Viewing entries tagged
postpartum

January is National Blood Donor Month

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January is National Blood Donor Month

January is national blood donor month. According to the American Red Cross, winter is “one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs.”

The holidays and weather factor into this, but it’s also flu season and seasonal illnesses are at a high. This is why, if you find yourself healthy in these winter months, donating blood is of utmost importance. 

Blood transfusion in pregnant and postpartum women is a common occurrence. The two main reasons for blood transfusion are postpartum hemorrhages and severe anemia. 

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  • According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, postpartum hemorrhaging is responsible for 25% of material morality. 

  • The average amount of blood loss after the birth of a single baby in vaginal delivery is about 500 ml or 1,000 ml in a cesarean delivery. Any loss above this is considered a postpartum hemorrhage with varying levels of severity. 

  • Women who loose 1500-2000+ ml of blood have extreme hemorrhaging and need blood transfusions. This means the woman has lost 25-35% of her blood volume. 

  • About 5% of women suffer from postpartum hemorrhage and that number is more likely with a cesarean birth which account for over 30% of births in the US. 

  • According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, anemia during pregnancy is responsible for 15% of maternal mortality.

  • Anemia during pregnancy is quite common and can usually be treated with extra iron supplements or change in diet. However if anemia isn’t addressed during pregnancy it can become severe causing loss of blood or preventions of clotting during labor or postpartum and may require a blood transfusion. 

  • According to The American Red Cross, one person can donate around 470ml of blood at a time. This means, often, and in severe cases, one person may need blood donated from several people to save their lives. 

We’ve compiled a list of places local to the DMV to donate. If you know of others please drop us a comment or an email!

American Blood Centers- Washington, DC

American Red Cross- Locations in Alexandria, DC, Fairfax, Ft. Belvoir, La Plata, Quantico, and Rockville

INOVA Blood Donor Services- Locations in Alexandria, Annandale, Centerville, and Sterling.

National Institute of Health- Bethesda.

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Chicken and Butternut Squash Chowder Recipe

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Chicken and Butternut Squash Chowder Recipe

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National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day is observed each year on November 12.  According to the National Day Calendar, this day was created to celebrate who you are, where you have been, where you are going and who you will be thankful for when you get there.

Chicken soup has earned a reputation for being the perfect meal to enjoy when you’re sick, or feeling down, or wanting to warm up on a cold day. We wanted to combine celebrating that feeling and warmth with our Healthy for the Holidays series.

Today we are sharing with you our twist on the traditional chicken soup recipe with Chicken and Butternut Squash Chowder.    

From our team chef and postpartum doula, Vanessa Fowler:

No backstory here. I wanted to create something for this series that is also healing for postpartum mothers. It’s family friendly and warm for the season while still, for the most part, being healthy and giving you the control to make it quick during the week or with slightly more time on the weekend.

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How to Talk to a Mom (About Postpartum Depression or Anxiety)

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How to Talk to a Mom (About Postpartum Depression or Anxiety)

In April of 2018 the Association of Certified Nurse Midwives held a symposium at George Washington University Hospital. The event drew a diverse group of professionals, from Certified Nurse Midwives who work labor and delivery, or even in private practice at birth centers or attending homebirths, MD’s, physical therapists, mental health professionals, and a handful of non-medical professionals, including doulas from Doulas of Capitol Hill and our sister agency, Doulas of Prince George’s County.

Of the many topics and guest speakers at the symposium, Dr. Pooja Lakshmin came to speak from her expertise in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD’S). Dr. Lakshmin is a board certified psychiatrist specializing in women's mental health and reproductive psychiatry.

Today on the blog we share this list of questions Dr. Lakshmin included in her talk because we feel that one of the most challenging barriers a new mom can have toward getting mental health attention is that those people nearest to her don’t know what to say or how to talk about it. Breaking the stigma around mental health can start by asking any one of these questions.

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For more resources and tips on supporting someone you think may be experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, please check out Doulas of Capitol Hill Resource Guide.

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PMAD's and the Role of the Doula

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PMAD's and the Role of the Doula

Doulas of Capitol Hill was founded on three guiding principles: Support the Family, Build the Community. Grow the Profession. Today on the blog we are sharing this resource from Dr. Emma Basch PsyD, a psychologist in Washington, DC, who specializes in women’s mental health with a focus on perinatal and reproductive concerns.

