10. You haven’t really been around newborns that much. Maybe you babysat and have tons of nieces and nephews, so you’re totally confident about babies…but…you probably didn’t bathe them when they were less than 10 days old, or worry about changing diapers with that umbilical “thingie still hanging on”. You almost definitely didn’t nurse them. You don’t remember them making that noise…. A doula is a trained, experienced newborn caregiver. She’ll show you how to swaddle if you’ve forgotten (or never really “got” it), reassure you that all babies sound like that at 12 days, and help you figure out how to get that carrier on right.
9. A nanny or housekeeper wants to keep her job, we don’t. We’re there to work ourselves out of the job! Our goal from the first visit is to get you comfortable enough with your role as a new mom (or mom of one more) that you tell us you no longer need us; that’s music to our ears.
8. You need to talk to a grown up. That first week was a blur: you had the baby, maybe your partner had the whole week (or more) off, everyone came to see you, you were figuring out feeding and diapers and barely had the energy to do more than stare adoringly at that little face.
But now, you’re home alone with a helpless newborn who, frankly, is not great at conversation. You aren’t sure if you’re doing things right, and you can’t keep calling your mom. Having a doula around means more than just extra hands and knowledge – it means having a listening, non-judgemental friend.
7. That laundry won’t do itself. Unless you have a better dishwasher than I do, it won’t load itself and put away the dishes. Laundry is piling up and even though you know it doesn’t really matter, you can’t stand that the carpets haven’t been vacuumed since before you gave birth. Postpartum doulas help with the light housekeeping so you can concentrate on parenting, and not worry about the house getting totally out of control. We’re not going to clean out your attic or defrost your freezer (do people still do that?) but we’re more than happy to do a few loads of laundry, clean up the kitchen, run the sweeper; all the stuff that makes your house feel like home.
6. Running to the store with a baby seems daunting. You have errands to run and strapping the baby into a carseat, timing it around feeding, and being so tired that you can barely keep your eyes open – it feels like more than you can handle. A postpartum doula will run your local errands for you, or even with you (you’ll have to drive, but we’ll come to help). We even go with you to your doctor’s visit if you want, or stay home with the baby if you want to go by yourself. Picking up the dry cleaning, shopping for those essentials you’re out of, getting prescriptions filled – your doula can do it so you can check it off your list.
5. You need sleep. Overnight doulas care for the baby so you can get some actual sleep. If you’re nursing, the doula will keep the baby out of earshot until he/she actually needs to eat, then after a feeding, will whisk the baby away for diaper changes and soothing, while you go right back to sleep! If you are using expressed milk or formula, hand the baby to your doula and hit the sack for 8 hours! During the day, a doula can take care of the baby so you can get a good long nap, or even a nap and a shower.
4. Big siblings need care, too! Just because you have a baby doesn’t mean your other kids will suddenly be self-sufficient! A doula can make your bigger kids lunch or play with them while you’re nursing, or can care for the baby while you make sure Big Sib doesn’t feel neglected. Doulas have suggestions for including siblings in baby care in ways that are appropriate and may help cut down on the early rivalry.
3. Your body is healing. A placenta detaches and basically leaves a large open wound that is healing. Your hormones are going crazy and you may have spent a day or more in labor; that is hard on your body. If you had a cesarean birth, you had major abdominal surgery and you need to allow that to heal. Having an extra pair of hands, (legs, arms, etc.) around the house means you can spend more time giving your body the time it needs. Remember, it took 9 months to get to this place, it’s not going to “snap back” the moment the baby is out.
2. We have the resources and/or we know where to find them. Need more help with breastfeeding? We know where to send you for help. Not sure if you should call the doctor (or go to the office) with a problem? We can let you know if it’s normal or warrants a call. Having problems with moods after the baby is born? We can refer to you support groups or suggest how and when to talk to your healthcare provider about it. If we don’t know a specialist or answer, we have a network of people to help us find it.
1. We’ve been there. Your partner is great: loving, caring, and helpful, but if they haven’t given birth and had a newborn, it’s just not the same. All of our doulas have given birth, nursed their baby, and lived to tell the tale. We’ve had the aches and the hormone surges and the new-mom freak outs. We’ve been peed on and sleep-deprived and sure we’re doing it all wrong. So when you start to cry and you’re not even sure what you’re crying about, we’ll throw an arm around your shoulders and let you get it out. We’ll reassure you that you’re doing it right. No one should have to mother a newborn (and maybe more!) alone, it’s a challenge that we want to help you overcome so that you get your little one off to the best start. Like Home Depot says, “You can do it, we can help.”
Check out our entire Doula Top 10 Series here.