Unpacking the Postpartum Experience: What Do New Parents Need?

The care you receive after birth is just as important as during your pregnancy. Meet doctors, midwives, doulas, lactation consultants and new parents who share what the postpartum period is really like and how to find the support and care you need.

  • What good postpartum care looks like.
  • The importance of follow-up care after birth.
  • How to build up a network of support for the postpartum period.
  • How to get help for depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
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Terms in this Chapter

an inflamed and infected area on the skin, inside the body or outside the body. The area or tissue may be painful and may be filled with pus.

Advocate (verb)

to speak up or ask questions on behalf of yourself or someone else


a trained professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support before, during and shortly after birth (birth doula) or in the postpartum period (postpartum doula). Doulas with full-spectrum training may also support people during and after pregnancy loss or abortion. Doulas do not have medical training, are not medically licensed, and do not provide medical advice.


happening during pregnancy or related to pregnancy


making milk in the breasts, and/or feeding a baby from the chest.


how a baby attaches to the nipple of the breast for feeding


a licensed healthcare professional trained to provide reproductive and primary care including care during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Midwives specialize in low-risk pregnancies and well-person care, and may collaborate with physicians and other healthcare providers in the care of people who need advanced medical care or surgery.


illness, injury, or poor health


a bodily response to maintain health or promote normal function


after childbirth


a trained healthcare professional who diagnoses patients and provides treatment. Includes doctors, midwives, nurse practitioners, and physicians assistants.

Support people

anyone in the pregnant person’s life whose purpose is to physically or emotionally support them

Birthing person

the person who will give birth to the baby. See also birthing person; pregnant person


the area between the vagina and the anus

Shared decision making

when a provider and a patient work together to make a health care decision that is best for the patient. The optimal decision takes into account evidence-based information about options, the provider’s knowledge and experience, and the patient’s values and preferences.

Sitz bath

a bathing system for healing and cleansing after vaginal birth. Helps reduce swelling and soreness and keep any stitches clean.

Skin-to-skin contact

a practice where the newborn baby is dried and placed on the birthing individual’s chest right after labor, without clothing or a blanket in-between