postpartum doula featured image

What is a postpartum doula?

You’ve probably heard of a birth doula, but have you heard of a postpartum doula?

A postpartum doula, as I like to put it, is a magical unicorn. I mean, we come and help out with baby, take care of Mom, and make sure that all is well at your home. It is pretty magical (and the whole unicorn thing just kinda sounds good alongside it).

Why have one?

Basically, a postpartum doula is there to “mother the mother”. The postpartum period is a really, really, REALLY hard one-you’re navigating hormones while learning how to take care of your baby while dealing with the physical aftermath of birth.

This is not something that any person should have to deal with alone. Ever. Even when there is a partner(s) available to help out they’re often dealing with the same “newness” themselves and are also depleted and overwhelmed. Having a postpartum doula come in can alleviate the pressure for both/all parents and allow them to get some rest.

Your postpartum doula will be able to refer you to community programs and provide you with resources. They are also keenly aware of what the symptoms of Postpartum Depression and/or Anxiety look like in parents and can offer assistance in finding professional help if need be.

What will they do?

Every family has their own unique list of needs. What might work for one family might not work for another. This is a conversation that your postpartum doula and your family need to have to ensure that you’re getting the most of having your postpartum doula there.

Some of the tasks that your postpartum doula might do are:

-newborn care support (diapering, burping, bathing, etc.)

-breastfeeding support

-assist with household organization for ease of transition into life with a newborn

-light housekeeping

-emotional support and mental health check-ins for parents

-help with older siblings transitioning to having a baby sibling

-care for baby while parent(s) nap, involve themselves in self care, or step out of the home

-provide resources for local community services

-meal prep, planning, and/or grocery shopping

-light pet care

Who needs a postpartum doula?

Do you need a postpartum doula for when your baby arrives? Find out exactly what a postpartum doula does and if you need one!

EVERYONE!

It doesn’t matter if this is your first baby or 14th baby (actually, a postpartum doula is highly recommended in both of these situations)! Vaginal birth or cesarean birth. Parents with twins. Parents who have adopted.

Everyone who has a newborn can benefit immensely from having a postpartum doula come to their home.

Folks who are lacking familial or partner support, are trying to maintain a business during their postpartum period, have had traumatic births or experiences, are having breastfeeding struggles, or are at high risk for Postpartum mood disorders can potentially benefit most from having postpartum doula services.

What education is required?

In order to be considered a Postpartum doula, you have to take a course through an accredited Doula agency. For example, I took my course through DONA as theirs were the values that I most related with and felt most comfortable advocating.

Within this course a postpartum doula will learn about:

Breastfeeding-how to help a new parent establish a breastfeeding relationship with their child, the physiological responses that occur in the body while a milk supply is being established, breastfeeding positions, the hormones that contribute to various aspects of breastfeeding, potential challenges that can arise with breastfeeding and how to problem solve to create a positive and effective breastfeeding relationship between parent and child.

Birth- what is entailed in each form of birth and how to best help in the recovery of the birthing person, what is normal healing, what is abnormal, and when to suggest seeing a doctor. (**Postpartum doulas DO NOT administer any medical tasks nor do they offer medical advice or make diagnoses. They are aware of what is typical but will always encourage you to see your midwife or doctor if you are concerned).

Newborn care-bathing, differences between types/brands of diapers, diapering, bottle feeding, differences between baby carriers, soothing techniques, teaching strategies for new parents, developmental milestone awareness, burping, getting baby dressed, newborn characteristics.

Emotional support-listening to new parents as they divulge their struggles, assess new parents for postpartum mood disorders, encouraging new parents to rest, understanding what needs to be done without being asked to do it (i.e. making meals, getting groceries, light housekeeping), nurturing new parents, providing resources that could be beneficial for the parents.

Family dynamics-introducing baby to older siblings, helping older siblings adjust to their new role, walking pets, feeding pets.

