Why I [Needed] a Postpartum Doula
I had a close friend ask me the other day if she could hire me as her postpartum doula to help with her 16 year old. Of course it caused me to chuckle, but nevertheless it had me wondering if new moms believe that hiring a postpartum doula is something that MUST be done before their baby is born.
Does she think if she's already been home for a little while with her new baby, then it's just too late? Of course, pre-planning is great and it will put your mind at ease, but.....
I'm here to say, NO!
You CAN hire a postpartum doula AFTER returning home.
It's true that our society puts quite a bit of emphasis on the joy of pregnancy. There is the fun of planning the gender reveal and baby shower, buying all the baby gear and setting up the nursery, reading the Birth Partner, and making sure the birth plan is written out and in order.
We might set up a little help with family and friends when we return home with our sweet bundle of joy, but that usually only lasts a week or two at the most.
I was excited and happy while planning for our second child just as much as our first. My second was a planned cesarean and I had plenty of help when we brought him home. We didn't have family closer than 500 miles, however my mom flew in to stay for a week and after she left, my husband was able to take another week off from work to help.
Since it was my second c-section, I had a pretty good idea as to what to expect and I began to bounce back much quicker than the first.
I remember when my husband returned to work and I was left home alone with a newborn and a toddler. It was tough. I'll be honest. I was tired. But as the weeks went on, I felt better and better.
Unfortunately, it was short lived.
I had gone in for my 6 week check up with my OB and by this time I was feeling pretty good. I left feeling confident and content with the way things were going. Caring for two just 16 months apart was sometimes hard to juggle, but I was adjusting well. I had a bit of a schedule going, I was getting the babies bundled up for short walks outside when the weather would permit, and I was feeling "somewhat" rested.. But two days after that check-up, just before bed, I decided a piece of chocolate cake (brought over by a friend) and a glass of milk were in order.
I know, I know.....what could possibly go wrong with cake? Right?
Within the hour I was doubled over with intense abdominal pain that would not stop. My husband was on the phone trying to find someone (anyone) who could come and stay overnight with a 6 week old and a toddler AND be ok with that. Once we found a friend, we rushed to the E.R., and around 2:00 a.m., after hours and hours of excruciating pain, I was admitted to the hospital to have my gallbladder removed. To say we were shocked is an understatement. I had NO symptoms prior to this night.
The surgery went fine, the nurses were fantastic and they treated me so well knowing I had just had a c-section 6 weeks earlier. Needless to say, my OB was shocked when he heard the news.
THIS was when I hit my wall. A BIG ONE. If the idea of a postpartum doula had been around back then, I would have been on the phone trying desperately to find one. After three days in the hospital, I was sent home. My husband was able to take some more time off, but not much.
It was hard to get around and difficult to pick up my children. I was tired all the time, and weepy, and I felt down. It was hard to just get basic things done. Friends were busy with their own families and I didn't want to burden them. I was always so relieved when my husband returned home from work, but exhausted when he did. Everyday was a blur and it took a long time (weeks, months, maybe years) to completely "bounce back."
Today, most pediatricians will tell you that there is something called the fourth trimester. It's that period of time (3 months) after the baby has arrived. It's an adjustment period for the baby who is learning and sensing what it is like to be outside the womb. It's a time for the parents and any siblings to balance a new routine and get to know the new addition to the family. Sometimes a new mom may not realize her need for help until after her baby has been home for a few days or even a few weeks. I'm here to tell you that it's completely understandable and acceptable to hire a postpartum doula anytime during your fourth trimester (and keep her as long as you need!)
All Postpartum Doulas at Wilmington Coastal Doulas are equipped to meet you where you are. I personally will listen without judgment and help you as you adjust and gain confidence, no matter what "wall" you may hit. You may need rest, help with siblings, a few simple meals prepared, dishes washed, laundry folded, or someone to just listen to you. It's my joy and privilege to help you find the inner strength God has blessed you with. Contact us today for details. 910.707.4507
It's never too early and it's NEVER too late.