Disclosure :: Do you have questions about doulas and what they do? Today, our sponsors Birthmark Doulas answer the question “What exactly is a doula and what is their role after the birth of my child?”
A birth doulas support does not end with baby’s birth
A doula is a trained professional who provides physical, emotional and educational support during pregnancy and birth. But what about once baby is born?
There you are, finally home with your brand new baby. Sent off by the hospital with a bunch of brochures, a sample can of formula, a pair or two of the amazingly ugly, but oh-so-comfortable net undies, a bunch of those XXL pads, a squirt (a.k.a. peri) bottle for your bottom and a few tiny diapers. “See you in 6 weeks!” said your care provider. “Call us if you have any questions,” said the lactation nurse. OK, then… Not?
The first few days and nights with a newborn are both so exciting and overwhelming. Mommas to-be, imagine; experienced mommas, remember: You navigate all the ‘firsts’ that come with an itty bitty new one, while learning how to breastfeed, all the while experiencing raw postpartum emotions that leave you weepy one second and overjoyed – and possibly also weepy – the next. Add a body sore from birthing, and very little sleep into the mix. Not to mention the raging hunger and thirst at 3am while breastfeeding that little bird – again. In the dark, all by your tired self. And that’s when you call your birth doula. She will be there when you need that ear, at 3am, because you’re tired, overwhelmed, and scared. Because your doula’s support and care does not end when baby is born, but continues into those postpartum days and nights.
Your doula will visit you after birth.
Not just to ‘come see the baby,’ but to check on the whole family. She will not be embarrassed when you burst into tears when asked how you’re feeling. She will give you a hug and tell you that what you’re experiencing is normal. She will also remind your partner that the emotional roller coaster after birth really is normal, and that patience and loving, supportive words go a long way. That healing after giving birth takes time, physically and emotionally. She will encourage you and your partner to “cocoon” with that new baby as much as possible. To snuggle, enjoy skin-to-skin, bond, feed and rest.
In order to do just that, your doula will actually start working with you and your partner on a postpartum plan well before your baby’s birth. She will help you figure out how to build a team of trusted folks who will walk your dogs, feed the cat, and help wash baby’s spit up off of everything. She will tell you about online “meal trains” so family, friends, and neighbors can sign up to provide your family with meals in those first few weeks home with baby. She will remind you that this truly is the time to accept help … with cooking, cleaning, and even holding the baby while you take a shower. You will also discuss the option of a postpartum doula who can come into your home a few hours at a time to help with chores, baby care, and emotional support.
Your doula will also encourage and motivate you to seek out peer support.
She will be your resource, connecting you with parent and baby groups across the city. There are few things more comforting and encouraging than meeting up with other new moms to realize that everyone struggles when adjusting to life with a new baby. It’s normal. It’s ok. And you will get through it. The same goes for breastfeeding: your doula can connect you with a lactation consultant who does house calls if you are facing breastfeeding challenges in those early days.
One of the most important things your doula will do is ask you to tell your birth story.
Even though she was there every step of the way, she knows how important it is for families to process their birth experience, share their story, ask questions about it, and fill in gaps where the memory is hazy. Telling your story helps you to process the difficult parts, decreasing the likelihood of postpartum depression, and to recognize the ways you were powerful, intuitive, and connected to your partner during birth.
And when it’s time to say goodbye, know that you and your family have a special place in your doula’s heart. She will always value the privileged of being a part of your birth team, before, during, and so-very-much after your baby’s birth.
To learn more about Birthmark’s birth and postpartum doula services and to connect with our doulas visit us at www.birthmarkdoulas.com, call us at 504-457-8332, or email us at [email protected].
Rea Keith is a birth doula and child birth educator with Birthmark. She lives with her husband, her seven year old boy, two dogs and two fishies in Gentilly.