Staff & Survivor Spotlight
By Sultana Karim, MA, LCPC, LPC, CCTP
Director of Community Resources, Postpartum Support Virginia

During the second half of my pregnancy, I immersed myself in all things pregnancy and motherhood. I took prenatal yoga and fitness classes, childbirth education classes, saw a lactation consultant for education about breastfeeding, participated in La Leche League meetings, and read books about pregnancy and postpartum. I was encouraged by the La Leche League leader to attend PSVa’s support group, so I did. I learned about creating and developing a support system as a part of my postpartum plan.

Months later, I returned to PSVa’s support group because I struggled with my traumatic birth experience. There were so many feelings I had during my childbirth experience. They started out a good as it can get when being in labor and trying ride the waves of contractions in a tub, on the toilet, in the shower, on the bed, and on all four on the bathroom floor in the birth center. Then, the rush of feelings that were involved when bring my daughter into this world and finally meeting her. Attempting to deliver the placenta is where everything changed. Even though I planned for emergency situations in my birth plan, I did not come to terms with the possibly of it happening. I hemorrhaged and the placenta remained retained. I had an emergency transfer to hospital, and I was immediately sent into surgery to remove my placenta. Despite their efforts to medicate me while in surgery, I experienced so much pain when the doctor removed my placenta and sewed my second-degree tear. To add another layer of trauma, I struggled with nursing my daughter who was later admitted into the NICU. The feelings of isolation and loneliness kicked in and the fact that if my midwives did not respond as fast as they did to call an ambulance, this would have been a different story. On the day of discharge, I met with the OB doctor who performed surgery on me. He informed me that they were not sure if I was even going to make it, but somehow, I did.

I attended PSVa’s support groups for about 5 months before I decided to stop attending because I felt better due to the combinations of social support in groups (PSVa’s support group, baby café group, la leche league meetings), taking natural remedies (since I chose not to take medication), fitness classes through fit4mom, and individual counseling sessions. About 10 months postpartum, I contacted PSVa about being a social support leader. Afterwards, I attended the PSVa’s Social Support Training, PSI and 2020 Mom training on Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders, and observed two support groups. In December 2019, I co-facilitated my first support group. Additionally, I attended in the Woodbridge Maternal Mental Health Coalition Meetings with my daughter in a baby carrier. Not too long afterwards, I was offered the Professional Resource Manager position at Postpartum Support Virginia in March 2020. By August 2020, I was promoted to Director of Community Resources. I continue to provide support for perinatal persons by co-leading the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies: A Group for Women of Color, educate allied professionals, create partnerships, and so much more.

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