Two weeks ago I attended training to become a postpartum doula through Welcome Baby Care, a local postpartum doula agency that also certifies doulas. This new role seems like a logical next progression to my career, and a great way to support new families in a way that also fits with my family's life. Let's be honest, being a birth doula is a really hard job. The actual work of being at births is amazing, but constantly being on call, missing family events, and scrambling for childcare at any moment takes a toll on us over time. 2015 started busy with quite a few births early on, but since April I've cut way back in order to find better balance in my life. I will continue to do occasional births for repeat clients and others as I can, but I'm excited to expand my postpartum work.
I will be able to do all these things and more in my role as a postpartum doula. I can teach families what is normal when it comes to a newborn's appearance, behavior and even sounds they make. (They are squeaky!) I can help a family arrange their home and life to meet the baby's needs while also making sure they are getting enough rest, food, and time with older children. I can hold the baby while mom gets a much needed shower, or prepare food to make sure mom and partner are getting the nutrition they need. Is that unfolded basket of clean laundry driving you crazy? I can help! Does the dishwasher need to be unloaded? No problem. A new mom's focus in the early weeks after having a baby should be rest, recovery and frequent breastfeeding if that is how she is feeding her baby. She should not be doing any chores or cooking!
My double-major in Sociology and Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame always has me questioning birth and parenting from the prospective of "what did our ancestors do?" We know that they lived in a tribe with extended family and had a whole circle of women and men to support them in the postpartum period. Even today in many parts of the world new moms are taken care of completely for 30-40 days postpartum, not allowed to do much of anything other than rest, recover, and take care of baby. In our culture, we live in these tiny nuclear families. If we're lucky our partner can take 1 or maybe 2 weeks off from work. Perhaps our mother or mother-in-law comes to stay for a while, but that comes with it's own struggles and challenges. We haven't really seen other parents deal with a newborn so we wonder if we are doing it right, and we feel enormous pressure to "do it all" from four days after the birth. This is craziness! Reach out to all your friends and family for they really do want to help, and if you still need more help, consider a postpartum doula.
I'll finish my last certification requirements in the next 10 days and then I'll be ready to start taking clients! Whether you need a day or two of help, or want to have me come 2--3 times per week for many weeks, I'd love to support you in this time of transition. Click here to learn more about my services.