Professionalism-providing care with no judgment or personal bias, maintaining confidentiality with each client, not offering medical advice, respecting the needs and requests of the parent(s), accepting various family dynamics, communicating effectively with clients so that everyone benefits from the interaction between family and postpartum doula.

Questions to ask

Your search for your postpartum doula should begin while you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy to ensure that you have found someone to begin right away when baby arrives.

You can do a quick Google search to find out what postpartum doulas are available in your area. Check their websites to see if you might be able to establish a connection with them, and then consider asking these questions that are recommended by DONA:

-What training have you had? (If a doula is certified, you might consider checking with the organization.)

-Have you had a criminal background check, a recent TB test, current CPT certification?

-Tell me about your experience as a postpartum doula.

-What is your philosophy about parenting supporting women and their families during postpartum?

-May we meet to discuss our postpartum needs and the role you will play in supporting us in the postpartum period?

-What different types of services do you offer?

-May we call you with postpartum questions or concerns before the birth?

-When do your services begin after birth?

-What is your experience in breastfeeding support?

-Do you work with one or more back up doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet them?

-What are your fee and refund policies?

These are all reasonable questions to ask your potential postpartum doula. You may also ask:

-How far are you willing to travel (if you live outside of their service area) and will there be a travel fee?

-What is your general availability?

-Do you offer a night service? What are the fees for that?

The postpartum period is a very intimate one and you will be at your most vulnerable. If you have an interview with a potential postpartum doula and decide that they’re not for you don’t feel bad about kindly declining their services and continuing on your search.

Hiring a postpartum doula is a very personal endeavor. It takes time and energy to find someone that you feel will fit in best with your family in this postpartum period. Often times, postpartum doulas will offer introductory meetings free of charge so make sure you take them up on that. While it’s possible to get a feel for someone via text it’s worthwhile to meet up and see if you jive together in person!

Do you have experience with a postpartum doula aiding you when you welcomed your baby? I’d love to hear about how your experience went.

what you need to know about your first period after childbirth

9 Things to know about your first period after childbirth

You just had yourself a roughly 9-month reprieve from your monthly visit from Aunt Flo, but now that baby is here you have to worry about your first period after childbirth.

Yay.

Don’t be too scared of your postpartum period; once it comes back you’ll remember what to do. It’s kind of like riding a bike (but with more menstrual blood and discomfort, you know?!)

Your first period after childbirth isn’t quite the same as the regular, consistent period that you were once (possibly) used to and there are a few things you need to consider.

What you need to know about your first period after childbirth

You're awaiting your first period after childbirth, but you may want to read this first and get a little more prepared for what's to come.
  1. “Most” folks get their first period after childbirth at around the 6-8 week postpartum mark. However, this is different for each and every person and things like breastfeeding and stress may change that.
  2. It’s going to be unpredictable. Some folks can mark it in the calendar exactly when they’re going to be getting their period or they have sure-fire signs that it’s about to grace them with its presence. Your body is still in the process of returning organs back to their original place before baby moved them, so things internally are a little out of whack. You may end up with some symptoms that you think are premenstrual but are just normal post-baby body things.
    You may find that your periods are off-track for quite some time and take a while to regulate again. For the first year especially you may experience some periods that are longer than others, fluctuating lengths of your cycle, and periods that are heavier than others.
  3. Your first period after childbirth may take longer to come back if you’re breastfeeding. Your hormone levels continue to fluctuate significantly when you’re breastfeeding. This can have an impact on when your menses might start up again after having baby.
  4. Depending on when you get your first period after childbirth you may not want to jump back into using tampons, especially if you’re closer to the 6-8 week postpartum mark. This is something that you’ll need to base on your comfort level, but it’s also worthwhile having a chat with your midwife or doctor in one of your postpartum visits to get their insight on when tampons are appropriate.

