In our culture the word "postpartum" often leads to confusion, having become synonymous with the diagnosis of postpartum depression. However, postpartum is a when and not a what. That is to say, postpartum simply refers to the time after a birthing parent gives birth.
A postpartum doula, then, is a professional who has training and experience supporting families in the days, weeks, and even months after baby's birth. While different doulas define their postpartum services differently, many (including myself) consider their postpartum doula services applicable to anytime in the first year after baby's birth - as the complications from birth and challenges of parenthood don't stop at a certain number of weeks. A postpartum doula supports you as you heal from birth, gain confidence in your parenting, and meet the ebb and flow of life transitions with a new baby.
As I've written about elsewhere, our current culture seems to turn the postpartum period into a race back to "normal," lauding those who "bounce back" with praise. But, as traditional cultures demonstrate, there exists much value in treating the time after baby with care - nourishing and supporting the birth parent as well as encouraging and supporting the rest of the family.
What services do postpartum doulas offer?
Each doula defines her terms of service a bit differently, so it is worthwhile to meet with and interview several doulas to find the perfect fit for your family's needs, including daytime and/or overnight support.
While the specifics of support may vary, you can expect your postpartum doula to help you meet your needs for rest and tend to baby with confidence. This may include assistance with meal preparation, light housework, connections to resources, informational support, infant feeding support for breast and/or bottle, babywearing tutorials, and a nonjudgmental, empathetic ear to listen as you process your birth and this leap into motherhood.
You doula may also bring additional training into her work including breastfeeding support, infant sleep education, massage, and more.
While you can hire a doula at any point, reaching out to interview prenatally will give you the time to find the perfect fit and guarantee your spot on your doula's calendar. As with a birth doula, a postpartum doula doesn't guarantee a specific postpartum experience, but having the support you need to rest and heal can help you feel more empowered and cared for in the transition into parenthood.
What are the benefits of hiring a postpartum doula?
When you hire a postpartum doula prenatally, you can go into birth confident that you will have the support you need to rest and recover from birth.
If this is your first baby, you'll likely have lots of questions about whether or not baby's eating and sleeping habits are normal. Having an experienced doula can provide lots of reassurance about biologically normal infant behavior, especially in the 4th trimester when babies have an intense need to stay close to caregivers.
If this is your second or more baby, the whole family - siblings included - will undergo a shift as baby comes home. Your postpartum doula can help you manage your busy household or carve out some special time with older siblings.
If you choose to hire a doula for overnight support, your doula can help you maximize rest while meeting your feeding goals - handling diaper changes and additional soothing needs so you can rest as much as possible.
As with a birth doula, the nonjudgmental support of a postpartum doula - feeling heard and understood - can make all the difference in how you experience the challenges and joys of life postpartum. And, should you need additional support outside a doula's scope of practice to navigate those challenges, your doula will be ready with recommendations to trusted providers so you can get the support you need right away.
Looking for support in the days and weeks after baby arrives? Meet our member doulas who offer postpartum services at our next Meet the Doulas event or reach out to any of our postpartum doulas to schedule a consultation.
When I tell people I am a postpartum doula in response to the "what do you do?" question that is so common in small talk between two people getting to know each other, most people follow up almost immediately with another question - What does a postpartum doula do?
If you've found way over here to the Doulas of Iowa City blog, I'm guessing you may have a bit more familiarity with the way in which postpartum doulas support families as they transition into parenthood with a new little bundle of joy. Skilled and experienced in the needs of postpartum recovery and newborn babies, postpartum doulas provide a cushion of nonjudgmental support.
If the conversation goes further and I share about day and overnight visits (that include physical, emotional, and informational support as well as partner reinforcement and encouragement as new parents learn to be their own advocates) the most common response is that the person who posed the initial question expresses a wish - a wish that they had received that kind of support in their parenting journey.
For many families, the thought to hire a postpartum doula doesn't cross their minds until they find themselves overwhelmed and exhausted in the early days and weeks postpartum. If that is the case for you, this is certainly the right time to reach out to a postpartum doula! Whether it is holding your baby so you can take a nap, troubleshooting breastfeeding, or joining you for night feedings with words of encouragement, a postpartum doula may be just what you need to take a breath and feel empowered in your journey.
If, however, you are reading this blog before your little one arrives earthside, you are in the perfect position to set yourself up for a more blissful and less stressful postpartum experience. By hiring your postpartum doula prenatally you guarantee your spot on a doula's calendar. For example, I take 1-3 postpartum clients per month in order to make certain I have the availability they need.
