Mamatoga Meet the Doula: Guest Blogger Amy Breese

Today our guest blogger is Amy Breese, a postpartum doula and lactation counselor. I reached out to Amy because I myself wasn't entirely sure what exactly a doula did, especially a postpartum doula. I had heard of the term before but had up until recently had only associated a doula with someone who helps with the birth of the baby, not after. After doing a little research, I found out some great stuff about doulas and the valuable role they can provide in this important time in a woman's life. I love the idea that a doula "fills in the gap" that used to be filled by a new mom's family members. When I had my first child my mom lived out of state and although she hurried to be there, I was keenly aware of how much I wanted her by my side. The idea that a doula can do her best to fill this role for a new mom can be a comforting one. Amy is also the co-founder of the non-profit group "Shades of Light" which provides resources to women experiencing depression, anxiety and other challenges during their pregnancy or postpartum time. Read more about Shades of Light here in this Saratogian feature. Amy is part of the Doula Network of the Capital Region, and you can come and meet other Doulas from The Doula Network next Tuesday, December 6th from 6-8pm at One Big Roof, 433 Broadway, Suite 302 in Saratoga Springs. This free event is for pregnant and newly postpartum families, and is also open to those thinking about having a child who want to learn what a doula is. Birth and Postpartum Doulas will be in attendance to answer questions. Yummy snacks and great door prizes as well! For more information contact Amanda Mody at 577-1222. Now here is Amy's guest blog, enjoy Mamatogians!

The role of the postpartum doula is not new and historically was filled by a new mother's family members. However, we now live in a society where families live farther apart and grandparents are working longer.  As a result there has been a gap in who is able to nurture and care for a new family and thus the developement of a specialized, professional postpartum doula.

 Postpartum doulas typically meet the family during the prenatal period.  Meeting prenatally, allows everyone to  get to know each other. A postpartum plan is often created so that the doula can learn more about the families desires and needs during their immediate days and weeks following the birth or adoption of their baby.  The doula can help provide resources on various topics the new parents may be interested in, such as diapering options, breastfeeding, baby equipment, soothing techniques and much more.

 Once the baby is born/adopted, the doula will help take care of the family so that they can settle into their new roles.  The tasks a doula can help with vary depending on the needs of each individual family and can even change on a day to day basis.  Some areas that doulas can be very helpful include: non-judgmental emotional support, physical comfort measures, breast or bottlefeeding guidance, teaching baby basics, infant comfort measures, sibling adjustment, watching for signs of postpartum depression, baby wearing, providing resources and referrals, and household management such as doing dishes, laundry, cooking meals and running errands.  Doulas can act as a sounding board for parent's questions and concerns.

Amy Breese, PCD(DONA),CLC  (www.tendercaredoula.com) has been certified as a postpartum doula through DONA International since 2004 and as a lactation counselor through the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice since 2005.  During that time, she has been honored to work with over 75 families. She works very closely with her friend and fellow postpartum doula, Alysa Arnold, PCD(DONA),CLC (www.saratogadoula.com). Together they strive to provide excellent, evidence based care to women and families living in the Capital/Saratoga areas. They are also part of a large doula co-operative The Doula Network (www.thedoulanetwork.org).

 In May of 2011, Amy started a support group for women experiencing perinatal mood disorders.  She, along with co-founder Suzanne Nelson have started a non-profit group "Shades of Light".  Their mission is to provide resources to women experiencing depression, anxiety and other challenges during their pregnancy or postpartum time.  Support groups are currently being held in Troy, Saratoga Springs and Albany, NY.