What’s so hard about having a newborn? It eats and sleeps and really isn’t that much work. Especially if this is your first- it’s not like you have anything else to do, and everything you need to know can be found in a book. HA! If only it were that simple!
Many new moms have a big trepidation about asking for and accepting help after they bring their baby home. They don't want to seem lazy or needy, but letting their body heal and bonding with their baby are very important to building their confidence as a mother. Friends and family can be great, but that’s not an option for every family, and even if you are blessed to have helping hands all around you, it may not be what you need at the time you need it. That’s where a postpartum doula comes in.
I had my children 2 ½ years apart. My daughter was old enough to get me a diaper for the baby if I asked her to, so I thought transitioning from 1 to 2 would be a breeze: oh boy I was wrong! It never failed that they would both want or need me at the same moment and I couldn't do two things at once. I felt terrible ignoring one to take care of the other. I was overwhelmed and I didn't know where to turn. When my husband was home in the evening, everything was smooth as silk, but that was only about 1/3 of my day!
My mom had my brother and I 18 months apart and was a single mother soon after that: she had no sympathy for my complaints. I felt so judged when I talked to her about my daily struggles. That was when a friend told me about postpartum doulas. She had hired one after bringing her twins home and raved about the experience. I was hesitant at first, but decided to go ahead and hire a postpartum doula anyway. There’s something to be said for non-biased, compassionate care that addresses a mom’s emotional, physical and psychological needs as she transitions into motherhood.
I'm so glad I hired a postpartum doula for those first few tough weeks after we came home from the hospital. She was a great companion and helping hand. She listened when I needed to vent, and made suggestions about how to better the situation. I was able to shower alone with no one yelling or crying for my attention. She went with me to the grocery store, which was terrifying to do alone. I tell all my pregnant friends why they need a postpartum doula as well-it saved my sanity and made me a better mom!
What is a Postpartum Doula?
Postpartum doulas assist families who are bringing home a new baby. They facilitate family bonding and adaptation through education, companionship and nonjudgmental support. They help with newborn care, meal preparation and light household tidying.
What affects family bonding and adaptation?
· Parental fatigue
· Previous experience with a newborn
· Parental expectations of a newborn
· Knowledge of and confidence in providing for newborn needs
· Temperament of a newborn
· Temperament of parents
· Age of parents
· Available support system
· Unexpected events
Who would benefit from a postpartum doula?
· Every mom bringing home a new baby, even in cases of adoption or surrogacy
· Families looking for a smoother transition during the postpartum period
· First time mothers who need additional support transitioning into motherhood
· Families with multiples
· Families with limited or no family and friend support
· Families with older children for new sibling transition
· Women recovering from cesarean, complicated birth or prolonged bed rest during pregnancy
The nice thing about most postpartum doulas is their ability to tailor what they do to suit their client’s needs. For some people, it’s more hands on and tactical – positioning support for breastfeeding, assisting with bathing the baby, preparing meals for mom, helping siblings with the transition to big brother or big sister. For others, it’s more emotional support—reassuring mom that she’s tending to baby properly, allowing her to go through the hormonal rollercoaster after birth, answering questions about caring for herself with a newborn. When you meet with a postpartum doula, talk about our expectations for how she can best help you and have an open dialog about what types of support will be best for your family.
The most important thing you can do after bringing home a new baby is bonding, recovering and enjoying, and the support of a postpartum doula is meant to allow you to do just that! It’s not lazy, it’s smart.