Inviting a postpartum doula - or anyone - into your nest after baby's arrival is an intimate thing. Taking the time to interview several doulas prenatally will help you make certain that you and your chosen doula are a perfect fit. Additionally, each doula may vary in the services she offers or how she structures her packages - thinking through those considerations now will make for less questions later.
And, many doulas offer gift cards or can work with you to include doula support on your registry. This is an awesome way for friends and family to lift up and support your new little family.
Now that you are considering hiring a postpartum doula, I bet you are wondering how to find one? Don't worry - I'm here to help with that, too! Coming to one of Doulas of Iowa City Meet the Doula events is a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and chat with a whole group of locals.
Can't make the Meet the Doula event? Reach out to any of our postpartum doulas today and set up a consultation.
10/1/2018 0 Comments
One of the best parts of bringing our member businesses together in Doulas of Iowa City is the chance to gather for continuing education from experts in our community as well as experienced member doulas. This month we had the opportunity to learn about massage before, during, and after birth from Kristin Bergman of Conscious Caring.
Here are just a few takeaways that illustrate what makes Kristin's "conscious caring" significant:
When we moved to her massage space, Kristin graciously allowed us the opportunity to hop on her table so we could feel her information as well as watch and learn. Here are a few specific suggestions she shared for massage before, during, and after birth:
Some key details to note about the fabulous services Kristin offers:
Want to learn more about Kristin and the fabulous services she offers? Head on over to Conscious Birth Iowa!
Thanks so much to Kristin from all of us at Doulas of Iowa City for this continuing education presentation and letting us share a bit on the blog, too!
The benefits of babywearing are undeniable. Babywearing brings you closer to your little ones both physically and emotionally. And while you are soaking up all of the cuddly goodness that comes along with babywearing, you also have the ability and freedom to take on other parts of your day. More and more research is being done to support babywearing and recent findings show that babywearing can reduce postpartum depressive symptoms.
And as if I didn’t love babywearing enough already, I was so thrilled to find so much support for babywearing in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids Corridor. If you are interested in babywearing, here are some awesome communities and resources we are super lucky to have in our area.
AP Babywearing of Iowa City
o The Attachment Parenting International chapter in Iowa City has created a subgroup just for babywearing. I became the member of the Facebook group when I was thinking about investing in my first woven wrap and have since learned a lot from the group. Any questions about wraps or carries or even requests to borrow can be made in the group. There is a monthly meet-up where you can get hands-on help for all things babywearing and the chapter also has a lending library! Once my baby got bigger and stronger I loved knowing how to use my woven wraps to get her more secure and snug! If I hadn’t found these meet-ups, I’m not sure I would have ever been brave enough to use them.
Babywearing Dance Class
o If there is anything better than hiking while babywearing, it’s dancing while babywearing. There is a babywearing dance class every Wednesday morning at Anytime Fitness in Coralville, and it is amazing. Every time I go I am amazed at
what a good workout I get in, and my little one absolutely loves the music and the social time before and after class. I have met some amazing mommas in this class and am so thankful for this momma + baby opportunity to work out and
socialize. For more info on this class, join the Facebook group!
o Between the lending library provided by AP of Iowa City and the Iowa City Babywearers groups, the Iowa City Babywearers B/S/T and Babywearers of CR BST, and local retailers like Baby Time , it is easy to get your hands on carriers to find what is most comfortable for you and your little one. I have scored awesome deals on the Iowa City Babywearers B/S/T page and was able to connect with other babywearing mommas to try out some soft structured carriers before going with my Tula Free to Grow. Finding the carrier that works best for you and your body and baby is so very important, and I all of the support and resources in our area make it easy to do so!
A look at some of my carriers- I found the bottom two on the Iowa City BST page in amazing condition for more than half off original retail.
The benefits of babywearing truly seem endless, and when you pair those benefits with the extra support and community in the Corridor area—I feel like we really have it made around here. Babywearing education and tutorials can be provided by many of the doulas with Doulas of Iowa City. Check with your doula to see how they can help you along your babywearing journey. Whether you’re looking for community or just to enjoy a meal with two hands… babywearing can make it happen.
Looking for the perfect book as you prepare for baby or navigate the first year postpartum? Read on as Doulas of Iowa city members share their favorite reads.
Looking for more support during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum? Come Meet the Doulas of Iowa City at our next free event!
When we think of mothers and mental health, we most often think of Postpartum Depression. But, PPD is just one among many diagnoses that fall under the category of PMADs - Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.
