How Can a Postpartum Doula Help Me?
Postpartum doulas are specifically trained to support the mother during the postpartum phase (sometimes called the 4th trimester). They have expertise in all-things postpartum, like normal infant development and behavior, breastfeeding, emotional support for mothers and families, healthy eating habits, and so much more. You may wonder if you “qualify” for postpartum doula support. The good news is: yes! All new mothers deserve supportive care, and whether this is your first baby (congratulations!) or your eleventh baby (congratulations!), postpartum doula support can help you during this transitional phase in your life.
Many families are shocked by the challenges the first baby brings. Your family unit, which up until now likely involved just you and your partner, has to make room for a third member. The transition, while overwhelmingly positive for most, can add emotional distress to a couple who is already physically exhausted. The logistics of family life and child care have not yet been smoothed out, and many couples find themselves stressed and anxious in their new roles. A postpartum doula can help ease this transition. A postpartum doula will happily listen while a new mother processes her birth story (a life changing experience!). She can teach the partner how to care for the mother and baby in an empathetic way. She can help the mother learn and practice self care, ensuring the mother is eating and sleeping sufficiently, and able to bathe and exercise to her desire. Infants are demanding, which can fluster over tired parents, but a postpartum doula will bring her calm, confident demeanor into the house and soon the new parents will be at ease with their own parenting abilities. Postpartum doulas are also experts of normal - and they can help with the common issues that may arise with new babies.
Second (or Third, or Eleventh!) Baby
By now the family is comfortable with new baby care, and the framework of the family has already made space for additional children. But more children means more work for parents! The logistics of an added baby are challenging, and a postpartum doula (while not a nanny), can help with older children, can help with basic household chores, prepare food and snacks, and allow the new parents a way strengthen bonds with their children on an individual level. She will also perform her other duties (emotional support, ensuring the mother is taken care of, help with breastfeeding questions, etc.). It seems that the more children a family has, the more value the postpartum doula brings to them!
Having a postpartum doula to help with twins can be a sanity-saver for new parents! Simply having an extra set of hands available can be of help, but to include in the supportive care, expertise, calm, and confidence a doula brings can take a family that would simply survive the newborn period into a family that thrives in it! Mothers, especially, will need supportive and practical care to feed, burp, diaper, bathe two (or more!) infants.
C-section birth recovery can take longer than vaginal birth recovery, and is associated with more health complications for the mother and baby (1). Having a postpartum doula can help the mother emotionally to sort through any feelings she has about the birth. The postpartum doula can also be of practical support, as many mothers are given post-op restrictions and guidelines to follow.
Having a baby prematurely can cause an overwhelming amount of stress for new parents. The concerns are intense and complex (2): health issues, NICU stays, low birth weight, financial strain, feeding difficulties, and general worry over the future well being of the baby can wear a family down very quickly. A postpartum doula can offer her educated support, her community connections for resources, and practical help during this time.
No matter what your circumstance, as a new parent you deserve the very best care. The more well cared for, supported, and helped you are, the better you can care for, support, and help your new baby and growing family. So don’t hesitate to find a postpartum doula, and help your family thrive in the 4th trimester!
Jessica Turner is a prenatal & postpartum yoga teacher, and a professional birth & postpartum doula living in Midlothian, Virginia with her amazing husband and energetic sons. She believes peaceful mamas create peaceful families, peaceful communities, and a more peaceful world. Visit her website: www.peacefulprenatal.com for more information on classes and services.