    **If this is your first baby and you wanted to give the Diva Cup a go-round make sure you read about which one is going to be best for your vagina now that you’ve had a baby or if you’re over 30. I highly recommend the Diva Cup but recommend you have a bit of patience learning how to get that sucker in properly. It takes a bit of practice but at the end of it you won’t be afraid of getting all up in yourself-I promise.**
  5. You don’t need to be as prepared for your first period after childbirth as you might think you do! If you’re used to unpredictable periods you probably have gotten into the habit of carrying hygiene products around with you wherever you go. Now that you’re carrying around a BABY and everything that they need you may have gotten out of that routine. Fortunately for you, you’re likely carrying around the ultimate premenstrual pad with you at all times: a diaper! (Unless you’re me and you forgot diapers all the friggin’ time and had to ask random folks with or without babies if they happened to have a spare diaper on them. It worked better than you might think). Seriously, if you’re in a pinch take that tiny little diaper out, remove the tabs, and shove it down your pants. It’s less bulky than you imagine and is way more absorbent than any pad I’ve ever encountered.
  6. Your first period after childbirth may affect your breastmilk! Okay, don’t freak out. It’s usually not a major impact, but you may notice that your baby is acting a bit out of sorts. Your menses can alter the taste of your breastmilk, as well as the quantity you make. These slight changes shouldn’t shift your ability to breastfeed.
  7. Your first period after childbirth may be a little more intense than you’re used to. You may find that your cramping is a little more than before (you have a uterine lining that is still being shed) and you may have some small blood clots that can be a bit alarming. If you feel that it’s too intense and you’re concerned don’t ever hesitate to go to your midwife or doctor as soon as possible.
  8. Lochia is not our first period after childbirth. Lochia is vaginal discharge after you’ve given birth that consists of blood, mucus, and uterine tissue. This is a normal output after a vaginal birth or cesarean birth and can last up to around 10 days with continued spotting up to 6 weeks.
  9. There are some things that you need to watch out for with your first period after childbirth (as per Healthline Parents):
    -soaking through a pad every hour
    -sudden fever
    -bleeding continuously for more than 7 days
    -bleeding that’s accompanied with sudden, severe pain
    -blood clots that are bigger than a softball
    -foul-smelling discharge
    -severe headache
    -trouble breathing
    -pain while urinating
    These symptoms may indicate an infection and require immediate medical attention.

I got my first period after childbirth with my fourth baby in the middle of my Grandmother’s funeral. Thank Goddess I was wearing black and THANK GODDESS I actually had diapers with me that day. That little tidbit of info about the shoving the diaper down the pants thing…ya, that came from experience.

Do you have a funny “first period after childbirth” story?

postpartum care after vaginal birth

How to: Postpartum care after a vaginal birth

This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase something I recommend in this post I may receive a commission at no cost to you.

You spent 40 ish long weeks trying to keep the fact that your growing baby would eventually be coming out of your vagina off the forefront of your mind.

I mean, you had to acknowledge it and prepare for it because being blindsided by THAT would be unfortunate. It’s in your best interest to become knowledgable on the process of having a vaginal birth. This will ensure that you can be informed and EMPOWERED in your journey and make decisions that are best suited to you.

Now that you’ve had your baby you can’t help but be reminded that your baby did come out of your vagina and you’re looking for some relief.

When it comes to postpartum care of your wonderful vagina after a vaginal birth there are some do’s and don’t’s. Of course, these are suggestions from a person who’s experienced vaginal birth, but I’m not a midwife or doctor. If you have concerns PLEASE go to your healthcare professional.

When it comes to postpartum care of your vagina after a vaginal birth there are some natural ways you can help heal.

Do’s and Don’ts of taking care of your vagina after vaginal birth

Don’t:

Use tampons or a diva cup for around 6 weeks and after the a-ok from your health care provider. Once you’ve got the all clear you may not even have to worry about your period for quite some time like some incredibly fortunate folks with a uterus….but if you’re like some other less fortunate folks (ahem) you’re looking at a super 3 months before you’re right back to your monthly blessing. Anyways, I digress…

-Speaking of putting foreign objects in your vagina, save sex until about the 6-week mark, too. This is again something to talk to your health care provider about but don’t forget you aren’t obligated to put out at the 6-week mark regardless of your doc’s go ahead. Give this a read for more info on having sex after birth.

