So often people think of using a doula only for birth, however a doula can also provide a lot of really good support during that initial postpartum period. I asked one post-partum doula to talk about how she helps her client experience a smoother transition into motherhood.
If any of you have used a post-partum doula – I would love to hear about your experiences. Please leave me a comment below.
A doula, also known as a labor coach helps a woman in all phases of childbirth, providing assistance before the woman gives birth, during the labor process and during the post partum period. The first few post partum days can be challenging for any new mother, even the most experienced. The post partum doula helps provide the new mother with her physical, as well as emotional recovery from the birth process, and studies have shown that when the new mother has good support during the post partum period, she will have a smoother transition.
A relationship with a doula begins while a woman is pregnant. A doula can answer any questions a woman may have about labor signs, delivery pain and options like keeping the vernix on the baby and circumcision. A doula can help a mother create her birthing plan and be sure it’s carried out during birth.
After the baby arrives, the role of the doula is to provide “mothering” to the new mother, by providing education and confidence, as well as helping with light housekeeping, breastfeeding support and instruction, running errands and preparing meals. Doulas can also be a great help during the post partum phase by helping with siblings of the newborn, instructing the mother how to sooth her new baby and simply allowing the mother ample time to rest. The post partum doula is typically available 24 hours a day.
In addition, the new mother can opt for doula care for only a few hours per day, or can choose to have the doula “live-in.” Nighttime is often challenging for both mother and baby, and this is the time where the doula’s assistance is most appreciated. Sometimes, the new mother is weak and fatigued as the result of a long and arduous labor.
Similarly, if the mother had a cesarean section delivery, she may be unable to hold her baby for long periods of time. This can be especially disconcerting for a breastfeeding mother, who may become weak and dizzy while trying to feed her baby. With the post partum doula standing by, the mother will feel more at ease with her baby, and not as stressed. Stress can play an important role in a mother’s ability to breastfeed. If, for example, a mother is anxious or otherwise stressed, the “let-down” reflex may not kick into action as it should. This may limit the amount of milk that the breasts produce, depriving the baby of vital nutrients.
Another way that doulas can help the new mother adjust in the post partum period is by helping take care of any surgical wounds such as episiotomies and abdominal wounds. Keeping the wounds clean and free from bacteria will help prevent an infection, and allow the mother to better care for her baby.
By nurturing the mother and assisting with basic newborn baby care, doulas allow the mother and baby to better bond, and to form a close, meaningful relationship. Mothers who are interested in seeking the services of doulas can inquire with a reputable doula service or seek resources from the hospital in which they will be giving birth. In addition, family members of the new mother may want to consider gifting her with a gift certificate for post partum doula services which will be a great comfort as she anticipates bringing her new baby home.
Guest post written by Katie Moore
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