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  • Writer's pictureInterval Health

Can a Doula or a Lactation Consultant Protect Against PPD/PPA

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Most people think of a doula as an individual who can help with pre-birth, especially during the delivery. That’s right; they can. But, if you find that you’re struggling after having your baby, a postpartum doula can help, as well.

Even if you didn’t use a doula throughout your pregnancy, you could use one postpartum if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. A lactation consultant is also a great resource to take advantage of after having a baby. They are especially helpful if you’ve never breastfed before or find it to be more a challenge than previously anticipated.

Far too many women think they need to do everything on their own after giving birth. This turns out to be more of a self-imposed rule that makes the postpartum weeks and months unnecessarily difficult. Thankfully, more and more new moms are realizing just how helpful doulas and lactation consultants can be and their popularity continues to grow for this very reason.

If you’re worried that you might be dealing with postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum anxiety (PPA) after giving birth, let’s talk more about how these resources can help.

What Can a Doula Do After Delivery?

Doulas don’t just guide you through labor and then walk away. Many stick around to help you through your first few weeks of being a new mother. That can include anything from taking care of things around your home to letting you get some much-needed rest while they watch the baby.

Most doulas also understand some of the most common signs of PPD/PPA in a way that friends and family members may not. That’s crucial because there are different emotions to understand after a baby is born. You might brush off your feelings of sadness as the “baby blues.” That’s normal, and many mothers experience it.

However, there is a big difference between PPD/PPA and the baby blues. A doula can help you to recognize those differences and refer you to a professional counselor or doctor for further help sooner rather than later.

If you’ve already received a PPD/PPA diagnosis, a doula can act as someone who is there for you. They will be an open ear and answer any questions you might have. They can also provide reassurance.

Remember, you are not a bad mother if you’re struggling with PPD or PPA. It also doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby. Talking to your doula about those feelings can give you some peace of mind. PPD doesn’t last forever, but your doula can make it easier to get through.

How Can a Lactation Consultant Help?

Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally to new mothers and babies. Just because breastfeeding feels like it should be natural doesn’t mean it always is. Perhaps your baby isn’t latching correctly, or you’re concerned they aren’t getting the nutrition they need. A lactation consultant can help you trouble shoot a clumsy latch or one that perhaps needs evaluated for a tongue or lip tie release by a doctor.

You certainly are not alone. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and even anxious. I always say that with the first child in particular, "You don't know what you don't know". And this applies in particular to breastfeeding. Many new moms are caught off guard when breastfeeding does not work out as planned. And feelings of failure creep in early.

Can They Help If I'm Having My Second Child?

Absolutely. Many moms/couples/parents are highly anxious when pregnant with a second or third child because of a previous experience with PPD or PPA. But I'm here to tell you that your past experience does not have to be this experience. With the help of doulas, lactation consultants and other mental health professionals (such as a specially trained therapist or psychiatrist) you can have a much different experience this time. Many couples find that prenatal counseling as a couple while pregnant with their second helps make the postpartum weeks and months much smoother the second time around.

Similarly, working with a doula or lactation consultant can help fill in knowledge gaps that can help transfer this postpartum experience into something more positive.

In a Nutshell...

A lactation consultant can ease your worries and anxious feelings about breastfeeding. They can give you expert advice, tips, and instructions on making breastfeeding easier on you and the baby. Because that’s often such a huge worry for new moms, a lactation consultant is an excellent resource for combatting PPA.

Please don’t assume that you’re just dealing with the baby blues after giving birth. If you’re feeling extremely sad or anxious, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Doulas and lactation consultants are both great resources, and they are there to help you. If you are feeling down or anxious, a specially trained mental health therapist can also help. I am specially trained in maternal mental health and works with many first time and second time moms and couples. I can help you and also refer you to ancillary resources such as a local doula or lactation consultation.

I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.

To learn more about how counseling can help while pregnant, please click here.

And if you are in the midst of the postpartum period now, check out here how counseling could help you.

BRINGING BABY HOME: A NEW PARENT WORKSHOP IS GOING VIRTUAL!!!! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.


Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!


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