And those needs are truly numerous. “Despite the plethora of responsibilities that new parents face, people who give birth still have a whole host of medical, emotional and psychological needs in the postpartum period,” says doula Danielle Jernigan, MS, who specializes in perinatal mental health and trauma-informed care. . That’s where postpartum doulas come in. Just as birth doulas provide support and guidance through the birthing process, postpartum doulas help support birth parents through the challenging first days, weeks, and even months with their newborn.
Having a postpartum doula can help new moms adjust to the roller coaster of physical and emotional changes they’re experiencing. “[My doula] When I first got home, that first stretch was very important,” says dancer and Lion Babe musician Jillian Harvey, who spoke about her postpartum experience with doula Latham Thomas at the Mama Glow Doula Expo. “My hormones were dropping, which is biologically normal. But emotionally very difficult. There was all this information to digest, but she was able to explain it well and help me understand what was going on. At this point, I can’t imagine what I would have done without it.” That experience inspired her to spread the word about postpartum doula care. “You don’t have to endure this ‘fourth trimester’ on your own,” she says.
What does a postpartum doula do?
“For both pregnancy and childbirth, doulas support moms in three ways: We provide education and awareness, we advocate for them, and we support them emotionally,” says Jernigan. “Doula care has been shown to increase positive outcomes for mother and baby.”
After the baby is born, postpartum doulas focus on “mothering” by taking on an array of tasks and responsibilities for the new parents. Those may include practical matters such as meal preparation and breastfeeding guidance, but they often help new parents understand the stages of their postpartum recovery. “After birth, we teach them how their bodies can change and encourage them to make their mental and physical health a top priority,” says Jernigan. “We also encourage them to keep open lines of communication with their medical team. If they suspect something is off, we encourage them to call their physician.”
Postpartum doulas are not a replacement for your doctor. Doulas do not provide medical care, administer medications, or facilitate labor and delivery, according to the National Black Doulas Association. Those tasks and responsibilities, according to the NBDA, are delegated to medical professionals known as midwives or obstetrician-gynecologists (aka OB/GYNs). But to help you understand your lochia or to assist with activities as your cesarean incision heals, a postpartum doula can do that and more.
“You don’t have to endure this ‘fourth trimester’ alone.” – Jillian Hervey
What does a postpartum person need?
“New moms and dads need support,” says Rachel Taylor, RN, SBCPE, CE, a registered postpartum nurse and doula with Mama Did It. “Dinners were brought to them, groceries delivered, people to hold her baby while she bathed and dressed, someone to offer to run her errands, and someone to give her a break between feedings.”
In addition to caring for the newborn, new birth parents are also recovering from major medical procedures. Doula and lactation consultant Beth Ann Martin, MPH, CLC, CD/PCD (DONA), says a postpartum person’s needs vary depending on what they experienced during labor and delivery. For example, if you have stitches after birth, you may need ice packs or limit your range of motion. Other people may need to take pain medication or wear disposable underwear while their bodies shed postpartum fluids. Doulas can also be the first to recognize signs of postpartum depression or anxiety, which can help new parents get the professional support they need.
“Postpartum doula care is here to say that help is needed and it’s okay to ask.” -Kelsey Nevins, Certified Doula
Adapting to changes and needs is a big part of postpartum care, says Taylor. The truth is that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Maybe the baby won’t finish breastfeeding, the baby may have an unexpected disability upon arrival, the parent or mom may experience postpartum depression, or any number of life variables can throw a wrench (or rattle) in an otherwise shiny and tidy birth plan. , adds Martin. The second point here, though, is that it’s not the end of the world when things change. Doulas there can help to correct a family course.
What can a postpartum doula do for a family?
A doula’s primary goal is to meet the pregnant or postpartum person where they are. Even if chores or chores don’t seem like what a doula would typically do, if it’s something a person needs time off—then it’s often care that a postpartum doula will be happy to provide, Jernigan says. “A postpartum doula is someone who helps a mother recover after giving birth. She can teach, care for her, cook, take care of her baby, do light work, or run errands for the mother,” says Taylor. “A good postpartum doula can ease the transition from childbirth to motherhood. She can educate the mother on her healing recovery as well as help care for her and her baby. She also teaches how to breastfeed and care for her newborn.”
Attending to parents’ needs doesn’t just help parents; It also benefits children. “Many families don’t realize that the baby co-regulates with the parent. If the parent is calm, the baby will be calm,” says Kelsey Nevins, a certified doula at The Movement Doula.
Although doulas do not perform medicine without relevant evidence, they can be a sounding board for whether their clients should also be in contact with their care team.
Why is it important to spread awareness about postpartum doulas?
ironically, Because Doulas meet such diverse needs, some people mistakenly believe that a postpartum doula is not what they need. But if, say, you need help with labor or feeding, not necessarily breastfeeding, a doula can still step in, Jernigan says. Postpartum doulas can offer skills that range from the specific knowledge they have trained and Domestic support like running your dishwasher or picking up other slack around the house that you might fall behind on, she notes. “Sometimes, people may think of needing help with work or eating as a failure of good parenting, but postpartum doula care is here to help and it’s okay to ask,” adds Nevins.
Additionally, as Thomas and Harvey pointed out at the Mama Glow Doula Expo, it’s knowing that you can Hiring someone to support you during your postpartum period is important to planning to do so. The same goes for learning the details of what a postpartum doula has to offer. If sleep is a major concern for new parents, some doulas offer night shifts where they take over all or part of the baby’s care so that the birth parent (or both parents) can get their full night’s sleep.
This need for awareness is also essential for financial planning to pay for a postpartum doula. Although postpartum doula services can be expensive, there are ways to make it more affordable. Some insurance plans cover part or all of the cost of a postpartum doula, Martin says. She advises families to talk to Dulles about sliding scale pricing and look into using eligible FSA or HSA funds for this care. And in some places, postnatal care is moving from “necessary care” to “necessary care” in the “necessary care” column. For example, a New York State doula pilot program launched in 2018 includes doula care for Medicaid recipients. The program includes four visits with a doula before delivery, support during labor and delivery, and four visits after delivery.
These experts highlight the fact that people often consider the needs of birth parents and the needs of infants as very separate categories. When they are deeply embedded in reality. The more parents’ needs are met, the better they can feel, and the better they can care for their children. Postnatal care is about making room for the needs of the mother or expectant parents – because they are just as deserving of care as their new arrival.