Women today in this country are very lucky to have access to exceptional prenatal care from midwives, physicians, and obstetricians (and locally from Healing Hands Chiropractic!). They have a variety of options available to them for labor and delivery as well: hospitals, home births, free standing birth centers, etc. Prenatal care and choices for birth have really come a long way over the last few decades in the United States. However, I believe there has been a detrimental decline in one large area: postpartum care.
Throughout pregnancy, women are consistently seen by their care providers. However, after having the baby they are lucky to have a two-week follow up appointment with most only having a six-week follow up appointment. An OB nurse practitioner who I spoke with recently said she feels badly for her patients that she sees at their six week check-ups. “I’m supposed to be checking their physical recovery from birth,” she said, “but they all come in here crying and I just don’t have time to give them the support they need.”
Enter the postpartum doula! Postpartum doulas are knowledgeable professionals who assist families during the critical period immediately after the birth of their baby. They “mother the mother” and offer physical, emotional and informational support to the family, as well as practical help. The doula’s expertise in mother and baby care enables her to assist with postpartum comfort measures, breastfeeding support, non-judgmental guidance in infant care techniques, information on normal postpartum restoration, and family emotional assistance through this major transition.
These doulas provide essential support during the modern postpartum experience, a time when many mothers today feel uninformed, isolated and anxious. Traditionally, the postpartum period was a “nesting period,” when a new mother was attended to by other experienced mothers. They helped take care of her and her family, so that the mother could focus on the vital tasks of postpartum recovery, emotional adaptation to great change and getting to know her precious little one.
Today few families have such support, and frequently become exhausted and overwhelmed by the immense work of becoming parents. Postpartum doulas gently guide and support families through this transition so that they may get off to the best start with their new baby.
Instead of focusing on changes that need to be made with our healthcare system, I’d like to focus on societal changes that we can instantly start working on now -on an individual basis.
So, what can you do?
If you are pregnant:
- Complete a Postpartum Plan which can help you draft a list of postpartum resources that are available to you: http://www.dona.org/resources/doula_practice_postpartum.php
- Hire a postpartum doula, to find one in your area, click here: www.dona.org
- Call your insurance company now to find out if they will cover postpartum care and if not, if your Flex Spending Account will.
- Line up friends and family to cook meals and deliver them to you. If your friends are lousy cooks, hire a personal chef like The Dinner Goddess in Epping (http://www.thedinnergoddess.com/) or check out some meal registry sites like www.mealbaby.com
- Search out places to meet other new moms, like the La Leche League meetings at Healing Hands, Mom & Baby Yoga or Music classes and other Mommy & Me groups. www.meetup.com is a great place to find people! Include these ideas in your Postpartum Plan so you have them written down once the baby arrives.
If you have a new baby:
- Ask for help! People always ask if there is anything they can do to help – take them up on it! Say “Yes, please come hold the baby so I can shower.” Or “Please cook me a pot of soup.”
- It’s not too late to hire a postpartum doula if you need to. To find one in your area, click here: www.dona.org
- Reach out to other new moms. Get out of the house at least a few times a week. See #5 above.
- Remember you are not alone. Motherhood is hard and is better when you are getting the support you need.
- Push aside the thank you notes, step over the laundry basket and GO TAKE A NAP!
Darcy Sauers is a certified postpartum doula and the owner of Dover Doula (www.doverdoula.com) in the Seacoast area. As a member of both the Seacoast Doula Group (www.seacoastdoula.com) and Great Bay Doulas (www.greatbaydoulas.com), she is passionately committed to helping new moms find the support, resources and information that they need. Darcy is very happy that moms in Southern NH are lucky to have such a wonderful prenatal and postpartum resource in Dr. Jess and Healing Hands Chiropractic. Please do not hesitate to contact Darcy with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-988-5945. For more information on the postpartum period and local resources and events for new moms, follow her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000200069253)