Dr. Basch was a recent guest speaker to one of our team meetings and she shared her expertise with our birth and postpartum doulas, as well as our lactation consultants, to help our professionals continuing education and growth. She provides this useful guide for doulas to support clients and their families.

Recently the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) updated their recommendations that women see their health care provider sooner than 6 weeks to screen for physical and mental health complications. Having a doula during pregnancy and in the first year after birth is an additional layer of support to see you through this transitional time between leaving the hospital and seeing your health care provider.

Dr. Basch acknowledges that “reaching out to a therapist can feel like a daunting task.” She recognizes the valuable role that doulas can play in screening for PMAD’s, as we often spend many hours with a client over weeks or months, whereas a doctor or nurse may only spend a few minutes.

PMAD’s are common and also treatable. You are not alone.

PMAD’S and the Role of the Doula

by Dr. Emma Basch PsyD

  • PMAD is an umbrella term that refers to the spectrum of emotional challenges that may arise during the perinatal period (from pregnancy through one year postpartum).

  • There are seven different perinatal mood and anxiety disorders including Perinatal Anxiety, Perinatal Depression, Perinatal Panic Disorder, Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Perinatal Bipolar Disorder, and Postpartum Psychosis.

  • PMADs are the most common complication of pregnancy with 15-20% of people who have given birth reporting symptoms. While PMADS are most common in people who are pregnant or who have given birth, partners and adoptive parents can also develop symptoms of a PMAD.

  • Risk Factors: A personal or family history of depression or anxiety or other mental health concerns, Medical problems including diabetes, thyroid disorders, or PMDD, Difficult pregnancy, birth complications, Financial stress, Lack of social support, History of Pregnancy Loss, Infertility

  • Typical Symptoms of PPA/PPD: Irritability, Difficulty sleeping, Lack of interest in pregnancy or baby, Sadness, tearfulness, Shame and guilt, Feeling hopeless, Worry or feeling like something bad is going to happen, Racing thoughts, Restlessness, “Scary” or upsetting thoughts which may include thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby

  • VERY Common: Ego dystonic scary, bizarre or violent thoughts, Thoughts are terrifying to sufferer, Person does everything possible to resist the thought or neutralize it, VERY low risk of hurting baby

  • Psychosis/Emergency: Ego Syntonic scary, bizarre or violent thoughts, Thoughts are ego syntonic and connected to delusions. There is a risk of hurting baby or self

  • PP Bipolar/Psychosis:

    A rare illness that occurs in about 1% of women

    Symptoms generally emerge in the first 2-3 weeks postpartum and are thought to have a hormonal link

    Symptoms include: Delusions and hallucinations, Can include violent commands, Hyperactivity and decreased need for sleep, Mood swings, Paranoia

    Risk Factors: Personal or family history of bipolar disorder or psychosis, 5% Suicide Rate and 4% Infanticide Rate so should always be treated as emergency

Role of a Doula

  • ASSESSMENT (PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM)

    • Pregnancy- what to ask

      • Ask about mental health history

      • History of pregnancy- infertility, losses?

      • Prior births- listen for trauma

      • Worries/mood (frequency, intensity, duration, distress)

      • Sleep

      • support system

    • Postpartum

      • Sleep (#1) question- if birthing person is not sleeping, not tired, racing thoughts, this is an emergency

      • May look “well” but not be coping well

      • Watching baby breath

      • Feeling disconnected from baby

      • Not caring for self

      • Tearful and overwhelmed

      • Feeding challenges

    • Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EDPS)- you can administer and score

    • Birth trauma

  • BRIEF INTERVENTION


Dr. Basch has advanced training in the treatment of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS), infertility, perinatal loss, and birth trauma

Dr. Basch has advanced training in the treatment of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS), infertility, perinatal loss, and birth trauma

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Resources For Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and PMAD's

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Resources For Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and PMAD's

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According to the research, between 15 and 20% of new moms will experience some sort of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs) after giving birth.  PMADs are the most common pregnancy complication. Having a baby can be very isolating and suffering from a mental health problem on top of that can cause even more problems. PMADs might affect a woman’s ability to care for herself and her children.  These illnesses are common and treatable.

