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5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire a Postpartum Doula

Wondering if a Postpartum and Infant Care doula is right for your family? You may want to take the following into consideration while making your decision.

  1. You Live in a Village. One question I get asked quite often when someone finds out I’m a Postpartum and Infant Care doula, is: “Why would I need a postpartum doula when I have my mom?”  It’s a very honest and legitimate question. Here is my answer. If you are blessed enough to have a mother (or other close relative or friend) willing to help you out after having a baby, great! That’s wonderful, and I am so happy for you. But family isn’t always close by. Families are now spread out, not only across the country, but across the world! Gone are the days of having relatives down the block, able to pitch in at a moment’s notice. We are separated by distance now. Furthermore, even if a relative could make the trip and be with you after giving birth (or if they happen to live nearby) many have responsibilities of their own to take care of. They have jobs and families of their own to get back to. They may be able to offer you a few days, maybe a week’s worth of help, but that may be it. A nice respite, sure, but hardly sustainable. A postpartum doula steps in to fill this need  for as long as the family needs.
  2. You Never Need Help. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands, meal preparation, older child care, pet care…plus getting to know and caring for a new baby all while healing from labor and delivery? “No big deal”…said no mother ever. The fact of the matter is, we all need help sometimes. A postpartum doula is there so that you can spend more time healing and bonding with your baby and family, and less time worrying about the laundry. Each visit from a postpartum doula will be tailored to fit your family’s unique needs that day. Need someone to care for baby while you take a much-deserved shower and nap? We do that. Need someone to fold laundry, wash dishes, or meal prep while you tend to baby? We do that. Need help handling older children and a new baby? We do that. Need a non-judgmental, supportive ear and a shoulder to cry on? We do that. Our goal is to see the family experience a smooth and joyful transition during this time.
  3. You Never Have Any Questions or Doubts. If you never have any questions concerning postpartum recovery, breastfeeding positions, latch, bottle-feeding, reflux, bathing, co-sleeping, or a myriad of other questions that come up during the postpartum stage, then you may not need a postpartum doula. However, if like most of us you do have questions, a Postpartum and Infant Care doula offers a wealth of information and non-judgmental support during this confusing and overwhelming time.
  4. You Never Need to Sleep. Let’s face it: Most of us need adequate sleep in order to feel our best mentally and physically. Unfortunately, the time when you need rest the most-a time when your body and mind need to take time to recover-is when most families experience the least amount of sleep they’ve had in years. A postpartum doula is here to guarantee that you get the rest and sleep that you deserve and need. Whether it’s a cat-nap in the afternoon, or a few hours sleep at night (yes, postpartum doulas offer night-time care as well! Sleep well knowing your baby is being lovingly cared for.), a postpartum doula will make sure you get adequate rest.
  5. You are Wonder Woman. Actually, scratch that. I’m sure even Wonder Woman could use unbiased support and a chance to ask questions and voice frustrations without fear of judgment. Everyone needs someone in their corner cheering them on.

 

Stacie

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Quiet

It’s been pretty quiet around here lately. I attended a 15 hour birth last Sunday, a weird cold has slowly been circulating through the kids and finally settled in on my husband and me, and we’re still settling into the back to school shuffle of drop-offs and practices and early mornings. Basically, I felt like I was playing defense all week, just reacting to the circumstances happening around me, constantly running late and feeling completely spent from being spread much, much too thin.

 

So, I made comfort my priority this weekend. I baked and cooked and snuggled feverish babies. We all laid on the couch and did the absolute bare minimum to get by. We ordered pizza and I worked on an embroidery project and we all watched way too much TV. The kids build marble runs and wrote notes and we read Ramona and hunkered down until we felt more like ourselves again.

 

And I’m telling you all this because sometimes I think we need to give ourselves permission to say no. We need to allow ourselves to heal from the hectic craziness of our lives and just focus on the relationships that are closest to our hearts. Often, in the absurd paradox that is life, those are the relationships that get the least amount of attention and bear the brunt of our exhaustion and crankiness. It’s so easy to be impatient and ugly with my husband and kids and pour my nicest self out for everyone else. It’s easy to mindlessly stare at Facebook and be bratty about my family “bothering me.” Luckily, my family loves me unconditionally. But if I’ve learned anything from the movies it’s that life is fleeting and we shouldn’t take our families for granted. And if I’ve learned anything from Brene Brown, it’s that easy isn’t always best, even when it comes to self-care. (Maybe especially when it comes to self-care.) Scrolling Facebook for hours isn’t fulfilling. I don’t feel fed or really very rejuvenated after doing that…so I took the app off of my phone so that I’m not tempted to waste my time in that manner. I can’t tell you how much better I feel about myself and my life. Choosing smaller amounts of higher quality self-care rather than hours of unsatisfying junk has made a huge difference for me. (Don’t freak out, I still have a serious Instagram addiction…baby steps, y’all.)

