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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?!)

Are you about to give birth?

Build your confidence with these 10 tips from a Mama who’s done it 4 times.

Plus, get exclusive access to a hilarious birth story that you will be able to learn from!

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    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?