Signs and Symptoms

Healthy New Moms.org

Crisis/ Suicide Hotline

Suicide accounts for 5.3% of perinatal deaths, or approximately 1 out of every 19 deaths in pregnant or postpartum women during that time period.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Crisis Text Line

Screening Tools

Mental Health America.net Online screening for depression, anxiety, psychosis, and other mental health disorders

Maternal Mental Health Now- Self-screen toolkit

Edinburgh Scale for Postnatal Depression Easy to use screening tool for postpartum depression used by doctors, nurses, and health professionals


How to Set Up a Postpartum Depression / Anxiety Plan

How to talk to a Mom, by Pooja Lakshmin, MD at the American College of Nurse Midwives DC Affiliate Conference on Women's Health and Wellness in April 2018, Doulas of Capitol Hill blog (coming soon!)

Mother Mag blog post How to Prepare for Postpartum Depression

National Institute of Health Mom’s Mental Health Matters (website down)

Postpartum Support Virginia PDF The Postpartum Plan


Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders; Healing Outcomes, by Laura Macone, MSW, LCSW, Doulas of Capitol Hill Client Portal, resource accessible for Doulas of Capitol Hill families (requires password).

PMAD and the Role of the Doula, by Dr. Emma Basch PsyD,  Doulas of Capitol Hill blog (coming soon!)

Talking with Women about Postpartum Depression and Anxiety,  by Laura Macone, MSW, LCSW, Doulas of Capitol Hill Client Portal, resource accessible for Doulas of Capitol Hill families (requires password)


Local Resources

Healthy New Moms- Maryland’s Maternal Mental Health Campaign

Postpartum Support DC

Postpartum Support Maryland

Postpartum Support Virginia


Local Mental Health Professionals

Catalyst Counseling, Laura Macone LCSW, Alexandria, VA

Center for Maternal Wellness NW DC

DC/MD/ VA Guide find a specialist in perinatal mental health

Dr. Emma Basch, PsyD NW DC

George Washington University Five Trimester’s Clinic- low fee medication evaluation and management

Mary’s Center- lower fee therapy and medication

The Spring Project low fee psychotherapy

Washington Anxiety Center SE DC


Local Support Groups

Dr. Emma Basch PsyD NW DC

P.A.C.E Moms groups many small groups throughout the DMV

Postpartum Support Virginia Fairfax and Alexandria

Emily Griffin LCSW NW DC

Online Resources

Center for Disease Control

Climb Out of Darkness  The world’s largest event raising awareness of maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and OCD, postpartum post-traumatic stress, postpartum psychosis, perinatal bipolar mood disorders, and pregnancy depression and anxiety.

National Institute of Mental Health

Postpartum Depression.org Tips for partners, Take a quiz

Postpartum Progress The world’s most widely-read blog dedicated to maternal mental illness.

Postpartum Support International

TED Talk on one woman’s experience and her TED Talk to bring awareness and reduce the stigma of postpartum depression

Medication During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding/ Chestfeeding

LactMed online catalog of medicine and it’s safety rating for breastfeeding/ chestfeeding parents

Reducing stress and anxiety while breastfeeding, by Kim Hawkins Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Doulas of Capitol Hill blog
SSRI’s, Pregnancy, and Motherhood, by Katie B, Doulas of Capitol Hill blog


For Partners

The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression

Postpartum for Fathers from Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Men for fathers who have postpartum depression



Trainings for Doulas/ Birth Attendants

Mary’s Center DC based trainings

Maternal Mental Health Now “Community Provider Toolkit” pdf download

Maternal Mental Health Now “Online Training”

Postpartum Support International webinars for families and community

Postpartum Support International Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women of Color created to fill a gap in support services for professionals and communities of color around perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

Seleni Includes a free 30 minute training and course bundles


Supplementary Methods

Acupuncture Lavender Retreat SE DC

Fertile Living Alexandria, VA

EFT tapping/ Hypnosis

Flower essence (Bach Rescue Remedy ™) study on use of flower essence to assist in depression treatment

Yoga- published study on the use of yoga for treatment of depression


Research

Sleep and Perinatal Mood Disorders: A critical review

Recent Advances in Understanding Maternal Perinatal Mood Disorders

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Postpartum Depression treatment for Low-income Women of Color




Information on this web site is for educational purposes only. It may provide some self-help relief. However, it should not substitute for a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed mental health professional.




