When a baby arrives, life transforms into a rollercoaster of moods and the stress can rise to a much higher level. In the past, new parents relied on the assistance of family and friends during this time to help manage the steep parenting learning curve. But with families now scattered throughout the world, and busy schedules and expensive travel costs creating challenges to visit, first-time parents are often left on their own to figure it out. Enter postpartum coaching.
Robyn Nolin, RN and case manager for Sharp Health Plan explains, "A postpartum coach helps support and navigate new parents through the beginning stages of parenthood by identifying skills and strengths, and reducing the risk for postpartum depression and anxiety."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 11 to 20 percent of postnatal women suffer from postpartum depression, and only 15 percent of those receive professional treatment. Postpartum coaches can help both mothers and fathers take better care of themselves, stay healthy and build confidence in this new role they play.
"Nearly all new parents fear that they are doing it incorrectly — not to mention the emotional complications they experience," says Nolin. "When they feel high expectations and pressures to be perfect, anxiety and depression can definitely interfere. A postpartum coach can help parents through their transition into parenthood."
The postpartum coaching process begins either during pregnancy or within the first year after birth and can involve a variety of support options from email, phone and in-person visits. Their services can include everything from emotional aid to education, such as:
- Breastfeeding support and instruction, including how to pump and store breastmilk
- Best practices in bathing, dressing and massaging the baby
- How to design a childproof home for maximum security
- Creating a proper sleeping schedule
- Devising a nutrition plan for the mother to keep her energy level high and produce healthy breastmilk
- Establishing a daily schedule to reduce the intense load of parenting responsibilities
- Monitoring the immediate postnatal recovery of the mother
- Preparing the mother for long-term wellness, such as when it is best for her to begin exercising again and how to follow appropriate weight loss methods
If you decide to hire a postpartum coach, look for a certified and experienced doula, midwife or doctor. Spend time interviewing several candidates to make sure his or her personality complements your family and you have similar views in parenting styles.
If you recently had a baby, learn more about the Baby and Me Time new parent support group happening on Mondays at 2:30 pm at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. This group offers informal drop-in sessions for new parents and their babies from birth to six months old.