As a postpartum doula, my job is to nurture and care for the vulnerable, new family; most especially the new mom.
Some people ask, “Isn’t that just for people who need extra help? Like with twins or medical issues or depression?”
While many women have said to me, “I didn’t know I could ask for something like that!” or “It’s really hard to ask for help.”
Why does it seem like only other families with real challenges deserve postpartum help? Why is it difficult or uncomfortable to ask for help ourselves? We receive so many messages that women are born to be Supermoms. That all by ourselves, based on our maternal instincts, we are supposed to figure everything out alone . . . how to take care of a newborn, while keeping our household ship-shape, while supporting our partner, while keeping our careers going, and on and on.
This is insane! Every new family feels overwhelmed and needs support! Parenting and newborn care are completely new and the adjustment isn’t easy.
We aren’t born knowing all about newborns, but we used to learn by observing the generations before us. Now, in the US, we have less contact with people older or younger than us. We’ve limited the “American” family to mom, dad, and kids, so we rarely observe our older cousins or aunts caring for their babies before we have our own. We move far away for jobs or school, leaving behind those who could teach and support us. We feel a taboo about asking newer friends or neighbors for help. It’s too personal, too intimate, to ask these people to get involved when a new baby comes.
The bottom line is that all new families DESERVE help! And you, new mama, deserve to be honored, doted upon, and treated like a queen! Your body created a life, brought a baby into the world, and now, is channeling all your own nutrients, energy, hormones, and emotions into nursing this small, vulnerable creature. You did it! Sadly, this will not be news to you: our US society does NOT give you a message of appreciation on a regular basis.
After the birth, you deserve to have someone whose only focus is caring for you — mothering you and honoring you.
After my daughter was born, any appreciation felt so good, from the simple “you are doing a great job,” to the friend who stocked my freezer with lasagna while I took a nap. It felt so good and so right because I needed it. I was in a vulnerable and a raw place after the birth. During pregnancy and labor I opened to a realm so different than the fast-paced, rational world. A world of intuition, emotional endurance, and spirit. Coming back to earth with my new baby, I felt reborn, in a sense, and needed nurturing support to adjust. Staying in that fog of love and exhaustion, as I did nothing but hold my daughter and stare into her eyes, was exactly what both of us needed. I needed someone else to care for my physical needs and offer loving support so I could remain open for my baby.
So let’s beat back the myth that the average family doesn’t need help after the baby’s birth. Postpartum Doula services can make a real difference!