Use scented products. These can be bothersome to your bits and your body truly doesn’t need any more irritation.

Overexert yourself physically. Your body JUST PUSHED A BABY OUT OF IT. Allow yourself some time to rest. If you don’t you may find that your lochia flow (the discharge experienced after giving birth) may increase, which is your body’s way of asking you to slow down. You may also find that if you don’t have some time to recover you may irritate any stitches you have…it’s just not worth it.

-Use toilet paper. You got yourself a neato Peri-bottle from the hospital or midwife and that baby works like a mini bidet. Even the softest toilet paper can feel like sandpaper on your poor vagina, so some warm water to rinse yourself off after using the toilet will be absolutely heavenly.

Do:

Use organic cotton menstrual pads if possible. I mentioned above about heavily scented products being irritating. Heavily chemical-laden products can have the same effect. Even if you don’t normally use organic products for your menses it’s a good idea to do so immediately after vaginal birth; you’re likely a little lot tender and possibly torn up. It’s worth a bit of a splurge for your bad-ass vagina to have some organic comfort.

-Have sitz baths as often as you can. Pass off that baby to the nearest bystander (or, ya know, the Postpartum Doula that you hired) and get yourself to the bathroom. You can have a sitz bath in your bathtub or with a kit that attaches to the toilet. Either way you do it you’ll likely find some relief from any swelling and discomfort.

There are some folks who add botanicals and such to their sitz bath but make sure to talk to your healthcare professional before doing that. However, if you’re looking for a good brand “Earth Mama Angel” has a great reputation. I’ve used a few of their products and have enjoyed the simplicity of the ingredients.

-Use stool softeners, if necessary. Don’t use them if not necessary, because, why would you? However, if you’re finding it difficult to have those first postpartum poos you may want to consider talking to your healthcare provider about some stool softeners if the classic: loads of water, prunes, fruits and vegetables, a bit of wine, and flax seeds aren’t doing the trick.

Bearing down while you’re trying to poop will just add more pressure to your perineum which will ultimately cause more pain and swelling.

Not good.

Use Witch hazel. Witch hazel saved my perineum. I found that dabbing a bit directly on my perineum or wearing a pad with Witch hazel on it gave me some relief. You can grab standard Witch hazel from your local pharmacy or buy premade pads (along with everything else you’d ever need for relief through the suggested products).

**If you have extra Witch hazel left over you can use it as a toner on your face:)

Use cooling pads or ice packs. Or, if you’re a bit of a baby like me, run a cloth under cold water, ring it out, and apply it to your perineum. I hated using ice and that was a happy compromise between my preferences and what Google was telling me I should be doing.

Wear loose, comfortable undies. I know, I know…you’re saying: “Oh, but I was SO looking forward to wearing my sexiest negligee and thong combo that I just couldn’t fit into until the baby was born”, but trust me on this one.

If you didn’t manage to grab some of those super sexy disposable mesh undies from someone at your birth you can grab them on Amazon. If mesh undies don’t tickle your fancy make sure to wear cotton undies so that your vagina can BREATHE! Once again, the irritation potential is strong after you’ve had a vaginal birth, so doing everything you can to avoid it is vital.

Also, don’t get too attached to your postpartum panty possessions (this post was lacking alliteration) as they’ll likely get quite soiled.

Complain loudly because that provides the most relief possible and because you deserve to do that, dammit!

Okay, so I took that out of the “How to deal with hemmorhoids” post that I wrote, but I feel like the same applies in both situations. Allow yourself to have time to complain to whoever you need to listen (except your Mom-she’ll just tell you that “karma’s a bitch, honey.”), even if it’s just your sweet little baby who has no idea of the trauma she’s just inflicted to your body.

That last one is kinda my favourite and for me the most effective way of feeling better, but truly, using a few of these methods should help alleviate some of your pain.

If you’re finding that the pain is unbearable or isn’t getting better after a few weeks do be sure to check in with your health care professional.

