What happens to a mother after she gives birth? Even after 35 years or working professionally with birthing women and their partners, this question continues to fascinate me. Once a mother gives birth it seems that all eyes turn to the baby, and she becomes almost invisible. Throughout her pregnancy she was the center of attention, glorified and pampered by the whole range of pregnancy activities that culminate on the day the baby is born. Then she seems to fade from view, dropping into the background as the baby dominates everyone’s attention.
Why is it that we celebrate the pregnant woman and then seem to forget her after she delivers the baby? When this happens it is to the detriment of the new mother whose identity is going through a metamorphosis.
THE POSTPARTUM PERIOD
Recognizing this phenomenon, I have been inspired to work with groups of new mothers as a postpartum group facilitator and for 20 years I provided a postpartum exercise class for mothers and babies. I listened to women talk about their experiences and share their knowledge and challenges with each other. One mother described the exercise class as “a sanctuary—a mirage of a waterfall in the desert of new motherhood”.
I have also noticed that in childbirth education classes prospective parents can’t take in very much information about what happens after the baby is born. The impending birth looms so large that they just want to get through that experience, and cannot absorb the details of what will happen after birth. I would advise my clients to take notes about the postpartum period because this knowledge is something they will want to have once the birth is done. Yet, this advice seems to go in one ear and out the other, unprocessed.
The seeds for writing a book on the postnatal experience were planted with these classes. I wanted to provide the information and resources that parents cannot receive during the pregnancy stage, and to restore the focus of attention back to the mother’s experience.
I can count on less than one hand the number of books ever written about this pivotal time. My book in progress, The Handbook for the Postnatal Period, is a mother-focused practical guide for managing, and maybe mastering, life after birth. The key role of the mother’s partner during this time is also a significant part of the book.
AN APP IS BORN
When my daughter, Mariel Sands, had a baby we talked about the need for a book like this as she navigated the waters of new motherhood. Once she emerged from her own journey of the fourth trimester, she said, “You know that book you’re writing? I want to create an app for it.” And Digital Doula, a postnatal app, was born. What a 21st century idea for this new generation of women becoming mothers!
While some also read books, most contemporary childbearing women are getting their information from the internet. Digital Doula is a chance to provide valuable knowledge and resources to new mothers that is available at any time of day and night. It synthesizes the work I have done for decades as a childbirth educator with my more recent work as an academic health researcher, and presents it in a style that is user friendly and empathetic.
Digital Doula was launched in November 2013 as a postnatal app through the Apple Store, and will soon be available for Android and other mobile devices.
This is the first app of its kind, and it thrills me that women will have this at their disposal when they need it. The main contents of the app include an Introduction plus five Empowering Chapters :
The Fourth Trimester
The Power of Hormones
Bonding and Attachment
Nurturing the Couple Relationship
There are also Hot Topics: related articles, videos and other bits of news that have relevance for new parents and this section is continually updated. We are now preparing to increase the number of chapters to enhance the user experience, including FAQs and Postpartum 101.
An exciting aspect of this material is the energy healing components that are included: each chapter finishes with an energy medicine application for the content that is being covered. For example, The Fourth Trimester ends with the Daily Energy Routine, a set of movements and actions—including the Zip-up and Lock, Hook-up, and Heaven Rushing In—that help to harmonize and balance one’s energy flow. After so many years as a birth professional, it’s refreshing and invigorating to integrate this new material.
Please help me to spread the word to new mothers that there is an app that can help them through the transition to parenthood in a positive and powerful way. It’s Digital Doula and it’s for sale at the Apple Store now under Health and Fitness.
Dr Diane Speier, PhD, was the founder and director of The Family Tree Center for Parents in New York before immigrating to the UK. A certified childbirth educator and doula since 1978, Diane is also a birth psychologist healing birth-related issues.
Digital Doula is the postnatal app co-created with her daughter, Mariel Sands.