Meet Des Moines’ Postpartum Doulas Helping Mothers Through Forgotten Trimester

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Most commonly, we hear of the three trimesters of pregnancy. All of them are important for the mother and fetal development. However, a group of childbirth educators says the most important trimester has been forgotten altogether, the fourth trimester.

"When you think of postpartum and coming home, it's like "now what?" laughs Kelli Brus a birth and postpartum doula. "I spent so much time planning and preparing for the day and now I bring my baby home and ask 'what do I do now?'"

Brus and few other women in the metro are postpartum doulas. Their job is to help women after they give birth, their priority is the new mother.

"You're coming home and in charge of a whole new life and mom's hormones are all over the place because of just giving birth. Dads aren't quite sure what to do or how to support women during that process," says Erin Huiatt, founder of Midwest Mom and Baby, a birth education and postpartum service.

The concept of postpartum doulas is fairly new to Iowa and to some, it may seem a bit unnecessary. A postpartum doula helps the mother after the baby is born through the first several weeks with the seemingly instinctual yet difficult tasks like breastfeeding, soothing and regaining her independence. The stuff, moms likely don't plan for.

"Our overall goal as postpartum doulas is to help families feel confident then we know that we`ve done our job," says founder of The Iowa Baby Lady Birth Education and Doula Services, Katie Nyberg.

So, how do you know if you need postpartum help? The doulas say it's simple, look at your circle and the gaps of support.

"What are the role are people like in-laws and friends going to be playing when you come home with baby? Are they focusing on helping you? Or are they going to just be coming over to hang out with the baby and play with the baby," asked Huiatt.

Upwards of 15% of mothers can have lingering baby blues that turn into full-blown postpartum depression or anxiety. The women say doula services can help reduce that chance.

"Every aspect of the new family can benefit from having good quality postpartum support," adds Nyberg.

It's that support, doulas say, mothers should take when talking about their own postpartum health.

"I know of some doctor changing postpartum check-ins at six weeks to now two weeks," says Brus. "That`s really to check in with the mom. I know that they do check in with the baby but it`s more of a mental health check to see how she is recovering."

Postpartum doula services average about $100 per visit.

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