The following is a student blog post by a Meg Sargent
Why Hire a Postpartum Doula?
Most people have heard of a Birth Doula, a support person for mama and her partner during the labor and delivery process. Most people have heard about the benefits of a Birth Doula as well; less medical interventions, smoother delivery, A smaller cesarean rate.
Less well know is the Postpartum Doula. Why hire someone after the baby is born, after you come home from the hospital? The sacredness of the postpartum period is lost in western culture. We expect mamas to go back to work 3-6 weeks postpartum, and be back to “her old self” by then as well. I would argue that “her old self” no longer exists, but that is another article altogether.
In many other cultures there are practices in place that allow the new mother to acclimate to her new baby. In some cultures a mother has a 40 day rest period where she doesn’t leave her “nest” or her baby. This is a sacred space in her home that is respected by all and only certain family members and caregivers can enter that space. In parts of the world the nuclear family is unheard of and many generations live in the same house or very close together, which means the new mother has plenty of family, and many generations within that family to help and support her in that special postpartum time.
Here in America we don’t have anything like that in place. Once a mama goes home from the hospital, her next checkup is six weeks postpartum. Six weeks. Yes she is able to call her doctor with any concerns, but other than maybe a few visits with a lactation consultant, and some family coming over or bringing meals there is not a lot of support for a new mother(Midwiferytoday.com).
A Postpartum Doula is there for the mother for that time postpartum. There for support, encouragement, and so that mama can bond with her new baby. A Postpartum Doula is trained in common postpartum ailments and how to alleviate them, and frequently in natural remedies for those ailments, . They are also trained in breastfeeding support and infant care, which includes bathing, swaddling, cord care and diapering. They support and help mamas with their emotional journey as well, listening to her needs and worries, and helping to process the birth experience. Postpartum Doulas do not give medical advice, as they are not medical professionals, but mothers can talk to them about their concerns and questions (Birthartsinternational.com). Some other things that a postpartum doula can do are: Meal prep/cooking, some housekeeping(laundry, dishes, mopping etc), and light childcare. This list is not all encompassing of what a postpartum Doula Will do, you will find that is varies from person to person.
A lot of time, when family or friends come over, they have the mindset of “I’ll hold the baby so you can cook/clean/do laundry”. A postpartum doula is there for the mother, doing those things so she can hold and bond with her baby, or decide to let family hold the baby while she rests. Too many mamas have told me “I never knew how tired I’d be” or “I never knew how stressful it would be” “No one told me how sore I’d be”. Rest during the postpartum period is extremely important. Stress during the postpartum period is a contributing factor to postpartum depression and anxiety, having someone there to talk to and who will do things around the house takes some of that stress away. Many mothers don’t realize they’re slipping into postpartum depression, they just chalk it up to baby blues. While baby blues hits almost every mother, as their hormones dip and peak, postpartum depression doesn’t affect all women, though it is woefully under-reported and under-dealt with. If hiring a postpartum Doula can lessen the chance a mother has of experiencing postpartum depression, then it is more than worth it.