Birth today is fixated on the physical and medical aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care, leaving out very important psychological and emotional needs. The American culture does not accurately support our mothers or fathers in the days and weeks after childbirth. This negatively affects our families’ health and well being during pivotal and permanent life changes. Doulas are filling this large gap in maternity care. More specifically, a postpartum doula’s focus is helping new and growing families have a healthier, more satisfying transition after childbirth and honoring the woman as a leader in raising the next generation.
We need to learn about the value of a postpartum doula because a doula will help facilitate a smooth and rewarding transition, enhance the parents' intuitive abilities to nurture themselves and their family, encourage parents to develop and implement their own parenting style and provide guidance, education, non-judgmental support and companionship in the days and weeks after childbirth.
Because an infant needs a 24/7 caregiver, the early years of parenthood are as exhausting as they are exhilarating, as ordinary and routine as they are spectacular. To give to our infant on demand is an enormous psychological and emotional responsibility that has the potential to drain us of energy and sanity, especially if we have no additional help. -Shefali Tsabary, PHD: The Conscious Parent
The transition of coming home with a new baby is a very vulnerable and sensitive time for a family, especially a mother. The birth of a baby signifies profound and permanent life changes. Parents usually need more help than anticipated. A doula is educated and trained in many areas of postpartum recovery and will help parents plan, prioritize and implement what is important for them to maintain balance in a very unsettling time of transition.
Planning and preparing for postpartum support may start during a women’s pregnancy or may begin after the baby is born. Perhaps allowing mom and dad to nap, having nutritious meals prepped and prepared, an organized nursery or integration of a sibling or pet is a priority to the family. A doula will assess the environment each visit and offer up suggestions on how to best support the family. She will prioritize her help based on what the family needs at that moment. It may be holding the infant while the mother takes a shower or nap, spending time with the mother to make sure she has what she needs in order to care for herself and her baby, and educating the family on baby signs, infant skin rashes, massage, and breastfeeding.
Studies show that cultures, where the women are cared for by others and are expected only to nurture themselves and their babies for a set number of days during postpartum, have greater outcomes in postpartum adjustment and less postpartum depression (Stern & Kruckman). Having a postpartum doula will facilitate smooth and rewarding transitions for the whole family especially the mother: allowing her to focus on self-care, healing, and recovery from pregnancy and childbirth.
Pregnancy and childbirth are peak experiences in the lives of growing families. Several mental illnesses can arise during pregnancy and/or following childbirth (Orsolini L, et al. 2016). A postpartum doula will help integrate these experiences into parenthood and family life during the fourth trimester (12 weeks postnatal). The doula is trained in reflective listening, processing the birth experience, and can screen for postpartum mood disorders, making a referral if needed. A woman with a history of mental health issues; depression, anxiety, or psychosis is more likely to experience a postpartum mood disorder (Marks et al. 1991).
Community is the most important thing for a family with a newborn!
If the birth was traumatic to the mother than the reflection of events can be spoken about with the family and doula in order for mom or dad to process, heal and overcome the difficult feelings and emotions associated with the birth. One positively healing way is to tell your baby their birth story because they too were apart of your whole experience. Saying phrases like "I remember when you were being born and____" "I imagine it was ____ for you" and "You were coming out" and "I felt your head come out" and "I knew you were going to be here soon" "We did a lot of work together" And tell your baby how it was for you always ending with "we were safe" and "we are safe now". Babies love to been seen and reflected upon.
A postpartum doula brings many positive psychological benefits to parenthood. Leaving parents more confidant, self-determined, and empowered, enhancing their intuitive abilities and encouraging them to develop and implement their own parenting styles. A postpartum doula does not offer medical or clinical support but does meet the psychosocial needs of the family. Her interests and obligations are to serve, refer and respect her clients while maintaining privacy and confidentiality among families.
Doulas offer evidence-based information on infant cues, feeding, sleeping, soothing, emotional and physical recovery from childbirth and coping skills for new parents. Having a respectful, trained professionals dedicated to helping is remarkably healing for any postpartum couple. The doula will offer tools, suggestions, and resources such as how to get enough sleep during the first weeks of life with a newborn, prepare pump supplies or bottles, Referrals for massage, chiropractor, support groups, and how to create a nurturing & quiet environment for the family. A doula’s guidance, education, non-judgmental support and companionship in the days and weeks after childbirth is very therapeutic for parents with a new baby.
Families who work with a Positive Postpartum Certified Doula know that they’re getting someone who has completed in-depth, high quality, evidence-based training, have strong infant and toddler care experiences, breastfeeding education and training, applicable literature and research and strong knowledge of local and national resources for the postpartum period. Positive Postpartum was founded in 2018 and the owner, Suzana Miller has served 100+ families nationwide. She is committed to her clients; providing multiple services including in-home AND virtual holistic, postpartum education, support, chef services, yoga, meditation, and reiki energy bodywork. Positive Postpartum promotes maternal and child health and prosperity. Doulas are giving the power back to the women and their families by providing continuous emotional and informational support pre and postnatal. I hope families will consider working with a doula and have a better understanding of the value of a postpartum doula.
1. Marks MN, Wieck A, Checkley SA, Kumar R.Br J (1991) Life stress and post-partum psychosis: a preliminary report. Psychiatry Suppl. 1991 May; (10):45-9.
2. Orsolini L, Valchera A, Vecchiotti R, Tomasetti C, Iasevoli F, Fornaro M, De Berardis D, Perna G, Pompili M, Bellantuono C (2016) Suicide during Perinatal Period: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Clinical Correlates,.Front Psychiatry. 2016; 7:138. Epub 2016 Aug 12.
3. Stern, G & Kruckman, L (1983). Multi-disciplinary perspectives on post-partum depression: An Anthropological critique. Social Science and Medicine, 17 (15), 1027-1041