By Guest Blogger, Sandra Eisenberg- Postpartum Doula
The simple answer to this question is: EVERYONE needs a post-partum doula. To further explain let me first say that while the event of birth is not, as it is so often treated, an emergency, it is an “emergent” situation in every sense of the word. And while everyone is aware that babies “emerge” with many needs; not everyone is aware of or remembers that the WHOLE FAMILY (whoever that includes) emerges from this event with different needs. These include many that they may not have anticipated and may even feel blind-sided by. This can easily get to a point of being unsettling and disturbing.
Mom must incorporate this gigantic experience she has had into her realm, while she functions with a newborn. Regardless of what the birth was like, this must happen. Physical healing must happen and be supported. Siblings must be attended to. Fathers/significant others have to adjust to a shift of enormous magnitude in their lives. Unexpected and/or unforeseen emotions and circumstances frequently come into play. The world is altered. Parents may be elated, anxious, overjoyed, overwhelmed, uncertain, ambivalent, intoxicated [with the baby], vulnerable, fluctuating between and amongst emotions. This will all vary from person to person, but one thing is common to all: people are getting less sleep and are tired, fatigued or exhausted.
The impact of this lack of sleep plays a very serious and central role in how things proceed for the family. Help must be available. Practical help with baby care, laundry, food-provision, other children, household organization must be in place.
Support for breastfeeding must be available where needed. Someone to calm and validate fears and worries of new parents is especially critical. A listener to the new mother/father/significant other/siblings as they give voice to how they are feeling is key; the story of the birth may need to be repeated many times as it is now such a momentous part of peoples’ lives. The impact of an appropriate support person cannot be underestimated, but is often unforeseen.
This is where the post-partum doula comes in. Throughout history the special care needed by a new baby and mother has been given by the family and community. So many cultures throughout the world still have in place the kind of protective situation that is required when a baby is born. Our current society, however, does not. This is why so many people run into trouble.
The post-partum doula gently guides and supports in whatever ways necessary without taking over or making decisions. She may listen, cook, change diapers, soothe both baby and parents, give attention to siblings, do laundry, provide nursing snacks, linen-changes, or perform any number of other relieving behaviors and tasks. Each situation will require different services from the post-partum doula, and she will adapt to each situation as necessary. The beginning days and weeks are the prime time for the post-partum doula. Initiating breastfeeding and adjusting to the fragile new life are just some of the reasons for this. She will nurture the family while they become accustomed to THEIR new nurturing roles.
Personally, I like to be sure, among other things, to pay attention to the nutrition of the mother and family. As previously stated, sleep is at a premium and this is of paramount importance. Sleep deprivation may be unavoidable for a while, but attempts must be made to avoid its effects gaining momentum. The mother’s body has healing to do, on whatever scale. Emotions are tending to run high. Everyone is in a state of flux. People being properly nourished with healing foods can aid greatly with all of this. Another fundamental piece is that nourishment and hydration needs to happen at steady intervals. The role of maintaining balanced blood sugar levels and being adequately hydrated too frequently goes unnoticed. Attention to these can considerably improve stressful situations.
To all who are awaiting the arrival of new family member(s):CONGRATULATIONS!! Nothing could be more exciting. I hope this provides some “food for thought” as you make your preparations.
Post-partum doula-DONA trained
About Healing Hands Chiropractic:
Healing Hands is a family wellness center that offers family chiropractic care, acupuncture, cognitive-behavioral therapy, reiki & aromatherapy, massage therapy, La Leche League breastfeeding groups and pregnancy & birth classes. To learn more about Dr. Jessica Caruso and Healing Hands Chiropracticplease visit www.HealingHandsNH.com or call (603)434-3456.