Have you wondered what is a postpartum? What do I *actually* do? Why would you pay a doula twice what you could pay a teenager to come babysit? Isn’t it the same? You might already have family members and friends that agreed to come visit once baby is here so you already feel supported. Plus, doesn’t postpartum make reference to depression and mental health struggle after having a baby? Maybe this feel like it’s not necessary for you. Those are just a few of the things I have heard.
In order to better understand what a postpartum doula is, let’s first look at who it is for.
It is really for everyone. While it is great for people parenting alone, with limited family and friends support or who are struggling with postpartum mood disorder, postpartum doulas aren’t just for people who have specific challenges or struggles. Postpartum means: Post (after) – Partum (birth). That’s it. It has nothing to do with one’s mental health situation, the challenges they are dealing with or how the transition feels like. It simply means someone has given birth.
Even folks who feel prepare and have a community to support them might benefit from having a postpartum doula because:
1 – Parenthood doesn’t come with an instruction manual. I can provide evidence-based information (so not opinion based unsolicited advices) and resources. Maybe you bought a baby carrier but now you feel a little bit intimidated to use it and well, you lack the time to google it and watch hours of Youtube to figure it out. Maybe nursing isn’t going as well as planned and you have no idea who to reach out to get support. I can either provide information you know you can trust or refer you to the appropriate professional.
2 – Even the most well-prepared parent will need someone to hold the baby so they can have a shower, take a nap or even quietly sit and eat a hot meal. It’s very hard to prepare for the feeling of isolation and being ‘’stuck’’ under your baby all day.
The thing is even if you feel supported by family and friends, we still live in a society that has some of the highest standard when it comes to parenting and the least amount of support. It’s not a village like it used to be. A visiting family member for the first week might just not be enough.
Some people say postpartum is the first 6 weeks after the birth, some say a year. I say it’s whenever people need support. While most people will usually hire me to help out any time during the first 3 months, I am very flexible. Maybe the first 3 months were a breeze for you but now baby is older and their sleep pattern is changing and you’re going back to work soon. That’s exhausting. Having me around for an afternoon means I could take baby on a walk while you catch up on zzz and I could even bring you a book or two on infant sleep.
You can either buy hourly or buy a package for a set number of hours. Let’s say you get the High Tide Package which is 40h, you then decide how you want to use those hours. I could come once a week for a 2h shift for 20 weeks or I could come for an 8h shift 5 days straight. I send you my scheduler and it’s easy for you to schedule, reschedule or cancel a visit.
It’s also a good idea to meet at least once before the birth, so you can start preparing for the postpartum transition. It’s also another great opportunity to get to know each other and get comfortable.
Alright. Maybe it feels like you have a better idea of why someone would hire a postpartum doula but WHAT IS ACTUALLY A POSTPARTUM DOULA? What do I concretely do?
It’s hard to explain exactly what I do because it is so personal and changes from shift to shift depending on your needs that day. Here is a few things I have done with a client I worked with. She contacted me about 1 month after her baby was born because she needed support with breastfeeding.
Before our first visit, I texted her to see if she needed anything. I almost always offer to pick up some needed essentials on my way to your house. It’s clear that making the trip to the grocery store with your newborn baby just for some milk sucks. I got you. Always feel free to text me before our visit.
She booked a 2h visit. When I got there the first time, I brought 2 books on breastfeeding I thought she would appreciate. We then chatted about how she felt, what her questions were and how I could best support her that day and going forward. I then boiled some water to refill her tea while she nursed, and I cleaned the dishes and tidied up the kitchen and living area. I folded some laundry and made her breakfast.
Then, at our next visit I had done some research and prepared with some information to support with breastfeeding. I walked her through some of the tips and info I had and I saved my research so I could email it to her so she could see it came from a trusted source and return to it if needed.
Other things I did with this mama is; clean her bedsheets and make her bed like in a hotel so it feels all cozy and nice, bring my stretchy wrap so I could let baby sleep while I tidy up, take baby on a walk while mama sleeps, bounce baby to sleep and hold him while mama eats, sleep, shower, offer some organization tips for all this new baby gear in the house, have adult conversations that have nothing to do with parenting or her baby…and so much more.
No topic is off the table. Need a few tips to deal with hemorrhoids? Have been experiencing intrusive thoughts? Cracked nipples? Beyond doing concrete things like your dishes and taking the garbage out, I think the most important thing I do is be there to witness you through this human experience. Hold space. No judgement. No pressure to make it any other way. This is your experience and it is valid.
I hope this helps answer what is a postpartum doula. If you have anymore questions, I offer FREE 1h consultation so we can chat about your specific expectations and if we would be a good fit. If you need more support, but it’s financially hard for you, I offer all my services on a sliding scale. Just let me know ahead of time and we will come to an agreement that suits both of us. I also offer FREE postpartum services to qualifying families through the Doula Services Association of BC’s volunteer program.