So you’re daydreaming about that special day when you’re finally going to meet your baby. Then it dawns on you: what are you going to do once you’ve birthed your baby? Then what?!
If you’re anything like I was, there will be many questions swirling through your brain about your new baby, your own recovery and probably another thousand things to boot.
If you feel you may like some support after the birth of your baby, you may want to seek the services of a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula helps you once your baby is born, usually by coming to your home several days after the birth (when your milk starts to come in), and/or whenever you need her in that ‘fourth trimester’ to offer you emotional, informational and practical support. A postpartum doula may:
- help with breastfeeding and infant feeding
- discuss your birth with you
- offer suggestions for physical and emotional recovery from birth
- answer questions about newborn care
- offer insights into infant behavior and issues such as sleeping
- help with light housework
- give you an opportunity to have a shower all by yourself 🙂
- bring you a meal or coordinate a meal train for you
- run errands for you
- help you care for your other children (if any)
- suggest ways to ease the transition for an older sibling
- recommend further resources for postpartum support (such as ICAN, or breastfeeding or mommy-baby groups, etc)
- offer companionship and non-judgmental support
- and provide whatever other help you may need.
The goal of a postpartum doula is to nurture you, as the new parents, into your new roles. This postpartum period is one of important bonding and adjustment for each and every member of the family. A doula can help you at this time by offering evidence-based information on issues from infant soothing to coping skills for new parents. As a postpartum doula, my ultimate objective is to help you find and trust the parent within.
What about dad?
A postpartum doula is available for both the mom and dad. I’ve been called by new dads with breastfeeding questions and other concerns and I think that’s great! It’s important to be involved from day one and to feel comfortable reaching out to someone when you’re not sure of the answer. Believe me, even with four children and a decade of parenting experience, I don’t know all the answers and I never will, but I have learned to trust my instinct more, know where to ask questions so I can get a variety of input and then decide for myself what will work best for my family, and accept that although I do the best I can with what I know at the time, I will make mistakes. Dads are obviously an integral part of the family and need support, just like mom does. It takes a good strong dad to ask for support!
The Gift of a Doula Visit
Postpartum doulas often charge by the hour or shift of hours. Each one may differ a bit in the range of services she offers. Generally speaking, I’ve found postpartum doula rates often fall in the $25-$40 per hour range.
A visit or two from a postpartum doula, by the way, is a truly wonderful gift to give a new mom! It can be so much more meaningful and helpful to her than another baby outfit or material item that does not nurture the mother’s emotional attachment to her baby. A postpartum doula helps tend to the postpartum woman’s emotional self, helps her learn to trust her new maternal instinct, and guides her through those many new mom questions as she gets to know her child. This is a gift that lasts much longer than anything geared to baby’s material needs.
Although a postpartum doula offers many services, her primary focus is education. We help partners and siblings “mother the mother” in order to help her heal. She must be kept fed, hydrated and comfortable! And she must be allowed plenty of time for bonding and resting in order to recover fully and well from pregnancy and birth. Improved mother/infant bonding leads to a more content baby and that helps lay a solid foundation for later parenting success. Important infant care skills and proven methods for keeping your child healthy, safe, and happy are part of the help doulas can offer.
A rested, healthier new mommy is a happier mommy, and that in turn creates an optimal environment in which your newborn can grow and thrive.
In our society, we tend to rush the postpartum period, but it’s really best to slow it down. This a crucial time of transformation in your life and the baby’s life. Some days you will feel blissful and thrilled and brought to tears by the sheer joy of gazing at your precious newborn. Some moments may seem long, and some days may feel like years, but generally babyhood will flash by. Plan now for your postpartum period so your stress is minimized and your relaxation is maximized. Check out this post on freezing meals for the postpartum period so you can be nourished with healthy homemade meals for weeks without having to cook in that time. Arrange for helping with cleaning and laundry. Plan now.
If you hired a postpartum doula, what was the biggest help she gave you?