Do you have to ORGASM to get pregnant?! You may be surprised to learn which wives tales are true and which are less than accurate!

9 Hilarious Old Wives Tales About Pregnancy

Old wives tales are, for the most part, ridiculous. While some may prove to be true, most aren’t. In fact, most are so off the wall that you can’t help but laugh. 

Be warned though, there are some firm believers in old wives tales. You will get your pregnant ass reamed for the silliest things. 

These are the funniest and most off-the-wall old wives tales about pregnancy that are sure to give you a good laugh!


Do you have to ORGASM to get pregnant?! You may be surprised to learn which wives tales are true and which are less than accurate!

You can’t get pregnant while on top. 

If you want to get it on but not get pregnant, all you have to do is climb on top! Sorry gals, that’s just not true. You definitely CAN get pregnant while on top. Go ahead and avoid using this method of birth control. If you are trying to conceive, then go ahead and get on top and go for it!

You will have a girl if you get pregnant while on top.

Ok, wait? I thought you couldn’t get pregnant while on top? But if you do you will be giving birth to a bouncing baby girl? It would seem someone got their wires crossed while making up this ridiculous shit. The position you conceive in will NOT influence whether you are having a boy or girl. Sorry to burst your bubble if you are trying for a little girl. Hey, you can go ahead and try anyway right?

Women have to orgasm to conceive.

Ok, if this were true there would be a lot fewer people in this would. Seriously, who comes up with this? Sperm can do its job without you having a mind-blowing orgasm. Obviously you should want to have an orgasm every single time you have sex. But, don’t stress if you just didn’t get there. You can absolutely still conceive. Also, do not use this method as a form of birth control. 

Taking a bath can drown your fetus.

This one has many different versions. You can’t take a bath because you will drown your unborn child. Or you will taint your amniotic fluid and your baby will come out looking like Frankenstein. Either way, it’s not true. Your baby already has fluid in their lungs. They get oxygen from your placenta. You can safely take a bath while pregnant, as long as your water temperature isn’t too hot! Keep that water temperature under 98 degrees and you are good to go.

You can’t put your hands above your head. 

The tale is that if you put your hands above your head the umbilical cord will wrap around your unborn baby’s neck. That is not true. Not only is it not true, it’s just pure bull shit. Rest assured you can put your hands up or down and your baby will be just fine. 

A pregnant woman must eat whatever she craves. 

I remember while being pregnant with my first baby. I worked with very superstitious women who believed this was true. Normally the tale says if you don’t eat what you crave they baby will be born with a sty in their eye. Or the baby could have a birthmark of the food you craved. 

Their beliefs went beyond that and thought that I would be risking my baby’s life. This is very untrue. The only thing that will happen if you do not eat everything you crave while pregnant, is a bad mood. 

Don’t look at anything ugly.

If you look at ANYTHING ugly while pregnant your baby will be U-G-L-Y. Wait, what? No. Just no. 

Wearing high heels will make your baby cross-eyed.

My best guess is that some pregnant lady was supposed to wear heels to work and didn’t want to. So she came up with this insane story to get out of wearing heels! This is 100% untrue. If you feel the need to use this excuse to wear whatever shoes you want, go ahead. 

Baby girls steal your beauty. 

Feeling extra ugly this pregnancy? That’s because you are having a girl! It is said that a baby girl will straight suck that glow right from your face. You will have dry hair and ugly skin. Your baby girl will come out stunning and radiant leaving you looking like Medusa. Not true. If you are looking like a swamp thing this pregnancy you still could be having a baby boy. 

Which old wives tale is your favorite? Are you a firm believer in any of these?

Written by Sirri McNeil for Modern Day Hippie Mama

nips

Should you rub your nipples with sandpaper?

There’s a whole world of crazy stuff that pregnant women are told to do, and rubbing their nipples with sandpaper is high on that list.

The idea behind doing this is to toughen up your nipples for breastfeeding.

I get it.

