Postpartum Doulas: Everything You Need to Know
If you have recently welcomed a baby into the world, congratulations! While your life may be full of joy, excitement, and adrenaline, you may also be feeling overcome with emotions of exhaustion, anxiousness, and confusion.
If that sounds like you, you are not alone. The postpartum period is vulnerable in a way that no other phase of life is. In this article, we will discuss the stigma surrounding moms who ask for help, postpartum doulas, and the sacredness of the postpartum period.
Moms Asking for Help
When a woman is pregnant, she seems to attract attention everywhere she goes. From the random stranger asking how many weeks she has left in her pregnancy, to the coworker that asks to rub her belly... this woman feels like the star of the show!
Once the baby is born, however, women quickly learn that this attention was not for them. In Western culture, time and care automatically shift to the baby, while “new mom” is left to recover, learn, nurture, and thrive all on her own… without missing a beat.
Thanks to the overwhelming influence of social media, women have been taught that the postpartum goal is to “bounce back”. Forget about the healing wounds, leaking breasts, and rolling hormones! Postpartum moms are barely granted the days off of work to physically heal, let alone the profound support that allows them to regain their emotional strength and confidence.
Due to this image that moms feel the need to live up to, it is very difficult to ask for help. Many moms who feel the desire to ask for help feel as though they are weak, inadequate, or lacking motherly instinct. This is not true.
The postpartum period is more than a time of physical recovery. It is a time of complete identity reshaping! The birth of a child represents the birth of a new mother.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
In the way that a baby is nurtured after birth, a mother desires to be nurtured as well. That is the role of the postpartum doula!
A postpartum doula is a trained professional who comes into the home to help to empower and nurture a new mother. This includes tasks such as:
● Taking care of the baby so that mom can nap
● Nourishing mom with healthy foods
● Light household chores
● Creating a routine
While these tasks may seem simple, they can make a world of difference to a new mom who has put all of herself into caring for her child.
Holistic Health Care
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists have proposed the idea of the “fourth trimester”. This implies that in the months following the birth of a baby, the mother should continue to be cared for and seen by healthcare professionals and other supports, as a way to ensure the mother is recovering holistically.
Holistic postpartum care means considering more than just physical healing. It would include:
● Assessment of physical, social, and psychological well-being
● Assessment of mood and emotional well-being
● Sex and Contraception education
● Chronic disease management
● Health maintenance
By working with a postpartum doula, a woman grants herself the opportunity to truly recover from birth, and to thrive as a mother.
Postpartum in Other Cultures
While Western culture is largely individualistic, other cultures honor postpartum as a sacred time. This time is utilized by the mother to rest, heal, and nourish herself so she can adequately care for her child later.
The culture of the Thai people has very specific practices that begin immediately after birth. When a woman gives birth, she is thought to be “cold and wet”. This results in the postpartum mother being kept close to the fire, using heating pads, drinking hot drinks, and taking hot baths. Women are also encouraged to stay warmly dressed, avoid the wind, and practice abstinence.
In African culture, we see implementation of massage, herbs, belly binding, and the use of food to heal the postpartum body!
While Western cultures typically view postpartum as a 6-week period, other cultures recognize that it extends far beyond that.
In many cultures around the world, holistic postpartum traditions have been passed down for generations. Mothers and mothers-in-law take great care in educating and nurturing the young women experiencing postpartum.
Postpartum Doulas honor and respect the traditions of other cultures, often incorporating them into their own practices.
What to Look for in a Postpartum Doula
If you have decided that you would benefit from a postpartum doula, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when choosing the right match for you:
Doulas come equipped with a vast array of skills, qualifications, and certificates. There is no specific certification required to be classified as a “doula." While certifications aren't necessary, you should seek to work with a doula who has been trained formally or informally to provide support to new mothers.
Ask your potential doula what skills they bring to the table. This may include things like
training in various healing modalities and specific areas of expertise in the following topics: breastfeeding, sleep, mental health, nutrition, etc. Consider what qualifications are important to you.
It is up to you to decide if you are comfortable with a relatively new doula, or one who
has experience. While some people are comfortable either way, you must work with someone whose skills you are confident in.
● How they make you feel
This is the most important. If you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or any negative emotion from or because of your potential doula, it is not the right match. Your doula is meant to empower you and make you feel at ease!
If you are struggling with postpartum, know that you are not alone and that there IS help available. Not every new mom has the convenience of having supportive family or friends to help out... but that doesn’t mean you have to do this alone!
When you work with a postpartum doula, you allow yourself to recover from birth. This means that you will get back to being the person/mom that you want to be… no matter how long it takes!
Postpartum care agencies like Elephant Baby are dedicated to helping moms feel supported, nurtured and empowered in their postpartum time. Be sure to search your area for resources like this when you're planning for postpartum!
If you are not 100% confident in the steps you should take to replenish all the nutrients that are lost during childbirth...
If you're unsure of what it takes to come to deep, restorative healing after your baby arrives...
If you want to know what you need to do to avoid coming postpartum issues like hair loss, depression, hormone imbalance, and autoimmune issues...
If you don't feel 100% confident in your postpartum health recovery...
Check out the Postpartum Wellness Revolution Membership hub!
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists:
Traditions of Thai Culture:
Traditions of African Culture:
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