“I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart; you’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful.” ~ William C. Hannan
I have spent the majority of my career working in the clinical and community mental health and addiction field. I have worked both in the United States and Australia within a variety of settings and with people from diverse backgrounds. During the course of my professional career, I have seen the barriers people face when trying to access mainstream mental health and addiction services. Funding cuts, gaps in service provision and bureaucracy lead to disempowerment and declining mental health outcomes.
I witnessed this disempowerment and gap in service provision first hand after the birth of my son. I was fortunate to have a healthy pregnancy and labour however, complications during the delivery meant I experienced a longer than anticipated recovery. Although I expected it would take time to recover, I did not foresee the physical and emotional toll it would take on my health.
My anxiety and depression surfaced soon after my son was born, but I didn’t begin to notice the more serious effects until he was around eight months old. Given my knowledge and carer in the mental health sector, I felt I should be the first to recognize I was struggling and to ask for support. Once I did I realised how difficult it was to access resources for postpartum depression and anxiety. There were limited services designed specifically for the postpartum period and the issue was not discussed as openly as I had hoped. Had I been prepared and provided with this information prior to my son’s birth my situation may have been quite different.
This led me to research doula’s and I quickly discovered the multitude of mental health benefits they can offer mothers and their families. I decided it was time to marry doula work with my professional skills of counselling and coaching and my personal experience of postpartum anxiety and depression. Thus, the synergistic triad of doula, counsellor and coach was born.
It is my mission to change the language we use to discuss maternal mental health and break down the stigma and shame that still surrounds it. I want to encourage and empower women and families to understand the importance of preparing not only for birth and the physical changes to the body, but also postpartum and the significance of the emotional and mental changes that occur. I also want to help mother’s reclaim their glow and celebrate the life changing transition from maiden to mother.
Why Choose Me As Your Doula? As a counsellor, coach, doula and mother, I understand the complex needs of women and their families during this transformative period of their lives. Particularly, the mental and emotional impact this experience has on you and your family. What I Professionally Bring to My Doula Work? I am an experienced registered Mental Health Counsellor. Although, I don't provide therapy in my role as a doula (this package can be offered separately) the skills and knowledge I have acquired influence the way I respond and support my doula clients. This means I can help to reinforce any work you have been doing in therapy with other professionals as well as identify any mental health symptoms and help you navigate the mental health system if required.
I am skilled in working with people and families who have or are experiencing mental health issues, addiction, miscarriage or still birth and those with a combination of medical and mental health issues impacting pregnancy /postpartum. I have worked with individuals in crisis and provided care coordination and care planning. This means I can provide you an additional level of understanding to some of the more complex needs you may have and assist you in navigating different health care systems.
I am a certified reiki practitioner and can offer this service in my role as your doula. This can help provide you with a sense of relaxation, self care and nourishment. What I Personally Bring to My Doula Work? I experienced a less than ideal birth and postpartum experience resulting in physical health issues and postpartum anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. I understand the physical and mental demands that labour and postpartum can place on you and your family.
I also have experienced the impact of not having my own immediate family close by throughout pregnancy and postpartum. I recognise the stress, isolation and loneliness that can occur without this support. My Credentials Master of Science in Mental Health Counselling (USA) Bachelor of Science in Counselling Psychology (USA) Certificate in Forensic Services (USA) Emerging Doula -Angela Gallo's Dynamo Doula Training & Child Birth International IPT-Level A Certified (Interpersonal Therapy) Certificate IV in Training and Assessment Reiki II Certified Womb Keeper- 13th Rite of the Womb
Registration Australian Counselling Association (ACA) CPR Certified
Community Contributions Kindred Clubhouse- Founder & President PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia)
Featured in Mornington Peninsula Kids Magazine Spring 2017: Reclaiming My Glow- One Mother’s Journey Through Postnatal Anxiety and Depression
"If anybody is feeling down, needs advice, where to go what to do I highly recommend you attend any of Afterglow workshops.
We will definitely be going to more. Great work Stefanie . We really need you in our community. Thank you"
"I think Project Afterglow's services are excellent and so needed in our society where we no longer have a large village of support post baby." RF