Maybe you've heard of a postpartum doula, or maybe you haven't. It's still not a common concept on the Eastern Shore, but in other areas (like shared in this article), women are beginning to see the value in hiring help for those first few days, weeks, and months after their baby is born.
If you're pregnant with your first baby, it's hard to envision what a postpartum doula could do to benefit your family that you couldn't really do yourself. If you've already had a baby, you get it. Newborn stuff is tough. Many women feel like they don't know if they're doing everything right, if baby is getting enough to eat, getting enough sleep, crying a normal amount, pooping and peeing a normal amount, and why is it awake so much at night and not during the day, and why do my nipples hurt SO bad, and why is everyone coming over to bring me baby clothes and hold my baby while I'm exhausted, and why isn't anyone noticing the huge pile of dirty dishes, and gosh I wish they had brought lunch because I haven't eaten much since yesterday, and I certainly hope they don't notice that I haven't brushed my teeth and I smell like spit up.
A postpartum doula? They are like angels. They fly in at the perfect time, get you settled with whatever you need, and get to work. They are the experts of all experts on everything postpartum and baby. They can help you get a crying baby soothed all while making you a sandwich and showing you the best baby swaddle.
Below is a real example of A Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula...
8am: The shift starts and the doula shows up right on time to the front door. She gently knocks and lets herself in, as she's been asked to since mama doesn't want to get up with a sleeping baby to get the door.
8:10am: It's mama's first day home alone with baby after her partner has gone back to work. She's relieved that she doesn't have to do the first day all alone. The doula asks if she can make her something to eat for breakfast. Mama wants oatmeal!
8:30am: The oatmeal is warm and delicious, the kitchen is cleaned, and mama is having breakfast in her pajamas while baby is still asleep. While she eats, the doula sits with her and they talk about how last night went and how mama and baby were basically up all night on and off while baby struggled to feed and get back to sleep.
9am: They make a plan for mama to get some rest during the day so that she can have some energy in case the next night doesn't go so well. The doula runs a bath for mama and baby to take together (at the mother's request). They nurse in the bathtub and baby seems happy and alert now. The mom is grateful that her doula is there, because it's actually quite difficult to get in and out of a bathtub holding a newborn while you're both all wet! The doula wraps baby up in a towel and grabs a clean diaper and and footie pajamas while the mom gets dried and dressed.
9:30am: Mama settles into bed with a white noise machine and doula promises to wake her if baby gets fussy. Mama gives the doula permission to wrap baby up in her Moby wrap to keep her happy while the doula gets a few things done around the house. The doula is a pro at the Moby, so in no time, baby is snuggled up safely, they turn some music on, and get to work.
11am (1.5 hours later): Baby has been asleep for about an hour in the Moby, dinner is prepped for that evening, the doula unpacked all of the baby gifts that were received in the last two weeks and threw the new clothes in the washer to be cleaned before wearing. Mama wakes, comes out of her room in her clean clothes, well rested, and is happy to see that there aren't a multitude of gift bags and tissue paper laying all over the living room floor anymore.
11:30am: Baby wakes and the doula takes her out of the wrap and brings her to her mama. The doula sets mama up with an iced tea, some chips and hummus, and a lactation cookie on the couch so she can nurse the baby.
11:45am: Mama and doula sit on the couch together snacking and chatting about how her birth experience was. Mama comments on how nice it is to have someone to talk to about it who doesn't carry judgments about her decision to get an epidural. She said she is a little nervous to share it with some of her friends who birthed without pain meds. They talk about how mama is feeling physically, and she asks the doula if it's normal to still have some bleeding after two weeks. The doula assures her that all of her physical symptoms seem perfectly normal for this stage of postpartum. The mom laughs that she feels totally comfortable talking about her vaginal bleeding and nipple soreness with someone she's only met once!
12:30pm: Mama asks her doula if she can help her with a swaddle before laying the sleeping baby girl down. The doula shows her favorite swaddle and gently lays her down in the bassinet in the living room. The doula turns "Parenthood" on Netflix on Season 1, Episode 1 because this mama has never seen it before! #insanity. The doula grabs all of the veggies, fajita spices, and chicken that she prepped from this morning and throws it into the Crockpot so it will be ready around 5:30pm tonight for dinner. She cleans up the kitchen from lunch and dinner prep and switches the laundry to the dryer.
1:15pm: Baby is awake and seriously screaming. Mama tries to nurse her, but she's too upset to settle down and latch. Mama walks her up and down the halls for what seems like forever, and just when she's about to lose it, the doula asks if she can try something. The doula shows mama about the 5 S's from the Happiest Baby on the Block book. The doula quickly swaddles baby back up, cradles her on her side in her arms, walks to the bedroom where it's darker, cooler, and turns the white noise machine back on. She "shhhhh"s gently and close to the baby's ear, and swings the baby back and forth while gently patting her bum. After a few moments, the baby settles down, the new mom's jaw drops (naturally), and they get set up in the bed to nurse again. The doula turns the TV on in the bedroom to pick up where they left off in Parenthood.
1:45pm: The doula folds the new baby clothes from the dryer, places them in the dresser in the nursery, and gets mama a new glass of water, a chocolate bar, and some leftover pasta salad in a bowl and brings it to her in bed while they're still nursing.
2pm: Dad promised to come home from work early on his first day. Just as he is walking in the door, the doula is gathering her things to head home. She says she'll see them the next morning at 8am and promises to teach mama all about how to wrap that baby in the Moby wrap!
Seriously. Postpartum doulas are that awesome. If you're expecting, now is the best time to have a free consultation with a postpartum doula to see what they can offer you. If you're already home with a baby of any age and feel like you could really use some extra help, reassurance, and company, give us a call and we'll be there!