You’ve gone up and down that baby aisles at Target and scoured Amazon. You’ve grilled your friends and asked in mom groups to pin down all of the ‘must have’ items. Pinterest has helped you pick a nursery theme and Consumer Reports led you to all of the safest gear. Your baby shower registry has been thoroughly thought out and is complete. But there is one item missing. One that few people know about but will turn out to be the most useful gift on your parenting journey.
The Gift of a Postpartum Doula
The word doula is an ancient Greek word meaning “woman’s servant.” You may have used or heard of a birth doula. Birth doulas provide non-medical emotional, physical and informational support before, during and shortly after birth. A postpartum doula provides similar support but in the days, weeks or even months after baby is born.
The transition into parenthood can be a very vulnerable time for the birthing person and partner. A postpartum doula will provide a non-judgemental ear to listen to the emotions of the entire family, hold space for your birth story, actively listen to your concerns, and encourage parents to follow their hearts and instincts.
It is amazing how much work newborns can be! The learning curve on baby care is steep, especially if this is your first baby. From diapers to feeding, household tasks to baby’s first bath, there is a lot to juggle. Add to this your healing body and lack of sleep and it’s easy to see why many parents feel completely overwhelmed. A postpartum doula can tidy your home, do dishes, wash baby laundry, prepare you easy to grab snacks. She can care for siblings while you tend to your baby, take on baby care while your spend time with your other children. You can shower, nap or take a few moments for yourself knowing your baby is in good hands. She will accompany you on errands or appointments if you choose to venture out.
Postpartum doulas are trained to provide evidence-based information on infant soothing techniques, breast or bottle feeding support, and normal newborn behavior. She will also be an invaluable source of information on local resources, support groups and practitioners.
You only get one chance at the newborn stage, what some commonly refer to as the fourth trimester, the first three months after baby is born. It can be beautiful and challenging, it can bring you joy and sorrow. A postpartum doula is there to help make the postpartum period as smooth of a transition as it can be, and her goal is to leave your family feeling empowered and confident as you embark on your parenting journey.
If you are interested in receiving the gift of a postpartum doula don’t be shy to ask for one! You can create a postpartum doula fund that friends and family can contribute to or have them purchase a gift card for services.
**This post originally appeared on Madison Mom.