So you may heave heard about postnatal or postpartum doulas, but what do they do? Are they like a cleaner? Do they just drink lots of tea and talk with you? You might have family members coming to help out so you're covered, right?
The idea of having tailored postpartum support is very new in Perth and Australia, I often get asked what I do because people just don't know.
Imagine having a sister-friend-aunty-mum person in your home to love you and help out. Now imagine that there's none of the baggage that family or friendships can sometimes bring.
- an extra pair of hands around the house for cooking, cleaning and helping with baby
- a nonjudgemental ear to listen and a companion through tricky times (yes, this sometimes includes drinking tea)
- suggestions for ideas you may not have thought of with feeding, sleep and your household
- someone who is there for you, backing you 100%
- someone making sure the you, the mamma is fed, hydrated and well cared for
- having a flow chart of current information referring parents to other resources they may need
I received this incredible testimonial from a dear client - friend of mine and I'm sharing it with you because she explains so perfectly all of the things that a postnatal doula aims to do:
An ode to Frances
July 2015. I had the most beautiful 3 month old baby boy with the brightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. He also didn’t sleep. Or should I say, rarely slept. We live on the other side of the country to my family and on the other side of the world to my husband’s family. My husband’s job was taking him overseas for a stint and I found myself alone with this tiny, beautiful baby; at the edge of my limits in terms of survival. That’s when Frances came into our lives. She was the order to my chaos, right from her first step inside, things would magically be tidied in her wake. I can’t imagine what I looked like when we first met, I dread to think, but there was instantly a connection between us. Perhaps it was the ease with which she came into our home and just made things better by been there. I’m not sure exactly, but her presence is so warm and open and calm that I can’t help but feel reassured whenever she’s around.
At first I thought that it was merely about surviving while my husband was away. I needed an extra pair of hands just to manage things, to hold the baby while I had a moment to myself, or to make my dinner, or bath the baby. But it was so much more than that. It was the emotional support that Frances provided that was really key. Oh, and her ability to make the best cups of tea ever!
Discussions with Frances about any of the challenges we were facing was thought provoking and encouraging. She never seemed to be pushing her own agenda or offering her own opinions, but she had knowledge about things and ideas and strategies I hadn’t heard of. Talking to her about things such as newborn sleep and feeding is like tapping into a greater knowledge base. And she followed up as well, if there was something I might have mentioned that she hadn’t heard of, she’d research it and get back to you. In some ways this makes what Frances does so much more helpful than a well-meaning relative or friend lending a hand, because ultimately Frances is there for you, the Mummy, and she’s in your corner, not offering some unwanted opinion or imposing her own view on you.
And so when my husband returned from abroad, Frances became a regular member of our team. She came a few times per week to help out until baby was about 6 months old and we were able to find our own feet – and he started sleeping at night! I still consider her part of our village though and even though little man is now a vivacious 16 month old, we still catch up perhaps now more as friends, but I know if we ever venture down the path of a sibling I think I’d be calling her before the obstetrician!
Mr Cutie Patootie's Mum, aka Nic
To summarise what this dear mama said, a postnatal doula provides whatever it is that the mama needs to feel supported.
Postnatal doulas aim to have every mother feeling confident and supported.
Have you had your own experience with a postpartum doula?
How was it for you? Do you have any questions or comments?
Ask your friendly neighbourhood doula anything below: