When I was expecting my first child I was already a certified doula in both birth and postpartum. Unfortunately, I was the only one in my area who was. I knew I would need help, but there was no one to take on the full role of a postpartum doula.
As my guess date approached, I filled my freezer with meals, I got everything set and ready. My husband gets a week off, we can do this! My plans for a homebirth went to the wayside after 4 days of prodromal labor and a baby who was in a less than favorable position to be born at home. We welcomed our baby girl born via cesarean birth and once home from the hospital my husband needed to return to work. The four unexpected days in labor plus the hospital stay had used up all of my husband’s time off.
Here I was, 3 day old newborn, unable to move as I was recovering from a cesarean birth with my front door unlocked hoping anyone would walk in and have a meal for me or allow me a minute to shower. I sat wishing for even a moment of help just to stand up and go to the bathroom.
Now I’m sure you’re asking why not reach out to your family? Where were your friends? Simple answer of today’s generation; I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, but would I have called up a postpartum doula in 30 secs? You bet! As for family, not everyone has that luxury. My mother had passed away four years previous, my in-laws lived 90 minutes away and were coming in a few days. I needed the help now! Their attention was going to be on my baby and I needed the focus on my well-being AND the baby. All of my friends were amazing, brought me a meal almost everyday, checked in via Facebook, but they had their own families to worry about too!
With all that said here are my thoughts on why I really could have used a postpartum doula:
*She’s NOT judging my messy house! In fact she would do my dishes, fold laundry and help with the small things that would make my life easier. She can rifle through my cupboards and not judge why the glasses are here and plates over there.
*She’s doesn’t have an opinion about my parenting skills she’s helping me own them, breast, bottle, pacifier, swaddle, babywearing, cloth diapering, disposables- I don’t need to explain myself to a postpartum doula- she’s there unconditionally
*I breastfed and even though I have education in it, I still needed my friend to help me with checking latch because seeing and doing are two different things. When you’re sleep deprived you question yourself more often than not.
*She’s someone to ask me how I was doing, and then ask about baby second.
*When I got a UTI infection I needed a friend to come with me and carry my baby to the doctor’s office because I couldn’t lift or move my body to get my baby in and out of a car. My doula would have been there to do that and I wouldn’t have had to ask I friend to drop everything for my boring doctor appointment.
*A NAP! I could have gotten a nap or two knowing someone was watching my baby so I could catch up on sleep and not worry, when will this person have to leave? How long are they staying? Will they have to bring their kids too?
*I don’t have to play house guest with a postpartum doula. I can stay in my bed shirtless cuddling my baby knowing someone is there if I need something.
*Remember those freezer meals I prepared, she’s willing to go into my basement, grab it and throw it in the oven for me.
*Resources- endless resources! She could refer me to any local resources I may need.
Those are a few of my own personal reasons, now as a postpartum doula who will hire one next time around, here are the things I know I can look forward too.
*My future postpartum doula will play with my other children to allow me to bond with my newborn OR hold my newborn while I play and spend some much needed time with the older children.
*I WILL hire an overnight doula- she can spend the night! And when/if my “3rd shift baby” needs a play pal there she will be so that I can rest knowing my doula will get me when baby needs a feeding or maybe bottlefeed for me so I can grab a few extra hours.
*She will help my husband get a break
*She can run some errands for me or come with me to help me acclimate to two children in a grocery store.
*She will help me keep my house in some order or at the very least presentable!
*She will be there for me, however I need her and whenever I need her.
As a society we need to start being ok with asking for help, we need to understand the saying of it takes a village is actually true and not some wives tale. Our parents are retiring at a much later age than our grandparents did, we as a generation are transient and move to different cities now, where our families aren’t readily available. We have little to no time off from work where all industrialized nations have almost a year of maternity leave PAID! We wonder why our postpartum depression rates are so high, and yet still refuse to take care of ourselves. It’s time to start the conversation, to talk about postpartum doulas and why they are worth it, because mama YOU are worth it!
– Emily Jacobson