beer in a safe, responsible way with other dudes who have ALSO had a baby with their partner?!? If you answered yes to these questions, then Pappy Hour may be for YOU!
This group is for dads only! Moderated by Dar a Luz dads, these casual gatherings will be held at various local brewpubs, about once a month. We are excited for Dar a Luz dads to have the opportunity to gather and connect in a relaxed atmosphere. All dads (new, experienced, expecting) in our greater Albuquerque and surrounding communities are welcome too. Scheduled weekend days most months, each time at a different local brewery or distillery.
Thursday, February 20th, from 5-7 p.m. Location to be announced
RSVP HEREDar a Luz does not advocate or encourage the abuse of alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly and in moderation.
To register for classes visit our website calendar pageHERE
Learn what happens when birth doesn’t go as expected. Hear from midwives, doulas, counselors, and a past family who transferred. Free dinner! YOU MUST register for this class. Click HERE to register.
Wednesday, Feb 26th 5:15 to 8:00 p.m.
Doula Teas with the New Life Doula Collective Come & join us for some tea, and meet our doulas. We’ll help you learn more about doula care, so you can explore your options. RSVP for tea HERE to let us know you’re coming (drop-ins OK too) or to learn more about doulas visit Doula page on our website HERE
Saturday, Feb 8th noon
Breastfeeding and New Moms
Facilitated by our Lactation Consultant Robin Hayter with support from the nurses and midwives.
Wednesday mornings, 10:00 to noon
Postpartum Mom Group Our staff counselor Kimberlee Maresma, LPCC will hold a therapeutic group that supports the new mother for the first year. Email Kimberlee HERE with any questions.
Friday, Feb 7th noon
Fathers Mindful Group
Thursday, Feb 27th at 6 p.m. The Postpartum Partner Group has a new name! Please join Jose Maresma for an evening of an emotionally safe exploration of the differences our partners face after the birth of a new baby. This Workshop is for fathers. Suggested donation: $10-20 Read more about classes and events at the birth center.
Baby Count 987
…and counting! That’s over 2877 gallons! Go, Mamas, Go!
Bonus classes Disclaimer: Most of the special events below are set up and led by community members — not Dar a Luz staff members — and as such, they don’t necessarily reflect our beliefs as an organization. Dar a Luz is not responsible for their content, and does not necessarily endorse every aspect presented. _____________________________ Baby Massage
Sunday, Feb 9th 11 a.m. Bring your baby, bottle of oil, and $15 per couple for a magical hour learning about the benefits of baby massage with other families. _____________________________ Babies beyond the Basics
Part 1 Sunday, Feb 16th 10 a.m. Part 2, Sunday, Feb 23rd 11 a.m. Exciting changes to this series for 2020 including more time, topics, and guest speakers! Sign up HERE _____________________________ Melanie J Yanke Designs
Check out our very own Midwife Melanie’s etsy page HERE
Name: Ruian, Ezra, and Nolan Birthdate: April 24th, May 5th, June 16th Fun Fact: These adorable boy’s Mamas got to know each other in classes prenatally and postpartum . You can have your baby featured by emailing usHERE a picture of your cutie and we’ll put them in a newsletter! Please include permission to use the image, your little one’s first name, date of birth, and a fun fact.