This is significant because many women may be struggling but assume that since their experiences don't match up with what they typically think of as depression that there isn't support or understanding for what they may be experiencing.
We no longer live in tribes, extended families, or tight-knit communities, meaning that the challenges parents face as they negotiate childbirth, sleepless nights, and changing identities occur behind closed doors without the vital support networks they need. According to Shannon, doulas can provide a critical level of support and intervention for moms and families during this pivotal time of transition.
Many thanks to Shannon for sharing offering Doulas of Iowa City members continuing education on this important subject! If you are looking a mental health professional to support you in pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond, you can find information about Shannon and Murray, Wilson, and Rose Counseling here.
Looking for doula support? Join the Doulas of Iowa City for our next Meet the Doulas event.
Are you ready to get out of the house with your partner but not ready to leave baby at home? We asked local parents their recommendations for where to take their cute little 3rd wheel out on the town. Check out these fabulous suggestions!
NODO Downtown, Iowa City
"Inside and outside seating, casual menu, kid-friendly food for older siblings, delicious, and staff have always been very calm even when my youngest has cried or thrown a fit." - Hannah S.
Big Grove Brewpub, Solon
"I’m quite sure both of our baby’s first outings were to Big Grove in Solon. They are incredibly welcoming of families, have private and high backed booths, and it’s typically busy/loud enough in there that a little crying would go unnoticed." - Shona B. M.
Black Sheep Social Club, Cedar Rapids
"Black Sheep Social club in Cedar Rapids has a nice changing table." - Corey H.
Bread Garden, Iowa City
"You can sit outside (but inside is noisy and kid commotion goes unnoticed, too) and the food is inexpensive and delicious. Plus, a solid food eating kid can get foods from the salad bar with no wait, and they always have the well-received Mac and cheese, chicken fingers, and fruit. They have high chairs and are right next to the play equipment in front of library. The only hardship can be if you’re the only adult and have to go back inside if you ordered something from the kitchen (like the delicious flatbread pizzas!) and don’t love the idea of leaving the toddler in high chair alone but don’t want to hassle with taking them back inside with you. The owner is always super helpful and so are the workers." - Allison G.
Village Inn, Coralville (& Iowa City)
"Our first outing with our first was breakfast at village inn...which is great if you want a bunch of old ladies fawning over your baby." - Barb D.
Not feeling outdoorsy? Try a car picnic!
"[We] liked "car picnics" when she was really little, picking up a Pagliais and eating it in the car while she slept, just listening to music and talking. Doesn't really fit the getting out maybe but it was quite romantic for us and we connected so well being side by side in the car alone - baby asleep and no other people or commotion to distract from talking to each other. It felt like being teenagers. I have great memories of those dates." - Becca D.
Don't see your favorite on the list? No worries! Pack up that diaper bag and give it a try. Here are a few tips.
"I’ve found that everywhere in the Corridor is welcoming of families. We have always taken our babies out from the get go, and have never had a negative experience from staff including the many times I’ve breastfed at the table." - Barb D.
"It’s helpful to try to time a restaurant visit outside of peak hours, not only so it will be less busy/loud, but also to allow you your choice of booths or tables, and to ensure quick seating and service. There’s nothing worse than having to wait forever for a table with a cranky baby. We’ve found that eating outside on a patio/deck, etc. is always more soothing for babe when available, and usually any crying stands out less outside. Also, if you have a baby or toddler who is eating solids ordered from the menu, place that order ASAP, even if the adults don’t have their selections made yet. This will ensure that the LO’s food comes out first." - Grace S.
Still feeling nervous about your first time out with baby? Repeat this pep talk in your head.
"My biggest advice on going out with the baby is to be confident that you belong there, that your baby is welcome, and that other customers are more charmed than annoyed! A lot of discomfort can come from the self-imposed perception that others are constantly watching or judging you, and they're mostly not - they are socializing and eating! One person being annoyed with her spouse and staring off into space can be perceived as a judgmental look at your nursing if you are self-conscious already, so just own it and you'll be fine. If babe starts fussing or crying and you're shushing and rocking and furiously trying to get her to take a paci and cleaning spit up off of your date clothes, 90% of people who notice are impressed that you're getting out and reminiscing about "those days." Anyone who actually says anything negative (god forbid) is a reflection of their poor character. I did always choose restaurants with high chairs and a kids menu when bringing my baby or toddler because I considered that an endorsement of our presence." - Becca D.
The Doulas of Iowa City blog contains guest posts by Doulas of Iowa City member businesses. We are excited to share with you about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities and to help you connect to fabulous local resources.