The minds of the (I’m assuming) men that decided this was a necessary thing do to while pregnant probably had good intentions. I mean, realistically your tender nipples that were once tenderly caressed during passionate lovemaking (yeah, remember pre-kid sex??) will be continually suckled on by a ravenous baby.

Your breasts won’t have any idea what’s coming to them, but guess what? They’ll learn.

There are many things that pregnant women are told to do to prepare for baby. Is rubbing your nipples with sandpaper one of the things you should be doing?

The human body is pretty fascinating. There’s this whole blog post that I wrote about nipples, but I did forget to mention in there that they will toughen as your breastfeeding journey continues on. There will be some initial discomfort as your body adjusts, but it should be minor. If your nipples are super sore it’s not because they’re weak, it’s because you probably need to get some help with your latch. Contact your Midwife, OBGYN, or pop down to your local Health Unit to see a Lactation Consultant. Breastfeeding isn’t always super enjoyable, but it shouldn’t be painful- at least not until your kiddo has those front four dagger-like teeth that chomp down on your nipple when you’re least expecting it and you say words that you didn’t even say during childbirth.

(*I haven’t breastfed for years, but even thinking about this occurrence makes me shiver.*)

So, how do you get tough titties for breastfeeding? You don’t.

What you do is enjoy them while they’re yours and not attached to a small child. If enjoying them to you means rubbing them with sandpaper (you kinky vixen, you) then, by all means, do that, but don’t do it because Great-Aunt Mildred did it back in her day (you know, before women’s rights and extensive medical research).

mastitis tips

The truth about breastfeeding: Mastitis

Mastitis.

Yep, it is as nasty as it sounds. Alongside things like blocked ducts, cracks, and blisters, Mastitis is a potential medical condition that can occur while breastfeeding.

Mastitis is inflammation in the breast tissue or milk ducts, in all or a portion of the breast. It can be caused by a variety of things, one of the most common being reducing the amount you’re breastfeeding. Yep-you can thank your baby and the massive growth spurt they just came down from (just kidding, you can’t blame your baby, obviously. Blame your partner. )

If you’re reading this you probably have symptoms of mastitis (flu-like symptoms, hard breast, redness in breast tissue, swollen breast) or have been diagnosed with mastitis and are waiting for me to get to the part on how the heck to deal with it. Okay, here goes:

How to deal with Mastitis

If you're experiencing symptoms of Mastitis you can find some relief with these tips, but always be sure to consult with your doctor!

(First thing first, my friend: I’m not a doctor. However, I’m a Mama who’s breastfed 4 babies and has had mastitis. I’m also a Postpartum Doula and have helped other Mamas with mastitis.

The information that I’m about to share with you is based on my personal experience of what’s worked, which is information based on research that I’ve done from reputable sources.)

Get rest

Your body is fighting an infection. You’re going to be run down. You’re going to be sore.

Give yourself some time to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and be kind to your body. Bring your baby into bed and grab a good book! Find someone to take care of any other children you have-right now you need to take care of you!

Feed that baby

You are going to want to continually drain the breast that has been affected by Mastitis. Put baby on that breast as often as possible-start with this breast every time you feed. Try different positions to see which one encourages baby to take the most milk. If your baby isn’t super into feeding as much as you need try some gentle hand expression or a pump.

Heat, heat, heat

Use a hot compress or warmed washcloth and apply it to the affected breast. The best tip, though? Get in the shower (lock the door to the bathroom, eh?), let the warm water do it’s magic, and very gently massage your breast to relieve some of the swelling. (This is a double positive- you get some relief and some time to yourself.

Do one or the other before every feeding to encourage milk flow. Make sure you don’t make your heat source excessively hot, however. You could cause damage to the skin.

See your doctor

Don’t hesitate to see your doctor right away if you have symptoms of Mastitis. Mastitis can get worse quickly and can build into even nastier things, like an abscess.

If you notice that you’re not getting relief within a few hours of the onset of symptoms be sure to book an appointment as soon as possible. Sometimes, antibiotics are necessary to get rid of the infection.