When you’re preparing for a baby, your mind may tend to focus mostly on your pregnancy and the upcoming birth experience. Sometimes it can be hard to see past your beautiful growing belly and into the early weeks of the postpartum period. It might feel like that time is just one giant question mark! Perhaps you’re wondering… How will you feel, physically and emotionally, after the birth? What if breastfeeding is more of a challenge than you expected? Where will the baby sleep? WILL the baby sleep? Will YOU sleep? What will your day-to-day schedule look like? Are you confident in your ability to meet all of your baby’s needs? If you have a toddler, how will you entertain them while tending to their new sibling? Questions like these can cause anxiety about the postpartum period, and at a time when you should be doing what you can to avoid unnecessary stress. Did you know that there are professionals who are trained specifically to support mothers through this post-birth transition period? Read on to learn more about the role of a Postpartum Doulas:
Support for the Whole Family
Bringing home a new baby is an adjustment for everyone in the household, not just for the new mother. The mother and baby will need the most attention, it’s true, but the father will also need support. If the family has other children at home, they will be impacted by the new addition as well. A Postpartum Doula can help! These doulas can perform light chores such as laundry, washing dishes, and meal preparation – tasks that might normally fall on the father to accomplish which could take away from precious family bonding time. Postpartum doulas can also help dads feel more confident in their role, whether they need advice on how to care for the baby while mom naps or tips on how to best support their partner during breastfeeding sessions. And of course, it is also important to address the needs of the siblings. The doula can help keep them entertained, show them how to safely interact with the new baby, and make sure they feel included in the transition. Overall, the Postpartum Doula can find assist in keeping the family’s previously-established routines in place as best they can while also offering suggestions on how to adjust that routine to accommodate the new little one.
Sleep: Expectations vs. Reality
Many parents leave the hospital with great aspirations about where and when their child will sleep. However, new babies often have a mind of their own about these matters. Perhaps your baby will only sleep in a swing or bouncer, or only in your bed, or only in your arms. A Postpartum Doula can assist the family with safe sleep practices and work towards developing a sleep routine that works for everyone. Bonus benefit: your doula can also care for the baby while YOU sleep! Whether you and/or your partner need a power nap or a solid night’s rest, the peace of mind that comes from knowing your baby is being tended to can make your sleep session that much sweeter.
Navigating Postpartum Emotions
Postpartum Doulas are trained to recognize the difference between the typical “baby blues” and something more serious, like postpartum depression or anxiety. They can observe the new mother’s behavior and determine if there may be a cause for concern, and as an impartial, objective third party they can provide a sounding board for her when she is ready to share her about her feelings.. Postpartum Doulas understand the need for the mother’s care to be well-rounded; it is important that both her physical AND emotional needs are met. This vigilance truly is the first line of defense against postpartum mental health issues.
Breast- and Bottle-Feeding
Whether you’re choosing to breastfeed, bottle-feed, or both, your Postpartum Doula can offer information on safe feeding methods and how to establish a flexible feeding schedule according to the baby’s needs. She can address your concerns about nipple confusion, reading your baby’s hunger cues, and proper positioning. The doula can also explain the mechanics of a good latch and help determine if you could benefit from the guidance of a lactation counselor.