4 Reasons I Love Being a Postpartum Doula
Along with being a mom of four kids and blogging about fun stuff to do in Tulsa, I have been a doula since 2007. If you've read my TulsaKids blog or Honeybee Mama blog for any amount of time, you've probably picked up on the fact that I'm a Birth Doula here in Tulsa. I do love birth. I love teaching women about their options and supporting them during pregnancy and labor and helping them have the most satisfying birth experience possible. I even wrote a childbirth curriculum!
Earlier this spring, I wrote a post about the newest trend in Tulsa of Postpartum Doulas, as I was just beginning to add this service into my mix of what I offer clients. Since then I've gotten more experience working with women on the other side of pushing, and all I can say is Wow. I wanted to share with you about the reasons I LOVE being a postpartum doula!
1. Reminding Moms How Great They Are
As women we are often ruled by our insecurities. We want so badly to NOT screw things up and we are fearful of things we've never done before. I remember as I held my firstborn for the first time, it occurred to me that I'd NEVER held a newborn before! I'd also never breastfed or swaddled or done all of the things new moms instantly must do several times a day, every day after giving birth. Once, a client said, "I don't know how to hold my baby." These are the things I hear from my clients.
I get to be the one that says, "Look at you! You're doing great. You DO know how to hold your baby. You DO know how to feed your baby, soothe your baby, love your baby..." Sometimes all we need as new parents is a little praise and someone acknowledging that we have the ability to do this brave new thing called parenting. Sometimes, well-meaning friends and family can offer unsolicited advice that can bring up feelings of inadequacy in new parents. As a professional doula and objective third party, I can come alongside parents and reassure them of all the things they're already doing that are good and right.
To see the sigh of relief and softened shoulders of a parent who can let go of the pressure to be perfect is a gold star of accomplishment for me in my job.
2. The Privilege of a Shower
What do I hear from my clients? Sometimes it's the special things that you really want to get done: "I haven't even written in the baby book yet." Sometimes it's showing appreciation for the support your friends and family have shown you that you can't seem to get to: "I haven't even sent out my thank you cards from the baby shower!" Until you've had a baby, you don't know what a privilege it is to have an uninterrupted shower: "I honestly don't remember the last time I had a shower."
As women, we are multi-taskers. This means it is nearly impossible for us to forget about the needs of our new baby while we are doing other things, and yet we are plagued by all the things NOT getting done while we're caring for our precious new babies! The other day, I was able to hold a baby while a new mother simply sat for a few minutes and began filling out the information in her baby book. A total of 20 minutes felt exhilarating to her and she was proud to have accomplished something that had been put off. We also spent time walking through the instruction manual of her breast pump and went through a practice pumping session, cleaned the parts and put the milk away for storage.
These seem like small tasks until you are the parent of a newborn and are baffled at how many days can go by while tasks you desperately want to accomplish go undone. That's where I come in. I LOVE helping new moms accomplish what is important to them and cheering them on as they do it!
3. Celebrating Normalcy
"Is this normal?" is one of the most frequent questions I get from new moms. Whether it's the color of poop, the amount of spit up or how many hours of sleep they get at night, and so much more, a huge concern for new parents is whether or not what they are experiencing is normal. It's easy to hesitate to ask people for fear of feeling dumb or having to pay a co-pay for going to the pediatrician every time your baby makes a new noise.
As a doula, I'm trained in the normalcy of birth and postpartum. I can help you figure out if your baby is crying more than usual, or better yet if YOU are crying more than usual! There's a wide range of normal when it comes to feeding, diapering, sleeping, and soothing your baby, as well as your own healing after childbirth. The value of an experienced childbirth and postpartum professional is that she can help you know what is and isn't normal and help you know when it's the right time to call in another professional. A great postpartum doula will have a wealth of resources from pediatricians and lactation consultants to sleep experts and alternative therapy providers.
Most of the time, that super weird stuff you experience is perfectly normal, but when it's not, you need to know!
4. Lions and Tigers and Siblings, Oh My!
This picture cracks me up. It's a picture of my own son, Aidan, trying to "love" his little brother, Alec as a newborn. You can see my hands preventing him from doing so for fear he was going to maul him! My babies were born 16 months apart and I survived. It seemed like so much of my time was spent saying, "Be GENTLE with the baby." "Aidan, the baby can't eat cheerios." "Don't feed the baby." "Don't pick up the baby." and feeling like I couldn't take my eyes off my baby OR my busy toddler who might accidentally suffocate my infant by trying to share his stuffed animals with him.
I get to help parents manage new babies with older children. Help is a wonderful thing - an extra set of hands and feet and a brain that isn't fried from a "new sleep schedule."
If you're a new parent in Tulsa, I hope you'll look into postpartum doulas for you or for a friend. Talk about a great Push Present!! The absolute best thing you can do for a new mom is get her some help!
See you around town,
Missy David, the Honeybee Mama