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Winters Granola Recipe

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Winters Granola Recipe

The holiday season is filled with so much joy and celebration. But we know that it can also bring on a lot of stress and heavy comfort foods. For the months of November and December Doulas of Capitol Hill is celebrating how to have a healthy holiday season. One of the ways we want to encourage you to participate in the holidays, while minding your health, is by providing some easy and delicious recipes. Our team chef and postpartum doula, Vanessa Fowler is sharing one of those recipes with you today.

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By Vanessa Fowler

I decided to come up with different kinds of granola, mainly for my husband, and I love this one in particular. He is not a big breakfast person but I am. I think it makes for a better day because it makes for a better you. He does eat cereal so I wanted to make it a bit healthier. Plus, I always find him getting frustrated down the cereal aisle because it’s often all sugar or healthy but no flavor. Winters Granola came about with the thought of just wanting to bring warmth and flavor of the season to my husband during the winter while he is at work. It’s brought us so much joy!

Now I am able to share my Winters Granola with all of you. May it bring you warmth and flavor of the season and as much joy to your family as it has to mine.

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One of our wonderful Instagram followers suggested adding some dates if you're towards the end of your pregnancy, and we love that idea!

There have been numerous studies that show the positive effects of dates on the outcome of labor.

According to Mama Natural A study published in 2017: Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery.

Published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, this study supported all the initial findings. The authors concluded that:

“Dates fruit consumption during late pregnancy has been shown to positively affect the outcome of labour and delivery without adverse effect on the mother and child.”

So go ahead and get the go ahead from your provider and then pile on those dates!

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Sharing Stories Series: Reality of Breastfeeding

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Sharing Stories Series: Reality of Breastfeeding

Doulas of Capitol Hill’s tagline is ‘Let’s Tell Your Story’. Every new parent starts a new chapter in their lives. These stories are memories that are a part of a family’s legacy, and we believe they contribute to the community conversation. We want to give voice to our clients to share their story. In the first of this ongoing series, in honor of National Breastfeeding Week, here is the story from Elisa and baby Orion about their breastfeeding journey. 

We've all heard "breast is best," but what they do not say is that breastfeeding is HARD WORK. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and commitment! Something that has really stuck with me is this idea that ‘your baby has never had to work for his food before’. It takes time to become a skilled nursing pair!

doulas of capitol hill client

My son Orion was born early (36 weeks 3 days) via a cesarean birth because he was breech. This unexpected early arrival totally took us by surprise! Immediately upon being wheeled into recovery, Orion laid on my belly and was placed on my breast. He latched right away and our journey began. I was surprised at how natural it felt to feed my baby this way. I thought “this is going to be easy!”

Boy was I wrong.

Those first few days in the hospital were rough. Orion was too little and too sleepy to nurse effectively, my milk took a few days to come in, and he just could not keep his blood sugar up in the numbers the nurses and doctors wanted to see. Although it made me sad, we had to supplement with formula right away to kick start his growth in the right direction.

I got to know the breast pump very well. After every feeding, I would pump to get my supply up and Orion would have a little formula supplement. The one great advantage of this was that his Dad could give him a bottle and he really enjoyed this bonding time.

We continued this regiment at home until his second weight check at the doctor. We were encouraged to breastfeed on each side, burp him, change him, and put him back on the breast again instead of giving him the additional supplement. By the third weight check he was doing great! We could finally stop supplementing and nurse on demand!

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing after that, but the early days of parenthood are exhausting, overwhelming, and intense.

 Orion was doing well with his weight, but he nursed every two hours even through the night. I had to help Orion latch on, be in just the right position, take off layers to keep him awake, and sometimes it just plain hurt to nurse!

 I began to feel like I was just a pair of breasts and anytime I was near him, he began rooting. I was milk and that's all that mattered.

 Every now and then I would pump just to give myself a break (or a nap or a shower!) Finally, at about two months, we turned a corner. Maybe it was all the practice, or Orion getting older, or the fact that he started to go a little bit longer in between feedings - but I finally felt like nursing was working for us. Around this time, Orion began to smile at me and really give something back. It was wonderful to feel like your baby actually likes you and you're not just a pair of breasts!!!

I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave and was worried about the transition. It turned out great. My work gave me a key to a special single executive bathroom and that's where I pump twice a day. I am so lucky that Orion's daycare is really close to work, so I am able to go visit at lunch time and nurse him every workday. This helps keep my supply up and gives us a chance to reconnect.

