A growing number of families are adding postpartum Doulas to their support team as they make their transition into parenthood. So, what do Doulas really do, how can they help? Our role is to support families with their needs and new role as parents. For some families this might involve tending to the baby so parents can rest, shower, eat a meal, or catch up on a few phone calls. There are many tasks that new parents do not have time for in the early days such as meal prep, laundry, and general tidying. You may not feel comfortable asking a family member or friend to fold your laundry or chop veggies, or make you a hot meal, but with a Doula that’s our job.
Breastfeeding can be challenging and your Doula can help you gain confidence and skills in that area and offer additional resources if needed. Unlike some family members or friends, Doulas do not need to be “hosted”. It’s common for us to invite relatives over to meet the new baby and when they leave you feel exhausted because instead of gaining support or help you’ve entertained company. There is always the exception some family members or friends who you know would do your laundry and make you a sandwich!
A Doula is educated with the most current research around postpartum care and newborns. We won’t reference “when you were a baby…” like some of the new grandparents. They mean well but some things have changed for a reason. Every family has unique needs and routines, navigating how a baby can change or alter these can be overwhelming. A Doula can support and guide you through this process.
During those first few weeks home, certain tasks might seem daunting, like bath time for baby, or trimming their nails, there will be many questions firing around in your mind. Having a Doula there to show you the ropes until you gain confidence can help keep you calm and reassured.
After birth, women need healing physically and often emotionally, a Doula knows what to offer and suggest to new mom’s and dads. Did you know that Doulas will do overnight shifts? YES! Sleep will become very precious to new families. Doulas will come overnight to your home and care for your baby while you get some much-needed rest. If you are breastfeeding, we will bring your baby to you for feeds, or if you have pumped, we can bottle feed so you can take full advantage of a full night’s rest. Whatever nighttime routine you are comfortable with we will be there. Dirty dishes in the sink after bedtime? No problem we can take care of that during the night once your baby is back asleep. Doulas can even pick up a few things for you on their way to your home, forgot you were out of milk or eggs, we got it no problem!
Doulas generally work per hour. Some Doulas have a minimum number of hours (i.e. 4 hours). Shifts can vary from days, evenings, and overnights, week days to weekends. Every family has preferred times based on their partners schedule, babies schedule etc. Most Doulas offer gift certificates. Consider giving a friend the gift that keeps on giving. It can make an amazing shower gift, what is a better gift than sleep?
Consider adding a postpartum Doula to your support team, you will not be disappointed!
Jenn is a mother of two handsome boys who chose to have both her births at home. What is a home birth really like, why would someone choose it over a hospital birth. What if something goes wrong, all that mess, is there a mess? Birth tubs, no epidurals, I asked and she answered. She shares her home birth experience as a first and second time mom.
What made you consider home birth?
"The short version? Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth."
"The long version... As I started to read more about birth and labour, my view shifted from birth being a medical emergency that needed a hospital, to it being a natural event that needed support. I knew if I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth that I needed to be as relaxed as I could, and hospitals do not make me feel relaxed. I also wanted to be able to move, eat, and labour freely with no rules or restrictions. When I started to research the safety statistics I felt even more confident in my choice. We went to a home birth info night at our midwife's office and that sealed the deal."
How did other's react when you told them you were having a home birth?
"I got a lot of "are you nuts" looks and comments about us being 'brave' with the understanding that brave was the nice way of saying crazy. My parents were afraid that it was dangerous. But I got good at quoting the safety statistics for a low risk birth which are the same for home or hospital. There are pros and cons and risks and rewards to both."
Was your home birth experience what you thought it would be?
"Yes and no. With my first I really wasn't sure exactly what to expect with labour. He came early so I wasn't "ready" the way I wanted to be. It was a bit of a scramble. I was happy to be in my own space which we could set up however we wanted. Labour went faster then what I had imagined in my mind as a first time mom so I didn't do everything I thought I would. We did have to transfer to the hospital after my son's birth, which was not how I envisioned our first night, but of course better safe then sorry! My second was great. I had a better idea of labour and birth and it was what I hoped it would be. Since I had both boys at home, I can't imagine doing it any other way."
Some people worry about the "mess" of a home birth, did this cross your mind?
"It did, but I learned at the home birth info session that it's not really an issue. We were given a kit from our midwives that included some super absorbent pads and a few other items. We didn't even end up using everything. I never saw a mess.... Everything was cleaned up and all that was left was a garbage bag to throw out and a bag for the laundry. The midwives took care of it all."
Did you use a birth tub? Was it hard to set up/clean up?
"We used a birth tub. Best. Thing. Ever. Easy to set up and a huge help for me for pain management. If my husband can set it up while in a semi panic because I'm in active labour and want him to stop and be with me for every contraction then anyone can! I didn't see or help with clean up, but I think it was quick and easy."
As a first time mom were you worried you might want pain medication and would not be able to at home?
"Funny enough I was more worried the second time! But no, because I knew if I reached my max we could always transfer to the hospital. Just because you start with the plan for a home birth doesn't mean you aren't allowed to change your mind. I'm pretty stubborn when I set my mind to something. I was fortunate to have shorter labours, an amazing support team, a birth tub that really helped, but I knew I could get more options for pain management if I needed (at the hospital). Both times we registered at a hospital in advance just in case."
What would you tell someone who is considering home birth?
"Do your research and make an informed choice. It wasn't a decision that we made lightly. For me it was about where I would feel calmest, safest, and most comfortable. For some people, that is the hospital. For me it was at home."
Alot of people worry about the "mess" of a home birth, did this cross your mind?
Alot of people worry about the "mess" of a home birth, did this cross your m