As this is a frequently asked question I thought it important to discuss briefly. It certainly is a profound and complicated issue. There are many concerns today about postpartum depression and the need for professional help and support may be indicated. According to U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Postpartum depression is moderate to severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. Most of the time, it occurs within the first 3 months after delivery.”
Postpartum Doulas are not trained to provide in depth support in this area. However, the presence and reassurance of a Postpartum Doula can assist in some incidences of preventing postpartum depression. She will be providing a safe environment and listening to the mom’s concerns. She is also prepared to identify signs of depression and to supply resources available with medical information as well as professionals specifically trained to support Postpartum depression.
More specifically, I would like to quote from DONA (Doulas of North America): “Unlike therapists or psychiatrists, doulas do not treat postpartum depression. However, they will help by creating a safe place for the mother emotionally. The doula will provide a cushioning effect by accepting the mother within each stage that she passes through. They relieve some of the pressure on the new mother by helping her move into her new responsibilities gradually. By mothering the mother, doulas make sure that the mother feels nurtured and cared for, as well as making sure she is eating well and getting enough sleep. In addition, DONA International certified postpartum doulas are trained to help clients prepare themselves for parenthood, maximizing support and rest. These doulas will help their clients to screen themselves for PPMDs and will make referrals to appropriate clinicians or support groups as needed.” <The italics are mine as they are key in my mind and provide major distinctions between a Postpartum Doula and other professionals, i.e. a therapist or psychiatrist.>
For more information, see @FAQ (DONA) “Do doulas help mothers to deal with postpartum depression?” <http://www.dona.org/mothers/faqs_postpartum.php#8>