I didn't always want to be a postpartum doula.
I thought that birth was where it was at. Birth is exciting. Birth is unpredictable. I feel very useful at a birth. I was afraid that postpartum work would be mostly comprised of doing dishes and changing diapers. However, I took a leap and got myself to a training.
I learned SO MUCH about what postpartum doulas do and don't do at that training! My first shift serving a client sealed the deal for me. I fell in love with postpartum care. To give you a taste, I'd like to walk you through what a typical day with a postpartum doula might look like, from a parent's perspective.
The doula arrives at your home, a little early for her 9:00 shift. You are thankful because you just finished nursing the baby and are STARVING! She brought your favorite drink from Starbucks, per your request, and as soon as she arrives, she asks, "Have you eaten? Do you need me to refill your water cup?"
You hand your baby to the doula so you can sit down and eat the breakfast she prepared for you. The doula admires your baby and makes sure their diaper is clean and dry. You two chat about how last night went (you didn't get any sleep because the baby was up every hour nursing!) and about your goals for the day.
Your doula notices and points out some subtle signs that your baby might be ready to settle for a nap. You are filled with dread, because the baby has been refusing to sleep in the crib, and you do NOT want to spend an hour trapped on the couch with nothing but your phone to keep you company. No worries! The doula remembers that you've been wanting to see if the baby will tolerate being worn in your ring sling. She puts on the ring sling, expertly and safely snuggling your baby into the pouch. Your baby is soothed by the movement and warmth, and drifts easily to sleep.
You decide to take a nap while the doula does some vacuuming and other light housekeeping tasks while wearing your baby.
You awaken from your nap to the doula gently rousing you. The baby has woken up and is showing some hunger cues! She helps you get settled with your pillows just how you like them, refills your water cup, and hands you the baby, who is in a fresh diaper. Breastfeeding has been going relatively well, and the baby is gaining weight adequately, but your nipples have been so sore! The doula helps you to slightly adjust how you're holding your baby, and helps you get a better latch. You are delighted to find your nipple completely comfortable!
While your baby eats, you tell the doula about how you're so afraid of going back to work. You're not sure if you'll be able to keep up breastfeeding, and you're worried because you haven't even tried pumping yet. Your doula validates your concerns and helps you come up with a plan to begin pumping a little every day in order to build a small stash for when you return to work. She gets your breast pump out of the closet, shows you how to assemble the parts and what all the buttons and knobs do. Since you haven't even opened it yet, she cleans and sterilizes the pieces so that it will be ready to use when you need it.
You've been wanting to get out of the house for a short walk. The weather has been so nice, but you cannot figure out how to put your stroller together! Again, your doula fairy godmother lays your worries to rest. She helps you read through the instructional booklet and assemble the stroller while the baby happily plays on the tummy time mat.
By now, you're ready for lunch. The doula re-heats the leftovers from the amazing freezer meal you had for dinner last night (she helped you batch cook a month's worth of meals last week!) and again holds and talks to the baby while you eat. After you finish, you are ready for your walk, but the baby is showing some sleepy cues again. You talk through the options and decide to let the doula try to get the baby to nap in the crib. The doula helps you get all set and ready to go. During your leisurely stroll, your doula somehow, magically gets the baby to sleep soundly in the crib! She then washes, folds, and puts away a load of baby laundry, and sets out a freezer meal to thaw for dinner.
You return from your walk, invigorated by the fresh air. The doula is leaving at 2, and she's already completed all of the tasks you had on the to-do list. The baby is still napping. You suddenly remember that you haven't yet mailed your birth announcements! The doula stamps and stuffs the envelopes while you address them.
The baby is awake and hungry! Your doula helps you get all settled into your nursing nook, grabs you a snack and refills your water before getting ready to leave.
Of course, every baby and family is unique, so this is just one example of how a postpartum doula might be of help to you. Your postpartum doula is an expert in attuning to your needs and meeting you where you are that day. Sometimes the shift is as simple as helping you and the baby to just sleep, eat, and bathe, and that's perfectly normal too! At Louisiana Baby Company, our postpartum doulas are experts in infant care, normal recovery from vaginal or cesarean births, and helping the whole family adjust to the new normal of having a brand new baby in the home. It's an investment you won't regret!