A mother to the new mother: The role of a Doula

Think back to all the subjects you were taught in early adulthood and the topics you may have educated yourself about in adulthood.  Basic math, science, history, music, and other subjects that are great foundations for our education and future.  But not much (if any) education or preparation on the most fundamental topic that significantly changes and defines our life once it happens; becoming a parent.

It may be surprising, but many people have not even held a baby or spent much time with children at all before becoming a parent themselves.  Sure you have approximately 40 weeks to prepare for baby, but that's a bit overwhelming in itself.  And then no matter how much you try to prepare, you're never really ready.

Becoming a parent is a 'learn as you go' job.  You never know how your body will react to pregnancy, how delivery will go, how your body will recover postpartum, what your baby will be like, or how the baby will change all aspects of your life. Although there are many ways you can prepare for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood, there are many things you can't or will not have prepared.

One of the first things to do once you discover you're going to be a parent, is begin thinking about providers and what kind of experience you want for your prenatal care and delivery.  Most people are familiar with the roles of OBGYNs, midwives, nurses, and sonographers as professionals you might encounter along your journey.  But there are more birth professionals that you may not be familiar with.

Labor will most likely be the most intense, amazing experience of your life.  Imagine it like any other HUGE event in your life, and you likely want a professional by your side throughout to orchestrate, coordinate, and support you emotionally and physically throughout.  That's where a Labor Doula comes in.  The role of a Labor Doula is to physically, emotionally, and informationally support the laboring mother throughout active labor and delivery.  She prepares parents for what to expect during labor and delivery, knows ways to help make mom more comfortable and manage pain during active labor, will be her mediator and advocate in the hospital, and empowers and supports the parents so this pivotal event is less scary and intimidating.

While birth day is a big day, the learning curve doesn't end there; that's just the beginning!  Once you get home, your new life sets in.  Now it's time to learn your baby, figure out feeding, changing, caring for baby, tend to other children, pets, your spouse, maintain the house...and don't forget to feed and care for yourself!

A Postpartum and Infant Care Doula supports mom, baby, and family into life after birth.  During the day, a postpartum doula will help support you physically and emotionally however you prefer.  She can help with feeding, changing, and caring for baby, help care for mom and her postpartum needs, help with light household needs like straightening up, prepping food, running errands, help occupying other children, and more.  If you'd prefer help at night so you can get a good night's sleep (yes, that's a privilege) your doula (also may be called a night nurse) can care for the baby all night while you sleep.

If you're a mother, you know the services of a doula sounds heavenly.  If you're not a mother, I'm sure you can imagine just how beneficial a doula can be to mom's recovery and the family's settling into life with new life.  Family may send a meal, stop by to visit and hold baby, and ask how everyone's doing, but truly helping a new mother through the postpartum period (also know as the fourth trimester) means helping her care for herself and her recovering body, troubleshooting baby's issues, and helping with laundry, meals, and other tasks mom no longer has the time and energy for.

We keep hearing about how beneficial self-care is, and how the proper care for mom trickles down and benefits the whole family.  A doula is a mother's best self care during the most pivotal time in her life, transitioning into motherhood.  If you're pregnant, know someone who is, or parenthood may be in your future, I hope you will remember this and consider incorporating doulas into your birth and postpartum plans, or sending one as a gift.  As a mother who has given birth 3 times, I can tell you from experience, a doula is an investment you WILL NOT regret!

 

You can learn more about our New Parent Consults and Doula Services here.