Meet Your Fairy Godmother a.k.a A Postpartum Doula

Written by: Debbie Chalk RN, IBCLC, CPD, Family Roots Postpartum Care
Posted: June 01, 2023
The Best Laid Plans
Welcoming the newest member into your family is such an exciting yet very busy time. You spend a lot of time joking and wondering about whose personality they will have and how they will fit into your family's future. Often, in the excitement of preparation for the new baby, planning for the logistics of family life can get put on the back burner. Suddenly, you're home in the midst of feedings, diapers and sleep deprivation. You have no idea what you will be having for dinner today and aren't sure if you got that load of wash in. You're still recovering from having your baby, while trying to return a call to Aunt Mary or even finish a text. Grabbing a shower seems out of reach. You could surely use a little help!

Postpartum Support Around the World
In most cultures around the world there is a formal set period of time, usually 5 to 6 weeks, when the extended family and neighborhood gather around the new family. In Burma this time is called “thie-dwin,” in China “man yue jue,” and in South America “la quarentina.” In Native American culture, families often live in a “longhouse” with extended family members. Nurturing
and education for the new mother, care for the siblings, meals and housekeeping are provided, all so the new mother can rest, recuperate and focus on her baby. In other cultures, an experienced maternal neighbor or friend comes frequently to the home to help with the family needs. In Holland, this person’s title is ‘Kram-Vrouw’. In the United States the title ‘doula’
(Greek origin) is often used.

Lying-In Hospitals
In the United States, about 60-80 years ago, there were special hospitals for birth and recovery called “Lying-In Hospitals”. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term “lying-In” as “the state attending and consequent to childbirth: confinement”. Similar to these were “Women and Children's Hospitals”. A mother would stay there for about a week after her baby was born, to be assisted by other mothers and nurses while getting to know her newborn. Some would say she was pampered, but really, she was just provided with meals, physical care and comfort measures to strengthen her before returning home. Sadly, these postpartum support hospitals eventually phased out. However help was provided, it was recognized that the new mother couldn't and shouldn’t manage all the family and household duties by herself, at least for several weeks. These traditions made a lot of sense.

Reality Check
Fast forward to 2023 and many Americans find themselves far from the familiarity of their hometowns and their families, after pursuing collegiate or career opportunities. New parents are left with a void where previous generations had a community to assist them with the arrival of a new baby. On top of that, social media and celebrities often portray perfectly curated, glamorous
images of motherhood. This leaves moms feeling pressured to have their make-up skillfully applied, a clean home, supper made and a happily sleeping 3-day-old baby. In reality, parents are bleary-eyed with exhaustion, ignoring unopened mail piled on the table, surrounded by half-eaten pizzas on the counter, while pacing their halls with a baby who doesn’t want to be put
down. They could surely use a little help!

Exasperated Parents, Meet Your Fairy Godmother a.k.a Postpartum Doula
Perhaps you have some friends and family you are comfortable with to help you - remember though, even friends with the best of intentions can be overwhelmed by their own busy schedules. In this case, a postpartum doula may fit the bill. Postpartum doulas provide varied assistance depending on each family’s needs and wishes. A doula’s primary focus is allowing you time to rest and bond with your baby. They may accomplish this by soothing the baby, changing diapers, or keeping an older sibling occupied. Supportive services may also include meal prep, laundry, and light housekeeping. Doula certification includes training on infant feeding and postpartum recovery, so guidance in those areas may be offered. Local postpartum doulas are easily found online, with reviews from other parents, pricing, and availability. Your doctor or midwife may also have resources in your area. Preparing for your baby means so many things. While friends and family will excitedly purchase tiny onesies and plush blankets off your registry, many won’t think to take care of mom and dad. Whether you add it to your registry or purchase services for yourself, the best gift you can receive is the time to focus on enjoying your baby, made possible with postpartum care. Having
a strategy in place ahead of time is ideal for your recovery, healing and enjoying your long-awaited baby. Start today to look at your options.

Placksin, Sally. (2000). Mothering the new mother. Harper Collins.

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Category: Tips From BeHerVillage Providers & Partners , Postpartum Planning
Tags: postpartum , postpartum doula , new parents , newborn


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