Sandra Wood, NP, CNM, PMHNP, certified nurse-midwife and psychiatric nurse practitioner and clinical instructor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
(MARCH 1, 2023) In a Seven Days article about Washington County’s free doula services, Certified Nurse-Midwife and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Sandra Wood, NP, CNM, PMHNP, clinical instructor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, told reporter Alison Novak she sees a strong connection between doula care and positive mental health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum women.
Pregnancy and new parenthood are moments of great change that for many can lead to mental health challenges. Since COVID-19, the share of pregnant and postpartum Vermonters showing symptoms of depression and anxiety has ticked upward to around 25 percent, according to state health statistics. Washington County Mental Health Services is employing federal funds to provide doulas — the nonclinical birth workers who for decades have tended to expectant parents — based on research findings that access to a doula has been shown to improve physical and mental health outcomes for those giving birth. Doulas are certified through training programs to provide emotional and physical support to women and to connect them with community resources.
Wood, who screens and treats women for perinatal anxiety and mood disorders, said doulas can play an important role in helping people navigate the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood, connecting them with information, and providing emotional support. (Wood is not connected to the Doula Project.)
Health officials say the services provided by Washington County’s Doula Project — from helping expecting families craft a birth plan to caring for newborns so parents can catch up on sleep — could be a model for perinatal care elsewhere in the state.
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