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Discover How a Postpartum Doula Can Elevate Your New Parenting Experience

mama holding her newborn baby out in front of her and they're both smiling at each other. photograph taken by la mirada newborn photographer Alaina Nunez

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of navigating life after giving birth? If so, you’re not alone!

Today I’ve got the inside scoop on a fantastic service that can make a world of difference in your postpartum journey: hiring a postpartum doula!

These incredible caring professionals are here to support, educate, and nurture you during those crucial first weeks with your newborn.

Orange County Postpartum Doula Danielle, is sharing all about the postpartum experience and her tips for a smooth transition to life with a new baby!

Photo of Danielle with her beautiful family… credit to the photographer

What is a postpartum doula and how do they differ from a birth doula?

One commonly hears of birth doulas. They are present in hospitals, birth centers and home births. They have a powerful role to provide emotional and physical support for the laboring mother and also play a special role in guiding the birthing mama’s partner to stay engaged, connected, and empowered through the process. The general logistics involve prenatal meetings to prepare for birth, support during labor and birth, and one or two postpartum visits. 

A postpartum doula is a woman coming and going quietly. She is a proponent of peace. She cooks, cleans, feeds, is a shoulder to cry on, and a pillar of strength for a new family. A postpartum doula eases the transition at home for a family bringing in a new baby. The general logistics of a postpartum doula look like one or two prenatal meetings to get to know each other and the birth plans. Postpartum care looks like daytime support and even overnight assistance over the course of 3 to 6 months post-birth. The type of care and support depend on the individual needs of the family. 

What inspired you to become a postpartum doula?

When we are pregnant, we receive lots of attention. There are constant doctor/midwife appointments, ultrasounds, baby showers. Then the day(s) of birth finally arrive and that is the climax, the great crescendo. A few days later, mama is rocking the baby at home and visitors come and go, excited to meet the new addition, but usually not to provide the support a mother really needs. A few weeks go by and there are no more visitors. The birth high has worn off (for mom and family) and hormones are shifting. The doctors, midwives, and birth doulas are no longer present. There is often a little hint of darkness that can creep in for mom.

Postpartum was especially difficult for two of my three births. I realized how much support is lacking during the postpartum period, which can last for any length of time depending on the woman and her circumstances. I didn’t even realize there was such a thing as a postpartum doula! God helped me to realize that I could bless other women with the support that I, and so many of us, long for in that season of motherhood. I love to serve women. Women deserve more than a one-week old newborn check and a 6 week postpartum visit just to be prescribed birth control. Women deserve rest, comfort, nourishment and emotional support. I am so passionate about birth, and especially passionate about the health and well-being of mothers in their postpartum season. We do a great job of preparing for birth, but don’t often think to prepare for all that is involved in healing from birth and beginning the journey with a new baby.  

How do you help parents maintain a strong bond and open communication during the postpartum period?

The postpartum season is really when relationships can get shaky and feel uncertain on both sides. Mom and dad have individual needs and they are adjusting to this new life with baby number 1 (or 2, 3, 4…). I encourage my couples to pray together. Our Father is so kind and gracious and is ready and willing to guide us. I also encourage deep conversation with my clients and get to the heart of where they are emotionally and physically. If there are some relational hiccups going on, I offer suggestions to mend them. In addition to that, I try to catch dad privately and offer him encouragement. Dads absolutely experience the postpartum season as well! I offer him little ways to connect with his wife and simple ways to serve her so he feels included and purposeful in this new role. If there are fears surrounding the new baby, we address those as well and ease whatever tension may be there. I always give my couples the opportunity to go spend some quick one-on-one time together while I care for the baby. That could look like getting snuggled up and taking a nap, going for a walk together, or taking a relaxing shower together. Intimacy is important (and so is sleep!) and there is room for gentle intimacy in the postpartum days. 

Can you provide any postpartum care for the new mom, such as helping with recovery after a C-section or assisting with perineal care?

I have not personally experienced a c-section, but I have cared for a handful of women who have. I am happy to help with that recovery. I did experience significant perineal trauma and can assist mothers with perineal healing as well. Unfortunately, many providers ignore perineal trauma and all that goes into healing and repairing that strong, but delicate tissue. 

What are some common emotional challenges faced by new parents, and how do you help them cope?

Emotional challenges are so unique to each family. The most common would be stress surrounding breastfeeding, negative emotions from a change in the birth plan, and oftentimes fear of having this new little human that needs 24/7 care. First and foremost, I believe prayer is a powerful tool. God designed birth and the family unit, and He can help us through the hard parts. After prayer, I encourage talking! Talking it all out, or at least journaling things out. We want to identify the negative feelings and give them a name. I don’t want emotions to stay bottled up inside. I am not a therapist, but we can dig a little deeper into some possible past trauma. Depending on the challenge being experienced, if it is in my scope of care we can proceed together. If it is out of my scope of care, or I feel that someone else could better support, then I will lovingly refer out. Community is such a blessing! 

What is your availability and what is the process for hiring you as a postpartum doula?

I currently serve 2 clients a month. I offer a free consultation for us to get to know each other, exchange expectations and see if we are a good fit for each other. If so, then we discuss different levels and timelines of support that I offer. I believe all mothers deserve support, and while this is a method of income for my family, I am flexible with pricing and payment if the situation calls for it. We can discuss all of that in our consultation. 

The postpartum period can be both incredibly rewarding and challenging, so having the support of a knowledgeable, compassionate professional can make all the difference!

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