Sometimes pregnant women say they don’t need a postpartum doula because they have their mother/husband/sister/great aunt coming to stay. Which is all well and good. But today I want to give you five reasons why it’s worth having a doula in your postpartum support team too.
1. Doula’s aren’t emotionally involved.
When you are cared for by people who love you, it’s a beautiful thing. But if you experience something challenging or traumatic, then your loved one will go through that experience with you. If the birth or breastfeeding doesn’t go according to plan, your family members might be as shocked or disappointed as you are. It can be helpful to have someone outside of that situation to talk to about your experiences.
Plus, anthropological research shows that if the person caring for you is genetically related to your baby but not to you, it’s possible there is a very subtle conflict of interest. A doula can help you unpack some of the pressure you may feel and help you tune in to what feels truly right for you.
Also, if you make a choice that a family member doesn’t agree with you might hear about it later—sometimes frequently! Doulas can help you set boundaries and build confidence about these things.
Having a baby is a big transition for everyone. Doulas also provide support for partners, siblings, and extended family during the adjustment period. We understand the dynamics of all relationships will be affected by the new arrival, and we support positive communication.
2. Doulas offer support for Mom.
When I say I’m a doula, a lot of people assume I love babies— but the truth is, I love mothers! Postpartum doulas will only hold your baby if you need to pee or shower; we won’t arrive expecting cuddles, or wanting to wake your baby up for an impromptu photo shoot.
Your doula is here for you, and it’s quite possible she’ll be your only visitor with that perspective. We can also help with managing visitors, if your schedule is getting a little out of control.
3. Doulas foster a judgement-free zone.
Postpartum doulas typically provide companionship and emotional support by actively listening, providing a shoulder to cry on, or having a cup of tea and a laugh with you. You can literally ask us anything. There are no questions too big, too small, or too embarrassing for a postpartum doula.
A good postpartum doula will never tell you what to do, or give you advice or judge you. We just listen and help you tune in to your baby and your body, and make the right decisions for your family.
4. Doulas provide information, not opinions.
Sometimes family members or friends bring home outdated and even unsafe information and opinions about parenting topics like breastfeeding and bed sharing. A good postpartum doula, however, can point you toward the latest evidence and best practices to help you make the right decisions for your family. We also have extensive referral networks, and know what red flags to look for and when more expert support is required.
5. Doulas bring extra skills to the table.
One of the graduates of Newborn Mothers Collective, the postpartum training center I founded, is a massage therapist. One of her clients was an Indian woman. Her mother came over to care for her for 40 days, but her family still needed help with the daily massage, which is part of their traditional Indian postpartum care protocol. You can choose a doula who compliments the skills existing in your family to fill out your team. Your doula is part of your village, and will work with your family and friends to make sure you get the best care possible.
Traditionally, postpartum support may have come from a friend or family member. But in our culture, even though our friends and family want to help, they often don’t know how. Since they’re not really familiar with a new mother’s needs and postpartum traditions, they can actually do more harm than good. Adding a professional to your village can keep everything running more smoothly.
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #63 and was written by Julia Jones. It can also be found here: http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/The-Outer-Womb/postpartum-doulas.html