You’ve spent countless hours researching everything about birth and deciding on your preferences. You’ve given thoughtful consideration to your provider, birthing location, and what you want to happen immediately after your baby is born. What are you going to do when you get home? You will be taking care of your new baby, but who is going to take care of you? Have you given any thought to your postpartum plan?
What is a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula provides physical, educational, and emotional support to a woman and her family in the postpartum period. You will be taken care of while you take care of your new baby (or babies). Postpartum doulas can work during the day or overnight; the support she offers will depend on your needs.
What does a postpartum doula do?
When we are with a client, we want to make their day easier. Some of the tasks we can help new mothers with include:
- Accompany you and your baby to your doctor’s appointments
- Or stay home with the baby if you don’t want to bring her out yet
- Prepare nutritious meals (and maybe a sweet treat!)
- Spend time with the baby while you get uninterrupted time with your older child
- Keep your older child occupied while you nurse or bond with the baby
- Watch your baby and do some laundry while you catch up on sleep.
- Show you how to use your breast pump and educate you on safe milk handling and storage (Our postpartum doulas are also lactation counselors)
- Demonstrate safe babywearing in your carrier
- Address birth announcements
- Provide referrals for providers in the community (photographers, therapists, doctors, etc)
Overnight support is different. Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, sleep is likely to be at a minimum with a new baby. To allow our clients get the most rest possible with a new baby, we can:
- Bring your baby to you to nurse. After your baby is fed you can go right to sleep while we change and swaddle your baby and settle her back to sleep. We can do this every feeding or alternate with a feeding of expressed milk or formula, so you can pump and get back to sleep.
- Completely take over the care of your baby so you can sleep through the night. This option is possible for women who are either exclusively formula feeding or who have pumped during the day to build up a stash of expressed milk.
In the morning before we leave we can either discuss how your baby did overnight or we can slip out quietly so you can get a little extra sleep, leaving a detailed log of your baby’s night.
It is important for babies to learn that night time is a quiet time for resting. With the exception of washing and preparing pump parts and bottles from that shift, work around the house (including cooking and laundry) is not done.
How is a postpartum doula different than having help from family?
It is not always possible for family to help out after the arrival of a new baby. Not everyone has family who lives close, who can take off from work, or has space for family to move in and help. I’ve heard many new moms say they weren’t comfortable asking their family to cook or do laundry for them. Even if family is able to help, many women feel uncomfortable asking their family to stay overnight and wake up with the baby while they sleep.
Your postpartum doula is a trained professional, meaning they are knowledgeable about babies and the postpartum period, and current on safety recommendations. Working with many families allows your postpartum doula to offer varied solutions to problems you may encounter.
Sometimes family members can’t come visit after you’ve had your baby, but they want to help. We’ve had many clients receive the “gift of sleep” from their family members through Blissful Birthing’s Registry. This is especially popular among second time moms who have all the material items they need for their second child.
I don’t want my family to feel like I’ve replaced them with a “stranger”
When family comes to visit you and your new baby, they can spend time with the two of you without feeling like they should help around the house. They can spend time holding the baby while you take a nap and your postpartum doula prepares dinner or does a load of laundry – doesn’t that sound ideal?
What should I include in my postpartum plan?
Think of what your baby’s first two months of life would look like in an ideal world. Maybe you would be well rested, have meals prepared that you can reheat so you can still enjoy family dinners without the hassle, not have an endless pile of laundry, breastfeed without obstacles. These are all things a postpartum doula can help you achieve!
Blissful Birthing provides labor and postpartum doula services, and lactation support, throughout Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties, and Greenich, CT. For more information on postpartum support, click here.
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