What type of care does a Postpartum Doula provide?
The Greek word “doula” has come to mean “a woman who serves women”
Postpartum Doulas today are certified professionals, trained in infant and adult CPR, who engage with the mothers, fathers, and families offering nonjudgmental support, education, and companionship while providing evidence-based information for new parents.
The postpartum period is an intense time of transition for you, emotionally and physically, but also for the whole family especially if this is your first baby. This time is often called the fourth trimester and needs to be acknowledged as that. We Postpartum Doulas provide the service, care, and support for all who are part of providing for a newborn with a focus on the emotional, physical, and informational aspects.
Postpartum Doulas take care of all types of women ranging from working mothers to students just starting out. No matter how prepared for baby you feel, the sudden release of hormones in the first weeks after delivery combined with physical discomfort can be so strong that mood swings, crying, and depression can often catch anyone off guard. These are the baby-blues.
The baby-blues are a very normal occurrence and as a trained Postpartum Doula we understand this process and can help the mother, partner, and family work through this trying time. Caring for an emotionally struggling mother can be very difficult for a partner or other family members as it is assumed that a new mother who just gave birth to a sweet and healthy baby should be happy all the time. Well, it isn’t so!
Having had many conversations with fathers and extended family members helping them understand that these conflicting feelings are a normal part of the healing process, I have noticed a change in their demeanor, and it has created a more supportive partnership and family environment going forward. This change in environment helps to relieve stress not only on the mother but on the partner and other family members as well.
By reducing the feelings of anxiety, pressure, and sometimes even isolation, the overall healing process for the mother can begin. Better breastmilk production, nursing success and an overall calmness aids in resolving the baby-blues.
A trained postpartum doula will be able to recognize if the baby-blues are taking too long to overcome and observe the mother closely to see if she is able to shed the sadness quickly. It is different for every woman but if the blues are not going away a recommendation to seek professional help is given.
New mothers need a lot of “mothering” themselves! Many mothers discover that when they come home from the delivery they become critical of themselves and their image, leading to unrealistic expectations of when their body will or needs to be back in shape. Starting a diet too soon and thoughts of being viewed as unattractive can often lead to further isolation.
By providing nurturing care such as demonstrating proper food preparation, light massages, wound care, and all-around comfort we help keep mom’s expectations in check, improve her body-image, and give mothers the space to recover by enhancing the healing process. Providing the mother with much needed time to sleep and to shower along with a healthy dose of self-care cannot be underestimated when your body is still aching from a lengthy delivery and when post-delivery pains are still present.
Becoming a new parent can be a bit overwhelming at first and given the right support it will greatly improve your experience and reduce the stress level. Accepting the new reality that your baby needs to eat every 2.5-3 hours around the clock doesn’t always settle in quickly for a breastfeeding mother. Around the clock support will ease this transition and help prevent sleep deprivation which in turn can worsen the baby-blues.
As a Certified Postpartum Doula (CPPD) and Certified Infant Feeding Specialist (CIFS) I focus on educating parents and family members on:
- Infant feeding practices (nursing positions and latching support)
- Infant soothing techniques
- How to hold your newborn
- Proper diapering
- Hygiene procedures
- Nose suction safety and devices
- Swaddling techniques
- Best burping techniques
- Recommended sleeping positions for you and your newborn
- The mechanics of breast pumps
- Monitoring tools and devices
and much more.
Most importantly I help instill in you the confidence and the “YES YOU CAN” attitude along with coping skills, education and increase confidence in your new role as a parent. Choosing the right personal care products for mother and baby, such as nursing pads and nipple balm.
As Postpartum Doulas we are also a companion, listening to the mother, providing additional options and resources. Because of our training we can identify a deviation from a normal postpartum recovery, the baby’s appearance, behavior, and breastfeeding issues which can lead to referrals to the pediatrician and or the primary care provider.
Additionally, during postpartum care, Postpartum Doulas may also help the family with:
- Infant and mother advocacy
- Partner/father support
- Support mother/father with infant
- Support mother/father with sibling(s)
- Providing basic nutrition and meal examples
- Household organization
Now that many women are having babies away from their families, many are finding themselves in uncharted waters as the traditional family support is often no longer able to come visit due to travel restrictions from Covid19 or for other personal reasons. If you are from a foreign country or are in a new place with no family or friends near, and in addition struggle with a language barrier, choosing the support of a bi-lingual Postpartum Doula may be the right choice for you.
For more information on Postpartum Doula Care please visit:
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About the Author, Felicia Winograd, CPPD, CIFS
I was born and raised in Germany and grew up in Munich where I attended the Waldorf School.
There I was surrounded by and cared for many children in our community. After graduating with a business degree, and a masters degree in Botany and Horticulture I traveled the world for a whole year, experiencing and observing different cultures around the globe and learned new ways to care for children and the elderly.
Family dynamics and motherhood have always been my interest as well as caring for many single mothers/parents who struggle to make a difference in their children’s life. This experience prepared me for many of the current challenges new families and single mothers face today socially, emotionally, and financially.
I moved to the United States in 1985 and gave birth to my son in 1990. Struggling as a new mother with nursing problems, sleep deprivation and postpartum blues, I learned very quickly that this is harder than anyone leads you to believe.
I then realized it does not have to be this hard and as the years flew by and my experiences grew deeper, friends and family came to me for advice and support after their newborn arrived. I knew then that my path is leading me to become a professionally trained and certified Postpartum Doula (CPPD) and infant feeding specialist (CIFS). I now support all my clients and can draw from a wide range of experiences as well as recommending resources I trust.