If you’re reading this and currently expecting, you’ve likely already researched the best car seats and strollers. But what about your postpartum care?
In the time of easy access to all the information you could ever dream of, right at your fingertips, we have become accustomed to “just Google it” as a quick and easy response to most of life’s challenges. From how to change the oil in our car to online owners’ manuals, and many other “life hacks,” we can learn just about any skill simply by perusing the internet.
Like most expecting parents, Chelsea and Brandon found themselves consulting these same modes of learning we’ve grown accustomed to as they were preparing for their first baby. They read the books, they took the hospital affiliated childbirth class, and they had close family members at the ready to help when baby arrived.
However, things began to reach “you can’t find that on Google” status pretty quickly during their birth. The experience took some twists and turns they hadn’t learned about in their one day class at the hospital.
Chelsea and Brandon had a baby who needed some additional care with a stay in the NICU. After they made it home with their baby, they were looking forward to settling into their new normal, but there were some additional bumps in the road that made them realize there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to birth, breastfeeding, or parenting.
Enter… the postpartum doula!
A postpartum doula, like the ones you can find at Midwest Doulas, are magical helpers who provide evidenced-based information on things like feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, assistance with infant soothing, and basic newborn care. Research shows that new parents (and their babies) have an easier time with this transition if a good support team is in place.
Like most new parents, Chelsea was looking for the answers to some pretty normal postpartum challenges…
- How can I get my baby to sleep longer?
- How many times a day should I pump?
- How can I get my baby to latch?
But the right answers to these questions are personal to each mom, dad, and baby — they simply don’t come from Google. Yes, you may be able to pick up that newborn sleep training book. And you can find some YouTube videos on proper latching of your baby. However, not all of those “Google-able” solutions apply to the very unique little person that you have in your new baby.
When Chelsea reflected on why the postpartum doula was so valuable she said, “None of the knowledge that you get during pregnancy from reading or the hospital based class were applicable to our kid. That’s why we needed more help from people who could individualize our learning and the support we needed for our unique child.”
A postpartum doula is someone who will come to your home and work within the framework of your specific family unit.
You can choose to have someone come over night to help you with getting a little bit more sleep between feedings, or perhaps you need some daytime help with meal prep, troubleshooting some lactation issues, or just learning how to soothe your baby in a way that keeps you sane in the process.
Whatever the challenges you face postpartum, a good postpartum doula will clearly assess you and your family’s needs and fit in seamlessly without feeling like a burden or another person for you to worry about.
Chelsea found that her baby was struggling with reflux so she needed some professional and calm support.
“I felt like the postpartum doula wasn’t going to be judgmental, and they were going to be patient with my baby who was screaming. I didn’t feel like I was inconveniencing them or making it miserable to be around us.”
So how can you better prepare yourself and build the best possible support system for becoming a new parent?
Here are a few top actions you can take:
1. Get a birth doula! There are some great ones here, or check out doulamatch.net
2. Take an amazing non-hospital based Childbirth Education class that is interactive, fun, engaging, AND covers all the potential twists and turns.
It truly does “take a village,” and this is not just a one-person (or even a two-person) job — so reach out and get the help you need.
Asking for help is something not all of us are good at doing, but in order to provide your new baby the best care, you must also allow yourself be cared for — because during the experience of postpartum, you too are learning and growing.