Check out the handout below to learn more about how you can get the best support for your childbearing year, and why it matters.
Treat yourself well and hire a doula. Your baby deserves it!
YOU deserve it, too.
Click here to meet the excellent birth and postpartum doulas of the MidValley Doula Network.
Check out any pregnancy or parenting magazine and all you'll see are images of Pinterest-worthy homes with beautiful decor and perfectly organized baby clothes. They'll even be folded. The moms will be glowing, freshly bathed, and fit. There won't be any bodily fluids leaking out of them. Their boobs will be of a reasonable size--not completely engorged with milk; no blue veins, no stretch marks.
Does your life look like this? Mine doesn't either.
If you've just had a baby, no one should expect it to, especially you. You genuinely have more important things to do, like keeping a small human alive, and maybe finding a few minutes to take a nap.
Real life with a real baby does not look magazine perfect.
When I go to someone's house who's just had a baby, I do not expect it to be clean. I expect dirty dishes in the sink. I expect crumbs on the carpet. I expect water glasses everywhere. I expect piles of laundry all over the house. I expect things to be imperfect.
Because I've been there, and I realize now I was way too hard on myself. I was too concerned about what other people would think when they came over to visit. I worried that they would feel uncomfortable if the house was messy. I tidied. I put the laundry away. I picked up the piles of crap and put them in a bedroom and shut the door. But I was the one who had just had a baby! I vacuumed the whole house just a few days after giving birth and while I was recovering from a fourth degree tear.
Why do we hold ourselves to these ridiculous standards?
Part of my job as a postpartum doula is to give your family a hand with light housework. Don't feel bad about it. It's part of my job. Really. So please don't pre-clean for me, or anyone else for that matter.
Looking back now, I don't know why I felt the need to make it look like things at our house were "back to normal." In reality, I was completely exhausted and in a ridiculous amount of pain. I had no business trying to do housework. When you've just had a baby, there is no "getting back to normal." There is only adjusting to the new normal.
So, as your postpartum doula, I'm not going to clean to Pinterest standards. I'm going to help you adjust to the new normal and make sure you can see the bottom of your kitchen sink at least once a day.
My advice is to revel in the postpartum period and let go of whatever you are feeling guilty about, or feeling like you are failing at because this is one of the few times in life when you have the perfect excuse to let those things go.
Curious about how a postpartum doula can lend you a hand? Click to find out more.
1. When she came over today, I had just gotten up after a long night with the baby. I was still in my pajamas, the dishes from dinner were still in the sink, and there was baby paraphernalia scattered all over the living room. I hadn't brushed my teeth yet, or eaten breakfast. She came in, but didn't judge the state of the house or me. After checking in with me about how the night had gone, she made some suggestions for how I could get more sleep while still meeting all of my baby's needs during the night. I hadn't thought of those things before--they seem so simple and obvious, but my sleep-deprived brain didn't think of them. She suggested things like having water and snacks by the bed so I don't have to go the kitchen when I'm thirsty or hungry in the middle of the night from nursing, and using the dimmest light possible when changing the baby's diaper so my sleep isn't further interrupted by turning the overhead lights on. So glad she's here!
I want to take a moment to outline the process I'm going through for certification with DONA International. Most people probably have no idea what it takes to get certified as a postpartum doula.
There's nothing that says doula have to get certified, and lots of experience can certainly lend a lot of credibility to someone's professional work. Not all doulas feel that certification is an important step in being a professional caregiver. But I do think it's important, so I want to share with you what it's all about.
DONA International has been around for a long time, and has always believed that actual research on the role of the doula is essential. They've been instrumental in producing some major findings that show continuous care through labor can dramatically improve outcomes for mom and baby, and that proper social and emotional support in the postpartum period has a preventative effect against postpartum depression and increases the success of breastfeeding. (Read DONA's position papers below!)
I respect DONA as an organization because I think their professional standards are very high, and I have a thing about integrity. So here's what I've been working on to become certified as a postpartum doula:
1. Be a professional member of DONA and adhere to their Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
2. Complete a 3-hour breastfeeding class, an online lactation study program, or training as a breastfeeding counselor or other lactation professional.
3. Attend 27 hours or more of in-person postpartum doula training.
4. Complete an entire reading list of books on the following topics:
6. Submit at least three good evaluations from the partner, spouse, or other significant adult support person of the mothers from #5.
7. Write a 300-500 word account for each certifying postpartum experience.
8. Signed confidentiality release forms from all clients whose information is being used for certification.
9. A 500-1,000 word essay on "The Value of Postpartum Support"
10. Develop a resource list of at least 45 local resources for clients from at least 30 different categories such as:
12. Provide two professional character references.
13. Current Adult and Infant CPR certification
When you are deciding on who you'll hire as a doula, consider whether a formal certification process is an important piece for you. Lots of people can be caring and comforting, but not everyone has the same level of skill, training, and education. You and your baby deserve the best, and I look forward to serving you with the integrity, education, and code of ethics that comes with formal certification.