Just last week a friend of mine invited me to be part of an absolutely amazing community, Pampered Pregger and Beyond. Tiffani Lawton, formerly of Buoy for Perinatal Blues, is the amazing woman behind this site which combines a little bit of everything you would ever need to know about well, Pregnancy and Beyond. In fact, I’m scheduled to do a guest chat on Postpartum Mood Disorders there next week! I just had to share this with you and send some major kudos out to Tiffani who works very hard at motherhood and supporting other women. Thank you, Tiffani, from the bottom of my heart. Your work is amazing!
Tell us a little bit about yourself – who IS Tiffani Lawton?
Personally, I am a mother to four boys, 17, 14, 3 and 2 and a wife to a very supportive husband, my best friend. Professionally, I am an 11 year veteran registered nurse with a background as a mental health nurse and recent practice as an antepartum & postpartum doula, lactation educator and placenta encapsulation specialist. I am the owner of Pampered Pregger & Beyond. http://pamperedpregger.ning.com
Share a bit of your professional experience as related to pregnancy and postpartum. What have you learned on your journey that defines your approach to women during these times in their lives?
No two women are exactly alike. Their needs are so highly individual. My approach to women during their pregnancy and postpartum period is ALL about them. How are they feeling? What are their needs? I have my Mary Poppins bag of resources available to meet their needs and support their feelings. I don’t use a cookie cutter approach.
You ran a blog, Buoy for Perinatal Blues. What led you to start the blog?
The lack of postpartum support in my area, southern NJ, which I soon realized extended far beyond my own borders. I wanted to help increase awareness about Perinatal mood disorders and offer a place for women and families to find educational support.
As a mom, you know that we stay very busy. What do you do to take care of yourself when you have the time to relax?
Read and write. I wish that I could say something very romantic, but I love to curl up in my bed, pull the covers up and read. I also love to write, so I really enjoy working on one of my blogs or books that are in the works.
What do you find the most challenging in motherhood?
For me, the challenge is juggling two entirely different worlds, teens and tots. They both have such very unique needs. The least? My love for them and the pride I feel in their littlest of accomplishments, the ones that define who they are.
Name at least three things that made you smile today.
1) my three year old trying to mimic his 14 year old brother’s past theatrical performance on video.
2) hearing the tots little angelic voices in the background while on the phone with my husband who was home with the tots and getting dinner started!
3) watching my 14 year old play Cruella Deville on the piano while my 2 year old sat next to him, pretending he was playing too.
You are a certified antepartum and postpartum doula. Would you share a bit about what a doula is and how a doula can help a woman and her family during pregnancy and the postpartum period?
An antepartum doula generally assists pregnant women who are classified as high risk, who may or may not be on bedrest, or with medical conditions necessitating the need for help. This assistance includes education and physical support such as bed rest assistance, sibling care, errands, meal preparation, home care, and emotional support.
A postpartum doula assists the new mother, baby, and the family within the first few weeks after the birth of the baby. I like to keep the offer of support open through their first 12 weeks and beyond if needed. Postpartum doulas are knowledgeable about newborn care and breastfeeding. The postpartum doula may offer the following: breastfeeding tips, baby care and advice, household help, sibling care, meal preparation and run errands.
Cesarean Support and Awareness is also very important to you. Would you share some of your experience with cesarean birth as well as any resources for moms and families to turn to for information and support?
I personally have had 4 cesareans because I had pre-eclampsia with all four pregnancies. I did labor for 52 hours with my first, which stalled and resulted in an emergency. I was not permitted to VBAC with my second and I was emotionally devastated. The third cesarean was at 37 weeks because my kidneys could not bear the load and the 4th was scheduled due to complications. The fourth nearly killed me. The incision became infected and then took 8 months to completely heal after multiple rounds of heavy duty IV antibiotics on a daily basis. Because of the delayed healing and decreased mobility, I developed a pulmonary embolism which is a blood clot in the lung. I am lucky they caught it in time or my children would have all been left with out a mother.
Moms and families seeking support can look for a local ICAN Chapter in their area. ICAN, International Cesarean Awareness Network, is a great resource and I learned so much from them. I started a chapter in my area, but have since changed it to Cesarean Society within Pampered Pregger & Beyond. Cesarean Society offers an online educational and supportive resource for mothers on their journey through recovery. The support group features monthly chats with guest chatters, ongoing forum discussions, online book club, and coming in 2009 will feature telesupport groups and talk radio.
Overall, Awareness, Support, and Education for women during the pregnancy and postpartum period has improved drastically over the past few years. In your opinion, what obstacles do we still face and what can the average mom do to improve her own experience during the these times in her life?
I agree, awareness, support and education has greatly improved, all of which empower women to be their own advocates. Knowledge is power. However, obstacles do remain. Midwifery needs to come to the forefront again and be the first professional that prenatal women seek. All pregnant women should watch The Business of Being Born. An insightful article, A Birthing Option To Be Mirrored, further explains how obstacles can be removed.
The Mother’s Act needs to get passed into law which will further increase awareness and professional education for doctors and nurses. If the professionals respond at all, all too often the OB or the GP will give out an anti-depressant to a new mother complaining of depression and it may not be the appropriate medication for her. They are not experts in mental health. I would love to see a mental health nurse practitioner be connected to every OB, so that when a mother expresses her concerns, the OB can refer that mother to the right person. The right person will help the new mother explore a variety of therapeutic options, not just medicinal.
Last but not least, you have an opportunity to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) one piece of advice. What would you say?
Postpartum planning! A postpartum plan is so very important and the plan will change with each new baby as the circumstances have changed. Informative article entitled, Are you Prepared ? is a great resource.