 

So, as we head back into another week, let’s be gentle with ourselves. Let’s take the time to snuggle up and feed our spirits with quality quiet and truly restful rest. Everything else can wait, but bodies and families and babies need tending. We need tending, friends. At the very least, sit for a minute outside and feel the sunshine soak into your skin. Feel your breath fill up your lungs and cleanse your soul as you breathe it out. Sense your feet sinking into the ground, your back supporting you, your fingertips relaxing… sit for a minute and just be. And while you’re just being, just for that minute, remember:

You are joyful

You are kind

You are lovely

You are brave

You have self control

 

You are worthy, my friend. Wherever you are, whatever this week has in store for you, know that you are an incredible human being with incredible purpose and potential. I’m praying that your week is wonderful and you’re intentionally kind to yourself and the people in your care.

 

Blessings,

Mary Susan

 

 

Photo by the incredible Erin Bedenbaugh Photography.

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Why You Need a Blessingway

Ask anyone what you “must do” to get ready for a new baby and you’ll probably end up with a list that goes something like this:

  • read some childbirth books
  • take a class
  • visit the hospital/order your home birth supplies
  • pack a bag
  • have a baby shower
  • prep Baby’s nursery, clothes, and accessories
  • figure out the car seat

 

Few people will tell you to have a Blessingway and yet it’s one of the single most valuable things you can do to get your head and your heart prepared to welcome your newborn earthside.

 


So, what is a Blessingway?

A Blessingway, or Mother Blessing, is a modern take on an ancient practice. Basically every culture has traditions tracing back thousands of years that honor the “birth” of a mother. However, our Western culture, particularly in America, has become very baby-centric. Prenatal and postpartum care focuses primarily on babies and, while we obviously want to ensure the health and safety of our children, we do mothers a huge disservice by treating them as though they are merely a means to an end. Mothers are not baby making assembly lines, machines that grow and produce new humans. Conception, pregnancy, and childbirth are sacred, person-changing events in women’s lives and as such, should be honored and treated with the reverence they deserve.

 


Enter the Blessingway

Birthing mothers in our culture crave community. They need to be mothered by women who have gone before them. More specifically put, a Blessingway is an event that gathers community around a birthing mother. It is an intimate gathering of trusted friends and family during which a mother is surrounded by encouragement, support, and love. She is held in a safe space where she can acknowledge her fears and where people who know her well can speak powerful love and truth to her heart. It is an event that focuses solely on the incredible transformation that she is about to embark upon in labor.

 


So, what do you actually do at a Blessingway?

Here are a few ideas, though scouring Pinterest will give you a kazillion more options (as Pinterest is wont to do):

  • Have a potluck brunch with 10-15 of your closest friends and relatives, comfy clothing and foot soaks required. This is a good chance for someone to paint your toenails or massage those tired legs!
  • Ask all invitees to bring a bead with them that symbolizes a strength, characteristic, or virtue that they see in you or think will serve you well in labor. String these beads on a necklace or strand to wear or hold during delivery.
  • Have everyone write or decorate birth affirmations for you to hang up or look through in the last days of pregnancy. You can even take these to the hospital to focus on during contractions.
  • Give each guest a candle to light once you go into labor. The knowledge of candles lit simultaneously will remind you that you are carried and held by your sisters.
  • Have everyone share their best “Bad Mommy” story to remind you that perfect mothers don’t exist, but a good sense of humor makes a world of difference.
  • Hire an artist to do henna on your belly or create a belly cast (these make amazing props for newborn pictures).
  • Ask your guests to share a prayer, poem, quote, or affirmation as they lay a hand on your shoulder.

 

The variations are endless. Blessingways can be customized for any circumstance, religion, season, or culture. What’s important is that the mother feels honored, valued, seen, and held by her community. I think Pam England sums it up best in her book Birthing From Within:

All ceremonies symbolically destroy one world to create a new one. A Mother Blessing acknowledges the mother’s new status, and also helps her say goodbye to the world she is leaving behind.

-Birthing From Within p. 15

 

So, while you’re reading all the books and discovering how exactly that new stroller fits in your trunk, I encourage you to take the time and initiative to tell your sister, mother, best girls, aunts, whoever that you’d really really love a Blessingway instead of a Diaper Genie. I guarantee that you’ll feel better prepared for childbirth if you make your mental, spiritual, and emotional health a priority…and I think we can all agree that self care is an essential habit to get into for new mamas.