I recently asked a client to give me some feedback on how I have helped her as her doula. She replied: confidence booster, companionship, teacher.
I wanted to know what words she would use to describe my brand of postpartum help to her friends and family. These are her words, but I will break them down.
I offer four-hour shifts, one or two times per week, with a mental and public health focus. I do this to support and empower new parents, so that in between my visits, they can gain confidence.
This works for me, but most importantly—It works for them! They can get used to squeezing a lot of successful moments into a short time, and leave time open for my emergency lactation cases.
In four hours, we can boost confidence. We can give a bath together, or I can observe as the parent gives the bath. We can talk through where the best location for the bath is in the home, how to keep the baby safe, and what needs to be at an arm’s length.
At the same time, a doula can wash baby clothing and help organize things around the house. She can take care of the dishes, wash bottles, or just take out the garbage and recycling for you.
Mom can have a nap and shower, because she has someone to hand off the baby to. Doulas love to cuddle with babies, especially tiny newborns. It is our jam. Nothing is more exciting at three a.m., than realizing your doula will arrive in a few hours to relieve you.
Once mom has showered and eaten breakfast, we can go outside for the first drive with baby or for a walk with a carrier. All of these activities help a new parent to feel confident. Your doula can help navigate the complexities of leaving the house, because there is someone to talk it through with. It also helps a new parent to realize that the outing may not look the same every time, but they can problem solve to achieve it. This boosts confidence.
Companionship is important to a new parent, because taking care of a newborn can be very lonely. Sure, you have a beautiful baby to hold, but you begin to forget other things you liked to talk about when consumed with cycle of feed, burp, diaper, sleep, repeat.
Your doula will understand this and can talk you through the highs and lows. Your doula can also can talk with you about current events, your favorite television show, how you secretly are glad you are no longer pregnant, or that you feel more insecure than you have since high school.
Finally, doulas are teachers. Your doula can teach practical skills like suctioning your baby, taking the temperature, when to worry about the umbilical cord, how a healing circumcision should look, what diapers should look like, and how to be good to a healing postpartum body.
Doulas can also talk about theoretical things such as parenting styles and expectations with non-judgmental support. Your doula can help you to figure out what you worry about, and just how much.
When you are pregnant it can be hard to know what type of parent you will be. But, once your baby arrives and you get to know them, you may find you become the parent they need. Our child’s needs dictate the parent we become to some extent, and doulas are trained to help you navigate this maze.
Four hours doesn’t sound like much, but it is the perfect amount of time to learn, grow as a parent, and build your confidence while letting you also figure out things on your own. And having these educational sessions a couple of times a week, will grow your confidence exponentially.
This provides doula care that works for parents, as they work together to grow into their new roles. MCC wants to focus on your confidence and mental health by using a model of home visiting, with a public health and educational focus.