I've Got a Dirty Little Secret
How do you look so rested with a newborn? How are you getting sleep with a new baby?
How do you possibly have time for a shower AND makeup?
Tell us the secret!
These were the words of wonderment spoken to a recent client. Her answer?
I’ve got a dirty little secret!
Her not-so-secret secret: she had hired a postpartum doula. She had hired a doula team to care for her baby and herself during the day and overnight, covering all of her bases.
A dirty little secret? NO! A wise choice? ABSOLUTELY!
First things first, what is a postpartum doula? The American Pregnancy Association sums it up well:
A postpartum doula provides evidenced based information on things such as infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother–baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care.
A postpartum doula is there to help a new family in those first days and weeks after bringing home a new baby. Research shows that moms, dads and babies have an easier time with this transition if a good support team is in place.
Our culture has such a high expectation of new parents. We expect them to come home with a new baby and continue on as usual. After a cesarean birth, it’s obvious that the birthing parent needs additional support and care. They just had major surgery and require 8 weeks of support. We often forget that the post-vaginal birth requires healing, even if it was smooth and “injury free”. The placenta detaching from the uterus leaves a plate sized internal wound that needs nurtured. THAT’S an injury. That means 4-6 weeks of rest, nourishment and time to heal…..all while caring for a newborn. The parent who gave birth vaginally may outwardly appear to need less support because they don’t have a visual injury.
These misconceptions lead parents experiencing vaginal birth prone to returning to their “usual” far too soon, causing fatigue, depletion and sleep deprivation. Where is their support? Perhaps, they have a limited “village” or their village perceived them as doing “just fine” and went home or back to work.
So you just had a baby and are needing support after childbirth. How can a postpartum doula help?
A postpartum doula fills in the holes of your care once you are home with your baby. Every family’s needs look different. We may guide you through your baby’s cues and eventually assist you in helping your baby sleep through the night. We can answer the question: “What do I do with this baby?” whenever you feel overwhelmed, or we can provide you with a moment (or an hour or tow) to yourself so you can take care of YOU. We make sure you have your needs met so you can provide the best care possible to your baby when we are not there. We listen and give you the space to talk about all the things that may be causing you stress as you navigate your new life with a new baby.
The postpartum mother mentioned above, wanted a couple nights of more reasonable sleep. She wanted the doula to bring in the baby at feeding time so all she had to do was sit up, breastfeed and go back to sleep. The doula took care of all of the other baby’s needs, including staying up if baby did not go back to sleep. During the day, she wanted help keeping up with the baby’s laundry, time to talk about all of her concerns or to just bounce ideas off of someone other than her family or friends, to nap and to have warm, healthy food prepared for her. She used this time to talk about breastfeeding, recommended baby supplies and local resources. She used this time to talk about herself, her feelings and the highs and the lows.
She chose to talk endlessly about her baby to someone who truly LOVED listening!
Simple tasks really. But when I spoke to this mom 4 months later, she said that receiving postpartum care in the form of a doula was pivotal in her confident start. It provided her the foundation, skills and healthy support she needed.
But aren’t doulas only for rich people?
I’ve had families prioritize doula care above all of the fancy baby gear. I’ve had families scrape together the funds, or have family and friends join together to pay for just enough postpartum doula support to get a good start. They recognized that even one or two short postpartum doula shifts would provide what they needed.
Getting support isn’t a dirty little secret!
This “secret” should be shouted loud and proud. Tell everyone. Be proud of the decision you made to provide a better start for you and your family. Be proud of the permission you gave yourself to take care of YOU after you got home with your squirming, needy baby. Be proud of the fact that you wanted unbiased support and evidence based information.
Be proud that you asked for help!
You just made one of your first big decisions about your own health and the well-being of your new family.
No secret there. Just be proud!
Sheryl Cooksley is a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, Infant Feeding Specialist and the owner of Family Tree Doula Services located near Portland, Oregon. Sheryl leads a team of antepartum and postpartum doulas who value supporting all families through the first year with their baby.
If you or someone you know could use a helping hand as a new parent, we are available day or night, now or later, to provide whatever support may be needed. Reach out. Give us a call at 503-630.-4063.
Check out all Family Tree Doula Services has to offer by visiting our website: www. familytreedoula.net