The role of a doula is fairly well known in the realm of pregnancy and birth, but did you know that many doulas also choose to support a family right through the 4th trimester? The 4th trimester is your postpartum time, the time when parenting really hits you and you feel like you’ve been thrown in to sink or swim. Many of us float. And if you’re a floater, you know what I mean. You may also call it survival parenting, which is when our instincts take over and just allow us to survive. No, it’s not awesome, it doesn’t feel great, but you get through. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I refuse to believe that the transition to parenthood is just destined to be a shit show, with little support and record breaking rates of postpartum depression. Did you know that 11-20% of mothers will experience PPD? But did you also know that those stats are taken from a self-reported study? This means that the rates are likely way higher. There are several factors that contribute to PPD, including fatigue, isolation, declined nutrition, hormones, and lack of support.
A postpartum doula aides in the transition to parenthood, for the first time to the 6th time (or even more!). They come in to your home armed with knowledge, empathy, and tools to support the family. They will provide breastfeeding or bottle feeding support, calming skills for the baby or older children, child care, light housework, meal prep, and referrals to a variety of resources. Some postpartum doulas will also offer different things like baby massage or babywearing guidance. I definitely use babywearing a lot with my clients. Postpartum doulas are essentially your personal trainer for the 4th trimester.
“Postpartum Doulas are a trained professional that provides physical, emotional, and spiritual, support and guidance to a new mother and the rest of the family. The Postpartum Doula is a reference point, assistant and resource for the family in the postpartum period. In addition the Postpartum Doula will also provide breastfeeding support, light household chores, nurture and advice where the family has questions about newborn care and support other members of the family.” ~ Birth Arts International
Postpartum doulas are flexible and willing to work with you based on the needs of your family. Some doulas will stay overnight if that is required, to help with nighttime feedings, or multiples, and some doulas will come a few times a week during the day or evening. It is really a “choose your own adventure” style of support.