In a recent conversation with a first-time expectant mama, the topic of what I do came up and she was very curious about postpartum doula work. She asked questions like:
- Why would I want a postpartum doula?
- Isn't it weird to have a stranger in your home helping with chores and running errands for you?
- Do mothers have to entertain the doula while she's there the whole time?
- And she closed with "Well, that's all good and well for other women, but to me, it sounds like a bit of a cop out so that you don't have to get back to regular life after your baby is born."
Touche, First-time Expectant Mama, touche. However, I don't think that having a postpartum doula is a cop out at all. In fact, there's ample research that shows that mothers who have some sort of consistent help at home once their baby arrives, are generally healthier, happier and in a better mental state than mothers who don't receive such care. The postpartum period is roughly the first three or four months after a baby is born and my goodness, so much happens in such a short time frame that mamas could use all the help that they can get just to keep their heads above water! And listen, I think this kind of care is invaluable in the entire first year of a baby's life so there's no shame in reaching out when your baby is four months, six months, even eleven and a half months old!
I like lists (as you can probably tell from other posts) and so here's ten reasons, in no particular order, of why I think every mama might want a Postpartum and Infant Care Doula.
- Before we get too deep into the list, the bottom line is that you, Mama, DESERVE the care, support and advice of a Postpartum and Infant Care Doula. You've just incubated a person for the better part of a year and then you gave birth to him or her. That's a huuuuuge deal! Its not too much to ask for you to now receive some love and attention as you adjust to where you just were and what lies ahead of you now as a mother!
- Not only do mamas need care after birth, but so do their families. Partners, relatives who live in the home with them and older children all have a lot of adjusting to do when Baby arrives and a PPICD can help ease that transition a bit and provide nurturing support to everyone.
- No matter how you choose to feed your newborn, it takes up a lot of your time and sometimes, it can be hard to remember to feed yourself! In comes the PPICD who will lovingly remind you to stay hydrated and eat meals and snacks throughout the day. She'll probably prepare said meals and snacks for you and help in feeding the babe.
- Your doula is an expert in options. Whether you're trying to decide on the best baby gear to purchase or the parenting style that feels best for your family, your doula is there with answers and a host of ideas for you to choose from.
- Having a new baby and trying to acclimate to how someone so tiny can change your world in such a huge way can feel isolating and lonely for some women. Your doula will be connected in the community and will help you get plugged in with other moms, play groups, even healthcare practitioners. She can help you find a chiropractor, massage therapist, counselor, or naturopath to help you create the postpartum care team that's just right for you.
- There are some physical no-no's after you give birth, whether vaginally or by cesarean, and few women allow their bodies adequate time to rest, recover and heal. Your doula will run up and down the stairs to get items for the baby or she'll carry the heavy laundry basket downstairs for you. She will run your errands and bring in all the groceries, she'll move the bulky totes of baby gear hand-me-downs to be sorted and she will do light housework so that you don't have to fuss with all the normal household chores.
- While PPICDs typically aren't licensed to officially diagnose postpartum mood disorders, they are trained quite a bit in how to spot red flags. They will nonjudgmentally and tactfully help you and your loved ones get connected with professionals who can help you navigate through.
- Let's face it: Sleep changes once Baby arrives. You don't get enough of it, it is often interrupted by one thing (or person) or another, you might become a very light sleeper because you're concerned about every little peep that Baby makes. Your doula is a trusted extra set of hands that can care for baby while you nap and if you need it, she can provide overnight support so that you can get a decent night of rest. She can bring the baby in to you whenever it's time to eat if you want/need to be part of that and once that's done, she can work to get Baby back to sleep. Imagine it: There could be someone in your home who is there - if for no other reason - than to give you the freedom to sleep whenever you want. Yes, please!
- You're probably familiar with giving young children time outs, but adults can benefit from them too. Maybe your "time out" is excusing yourself to another part of the house while Baby cries, knowing that your doula is more than up to the challenge and will keep your baby safe while caring for him/her. Or maybe you just really miss sitting in a coffee shop with a good book. You've got someone to watch your babe while you escape for an afternoon! Sometimes the time out looks like the most basic of self-care such as taking a nice, long shower or getting to do your hair make up for the first time since birth. You decide what it is that will fill you up and work with your doula to carve out space and time to make that happen.
- Your doula is the perfect listening ear or shoulder to cry on as she offers unbiased support. There's a lot required to take of a newborn baby, but the mother needs to be cared for too.
For soon-to-be or first-time mothers out there, I don't mean for this post to make motherhood sound daunting or for this list to be a cause of stress for you. I believe in being honest about stuff though and had someone given me the head's up about even half of the things on this list, I think my debut as the mother of my children might have gone a little smoother.
Have questions about hiring me as your Postpartum and Infant Care Doula? Ask away, I'd be more than happy to help you get the assistance that you most need and desire!