As a doula agency owner, I have the privilege of speaking with 30 or more new and expecting parents each week. I hear their stories, their struggles, their excitement, their worries and a slew of myths and lies that they have been told and believed. The lie that gets me every time is:
EVERYONE DOES THIS ALONE!
What? Who does this alone? Who goes into the parenthood journey alone with absolutely no support? I do not know anyone who does this alone and if they are attempting it, I can guarantee that they are not enjoying it.
There are so many reasons that we should not be doing this alone. Postpartum depression, health of mom and health of baby, family relationships, breastfeeding success, and truly overall contentment of this new journey are just few of the many reasons to seek support.
Postpartum depression occurs at a rate of 1 in 7 and Postpartum Blues is experienced by as much as 80% of new moms. Although Postpartum Blues is considered normal and common, having support and proper care can help lessen the severity and possibly decrease the likelihood of this evolving into postpartum depression. Having the time and the space to bond with baby and an expert available to teach and reassure can make all the difference in bonding and attachment, which can reduce negative feelings and increase overall contentment.
Health of Mom and Baby
Yes, birth is a life event, but it is one that one needs time, rest, and care to heal from. We should be cared for after birth and given time to recover. Although talked about for years on a variety of platforms, little has been recommended by the medical field in the USA until recently.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) are now recommending that families have a postpartum care team. The team should address and support mood and emotional well-being, infant care and feeding, sleep and fatigue, physical recovery from birth, breastfeeding support, and practical needs such as meal prep, household chores and more. POSTPARTUM DOULAS DO THIS!!!!
Finally in 2018, ACOG started addressing and taking notice that postpartum care should consist of ALL of this and more. We need support, helpers, postpartum doulas, and CARE.
Our world has changed and those that were our care team often no longer play these roles. Grandparents, siblings, extended family, neighbors and friends were the community that once supported new parents. Where are all of these people now? Working, busy with their own families, 1000 miles away, traveling for work—UNAVAILABLE. The world is a different place then it was 30 or 40 years ago when our parents were having us. Families are not always nearby, and parents may still be in the workforce when their grandchildren are born. People are busier.
Although family may no longer be involved or available in the same capacity, family is still incredibly important. Understanding and having realistic exceptions of all family members and friends can be incredibly helpful with creating and maintaining healthy relationships in your life. If partners are heading back to work after a week or less, they may not be as available to help overnight and they certainly are unavailable during the day. If your mom is still working or unable to help, allow her to visit and support you in whatever capacity possible while recognizing her limitations. Hiring a postpartum doula to fill in the gaps and help with ALL of the things can take the pressure off of all other relationships and can set everyone up for success. The postpartum doula can support a family in the moment, but can also help a family to find structure and implement supports for the future.
With breastfeeding initiation rates higher than 80% in the USA, we KNOW that MOST families intend to breastfeed. There are many factors that hinder or end a breastfeeding relationship, and lack of support and/or lack of information are two of the main reasons. Although thought of as natural—and it is—breastfeeding itself is a learned behavior, and families need both education and guidance to be successful. When issues arise with breastfeeding without accurate information and proper support, the small problems become larger problems. There are a variety of community resources, but the support should start at the hospital with properly trained nurses and IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants). The support should continue at home with a visit from an IBCLC if breastfeeding is not going well or a postpartum doula and/or a lactation educator if things are going well and the family would like general support and information.
Contentment and Overall Happiness
Who doesn’t benefit from support when adjusting with a new baby? Whether expecting your first or fifth you will benefit from support. Everyone needs sleep, rest, help around the house, newborn care, feeding support, an empathetic ear, and being cared for.
Some families, especially first-time families, will love the expertise of a postpartum doula. They will immediately feel at ease knowing a professional is there to teach them about their baby, breasting, baby cues, and all of the normal newborn behaviors. Families who are growing with their 2nd, 3rd, etc. appreciate the help. In these situations, the postpartum doula can take care of EVERYTHING so the parents have time to enjoy their newborn.
The newborn and new baby phase of your life is so incredibly short and intense. Although hard, with the correct support and care it can be manageable, enjoyable, and filled with LOVE. Please remember that we have NEVER done this alone. Find your helpers whether that is family, friends, or postpartum doulas!
Anna has supported families as a doula since 2009 and is committed to providing families with professional, compassionate, and personal support. Anna gives 200% in all she does in life and brings this commitment and passion to every aspect of her work as a doula.
Anna has had the reputation of being a kind, calm, and loving person for as long as she can remember. She has always cared deeply for people and strives to support and care for all around her. She has worked with children and families since she was a teen and later on has supported families in the role of a nanny, preschool teacher, Americorps worker, respite worker, special education teacher, and finally as a birth and postpartum doula. Anna was a special educator for ten years prior to becoming a doula and owner of Chicago Family Doulas and Arizona Doulas.
Being a lifelong learner, Anna earned her master’s degree in Education, as well as, multiple degrees in Special Education. She is certified as a labor doula, postpartum doula, and childbirth educator through CAPPA. She is also certified to teach Hypnobirthing and is a certified Happiest Baby on the Block instructor. Anna is committed to sharing her knowledge with the families she works with and the students that she trains. She is a labor and postpartum doula trainer and also as a certified CAPPA Childbirth Educator Trainer. She trains primarily in Arizona, but offers many trainings throughout the country. For a list of her upcoming trainings please visit chicagofamilydoulas.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org you can also call 312.765.3012.