This might be a bit shocking to hear from the owner of a doula agency. After all, we hope you’ll hire us to help you prepare for birth with one of our childbirth classes, support you prenatally and at your baby’s birth as birth doulas, help you recover quickly with placenta encapsulation, AND help you adjust to life at home with a newborn as postpartum doulas. It’s true. I want to you to get all.the.things.
But let’s say you only have the budget to do either birth doula support or postpartum doula support. You might ask me:
“Which kind of doula do I need the most?”
My answer: postpartum doula support.
Of course, the support birth doulas bring to growing families in pregnancy and labor is invaluable. Not only do I think so, but our clients tell us that every day. Just recently I attended a birth where the mother told me, “You’re worth 10 times what we paid you!” It’s super flattering and rewarding to hear that.
In my experience as a childbirth educator, certified birth doula, postpartum doula and certified postpartum placenta specialist, the biggest black hole in the pregnancy-new baby experience is after coming home from the birth facility.
Here are some the key areas that I see families struggle:
Expectation versus reality. Most new parents are simply unprepared for the utter lack of sleep and overwhelm their baby brings. Many new mothers and fathers are also surprised to find out how much a baby cries. They’re shocked to find out how much physical effort 24/7 care of a baby requires.
General lack of knowledge. What does this cry mean? How much should baby eat? How often? How do I know when she’s had enough? Am I making enough milk? When should she sleep? For how long? These are questions we routinely help new parents find answers to.
Sleep. No one feels themselves when they are chronically exhausted.
There are families, of course, to whom these needs don’t apply. Perhaps they grew up in a large family and have first-hand experience regularly caring for babies. However, it seems that more and more, we grow as humans disconnected from child-rearing. The more that we separate from how babies sleep, feed and grow on a daily basis, the more new parents will struggle in the initial postpartum period. Luckily, postpartum doulas are there to help ease the strain.
In truth, there isn’t a bad decision to be made here – you’re going to get great support no matter which kind you choose. If you’re unsure what would work best for you, we’d love to talk more about how we can help you have a better birth and postpartum experience.