Postpartum Doula Support
Imagine with me for just a moment.. You have spent the past two days “skin to skin” with your newborn in absolute adoration. You have shared every waking moment in awe of this precious new addition to your life. You have been given around the clock support at the hospital along with nutritional food which is brought to your lap at least three times per day. If at any moment you question whether your newborn is getting enough milk, you just press a button and a Lactation Consultant comes running your way. If you are ever uncertain of your baby’s cues or signals, you press another button and an RN will join you to bring assurance.
Now the moment has come to diaper and dress your newborn, check the straps on their car seat, sit down gently in your wheelchair to make your way through the hallway, down the elevator and into your awaiting car for your first trip home with your pint-sized family member. This moment is full of excitement and joy…and often trepidation. The thought that you might leave your baby on the top of the car in their car seat while driving away could actually graze your thoughts. The idea that you might not have enough milk to keep your baby alive could concern you. It is even possible that your baby might cry the entire way home and you may wonder if you will ever learn how to calm them down. These are all very real and daunting fears.
I remember the drive home from the birth center with our first child like it was yesterday. I was two weeks and three days past my expected due date. We had gone for our last ultrasound to assure that our baby was still thriving in utero and my amniotic fluids were still sufficient. It was his time to be born and we all knew it. I looked at my husband and parents and told them I would not go home until I had a baby in my arms. We lived in Washington DC at the time and it was early December. The weather was cool and not suitable for outside activities. So, it was time to go the movies. We paid for a day of matinees, bought gummy bears and gummy worms from the kiosk vender and off we marched to our first viewing of Alien Resurrection, soon to be followed up with Mr. Bean the movie. Mind you, it was 1997 and the movie selections were limited. Without saying a word to my husband, I sat through two double features, breathing and telling myself, “this can’t be labor”. I think we were the only people in the theater because at every break that I could get, I would power walk up and down the theater aisles as fast as I could. For good measure, I would skip and leap like a frog up the aisles to ensure labor. Well..it worked! By the time Mr. Bean was walking around with a Turkey stuck on his head, I signaled to my husband it was time to go. I squatted every minute or two as we walked out of the theater into the evening rain. I remember thinking, why was everyone watching me and looking at me weird. Once in the car, every bump brought greater misery to my soul. I made everyone in the car be silent. Even the noise of the engine made me grimace. By the time we arrived at the birth center, I felt for sure I could not do this anymore. “Get this baby out” was the voice screaming in my head. I was 5-6 cm and in full active labor and I thought, “there is no way that I still need to labor more!” Thank goodness there would be a jacuzzi tub awaiting me upstairs to labor in. Hydrotherapy is no joke! Well, as you can imagine active labor took over and I was pushing my 8 pound 9 ounce baby boy out just 10 minutes after midnight. Being that he was born in a birth center, it is protocol to leave the center within a few hours after birth. This sounded overwhelming to me and I begged the midwives to let me sleep until morning. They consented and after a bite of homemade quiche and a sip of OJ, I was side lying, nursing our precious newborn and sleeping on and off. The sun came up sooner than I had anticipated and it was time for me to shower, dress myself and head home with our little nugget in tow. As we packed our little guy into his recycled car seat and bundled him up to keep him warm, both my husband and I turned around and looked in the back seat of our red Pathfinder to see these huge, junior mint sized, brown eyes staring holes into us. It was at that very moment that I realized I had no idea what I was doing.
For the next two weeks, all I could work on was learning to feed my baby, feed myself, sleep within short intervals of time, rest my “birth war torn” body, and keep my baby dry, warm, continuously fed and ALIVE! This is the reason that I offer Postpartum Doula Services. With it, I hope to provide the immediate emotional and physical support that aids the thriving relationship between the newborn and mother. It takes two weeks to successfully get our newborns to eat well and gain their birth weight back and more. It takes the first 6 weeks after birth to learn how to live with the new norms of motherhood. My goal as a Certified Lactation Educator and Counselor and a postpartum doula, as well as a seasoned mother of four, is to be a resource that facilitates peace, confidence and grace to the new mothers that I serve.