Fast forward to now, Orion is eight months old. Nursing him is such a blessing! I would not trade it for the world. What I love most is the chance to stop everything and just be with him. The snuggle time, the closeness, and the love I feel between us makes it all worth it...even in the middle of the night. ;) 

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A ProDoula Challenge

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A ProDoula Challenge

Every so often our certifying organization ProDoula challenges us to do blog posts, videos or social media visuals on certain topics. Today's challenge was to write a poem about Doula work in honor of World Doula Week. We kept ours on the lighter side. :) If you are in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia and you are looking for support by professional, non-judgmental, lighthearted women please feel free to contact us!

dad and mom kissing a baby, Washington DC parents

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5 Newborn Tips No One Taught You

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5 Newborn Tips No One Taught You

It is time to leave the hospital with your new baby! You pack up your car, bundle your baby into the car seat (hopefully after being checked by a safety technician!) and arrive home. Then it hits you; you are the sole caregivers for this tiny person. The baby is going to do what every baby does- poop, pee, eat, sleep and cry. These things seem manageable in your mind, but the reality is that it is sometimes overwhelming, scary, exhausting, and all brand new. You think to yourself, ‘Now What?!’

To help both you and your baby have an easier transition home, we have provided 5 tips and insights from our expert postpartum doulas to help ease your transition into parenthood.

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1.       Labor or Exercise Ball

Remember that big yoga ball that is sitting in your corner, perhaps used during your labor for rest and comfort? That ball is a great way to bounce a baby. Babies like to move; they were rocked to sleep consistently inside your uterus, and that desire doesn’t change. Rather than standing and rocking, at least you get the opportunity to sit and get a little rest!

2.       Go Outside

Most parents will tell you that a fussy baby settles quite quickly if you go for a walk. The fresh air and change in scenery provides fresh prospective for you and knocks them right to sleep. A walk isn’t even always necessary- step out to enjoy your deck or patio as the weather gets nicer, and see if your fussy baby goes to sleep!

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3.       Use Your Knuckle

Babies like to suck to sooth, but not everyone wants to use a pacifier, especially in the beginning if breastfeeding. A fussy baby may just want to suck a little and fall asleep, and your knuckle is a perfect tool. It has less germs than our fingertips (we recommend still washing your hands first), has no nail that could scratch the baby’s mouth, and it is wide enough that it more similarly mimics sucking at the breast (because we don’t want the baby to just latch to the nipple, which is the size of your finger). This trick will never sooth an actual hungry baby for long, but works well if a full baby who is not sleeping yet just needs a little more encouragement!

4.       Blow Dryer

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We know this sounds strange, but give us the benefit of the doubt! Babies often hate being changed- think about how you would feel if you were warm and cozy and suddenly someone was taking your clothes off and putting a cold wipe on your butt unexpectedly! Put a blow dryer that you would use for your hair on the changing table. Put your baby down, set the dryer to the low, warm setting and then change his diaper. Your baby will love the warm air and the noise mimics what they heard in utero, making for a happy baby throughout the whole change! This is especially useful for nighttime where your baby maybe almost sleeping after a good feeding but he needs to be changed.

5.       Earplugs

Sometimes babies cry and nothing we do helps them feel better. They could be gassy, overtired, or just irritable; remember, they are little human beings! Earplugs will NOT block out all of the sounds your baby is making, but it can take the edge off. It is scientifically proven that humans react to the sound of a crying baby more than other distressing sounds like a dog whining. Sometimes you just need to find a way to cope that will still allow you to comfort your child. Earplugs also work well at night if you are a parent that has trouble sleeping due to hearing every little noise. Earplugs will block out the little grunts and squeaks, but they will not block out a baby that is actively crying. If concerned, make sure one care provider is not wearing them while the other is, allowing more opportunities to rest AND making sure there is someone responding to baby’s needs. This tool would not work for everyone, as it might make you more anxious to NOT hear everything; it is a method that will help if you are having trouble managing specific moments. For those of you interested in learning more about babies specific cries, you should check out The Dunstan Method

If you would like to discuss other ways we could support you at home with your newborn, please feel free to get in touch! What everyone needs more than any tip or trick is consistent, nonjudgmental support for your ‘fourth trimester’ and beyond. You don’t have to do the work alone!


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