Centuries ago, when a woman gave birth, she had her mother, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends to help her. In fact, there are many cultures, even today, in which a new mother does not leave her bed for 40 days. That is certainly not the case here in the US, where new moms are just sent on their way 48 hours after birth (often with sore nipples, exhausted, and hormonal). Many have never seen what breastfeeding looks like, and some have never even held a newborn. Many of them don’t have family nearby, their spouse returns to work right away, and they don’t know how to tell well-meaning friends what would really be helpful. This feeling of being overwhelmed can easily lead to postpartum depression. A doula can help lower a new mother’s risk of postpartum depression by helping her to feel more confident, less overwhelmed, and give her someone to talk with. Not to mention give mom time for a much-needed rest and some self care.
As a doula, I spend a lot of time helping moms with breastfeeding. What felt like a great latch in the hospital is often not so easy to duplicate at home. Being with a mom for a stretch of time allows me to observe 1-2 feedings while I’m there, and offer tips on latch and positioning to make things easier on both mom and baby. Between feedings, I may throw in a load of laundry, wash the dishes that have piled up in the sink, and hold baby so that mom can get some much needed rest or time for herself. I also sit with her to answer all of her questions about newborn care, and talk through her birth experience with her if she feels like it. We may put baby in the carrier and go for a walk. I may chop veggies and get dinner ready. We may give baby a bath together. Or I may entertain an older sibling while mom is nursing the baby (or hold the baby while mom and the older sibling get some one on one time together). I also offer overnight care, which is when I do take over complete care of the infant so that mom and dad can get a full night of rest. Overnight care is, by far, the most popular of the services that I offer!
I am not a housekeeper, not a nanny, not a lactation consultant. I have more knowledge about breastfeeding than a baby nurse might, but help with more than just that. While I don’t wash windows or polish the silver, I can help with basic housekeeping, which for many women is a mood booster in itself! I don’t take over complete care of the baby as a nanny might, but rather teach parents to do things so that they grow confidence, and feel capable and confident. My services vary from family to family and from day to day, and are tailored to what the family I am working with needs most.
It is a joy and a privilege to be able to make a career out of sharing this very special time with families. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!