Ever heard the expression that “it takes a village.” Have you had a baby? You may know this to be very true. Women helping other women during childbirth and even breastfeeding is not a new idea. Postpartum doula services are simply not new. For thousands of years, women have assisted in the process of delivering a baby. The word doula in greek means “female slave for a child-bearing woman.”
As a doula, I can tell you I am not a slave. I am honored to join families as they welcome their precious babe(s) into the world. I have been blessed to work with various populations of socioeconomic classes, races, gender, and religions.
Over the last few years, the role of a postpartum doula has been on the rise. I am a DONA-certified birth and postpartum doula, so I see a bit of it all! I am here today to chat about the benefits of having a trained birth and newborn specialist in the fourth trimester, specifically overnight doula care.
Becoming a Postpartum Doula
When I became a doula, our world was experiencing the new reality of living in forced isolation. COVID-19 was everywhere. Pregnancy became incredibly challenging because there had to be a lot of precautions when choosing those to spend time with. In early 2020, the influx of doula support that I received allowed me to take my business full-time.
Postpartum doula support is very rewarding – but I will be honest, it can be draining on the body. I say this because I primarily offer overnight support. This means that I go to work at 9 or 10 pm, depending on when the family requests, and I leave at 5 or 6 am. This work can look different for each family, another reason why I love it so much.
I am currently working with two moms that are exclusively breastfeeding. I am a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and this adds another level of care for my new mamas. This past week has included several sessions of overnight care and even though I am tired, I have been so fulfilled. I will give an example for one of my precious babes:
I arrive at 9pm and generally talk with mom and dad. I like to be very personable with my clients, not just a person coming to “clock in,” so to speak. I have been meeting mom upstairs with the most handsome baby boy with a full head of luscious hair. I was their birth doula too, and we loved and joked about his hair because we saw it for 15 minutes before he made his appearance!
This baby is brand new! (my favorite) – so with that, there are a lot of emotions from mom and dad. These new parents are overjoyed and so in love with their little guy, but also incredibly sleep-deprived and navigating life as parents. Time with this mama has made my day. Getting to listen to her feelings, struggles, and worries and seeing the smile appear on her face as she navigates these feelings but is able to voice them. Even though it’s only me, her, and a feeding babe at 1:13 am, there is a sense of community.
This is just a glimpse into a 8-hour overnight session as a postpartum doula. For those that are breastfeeding exclusively, I set an alarm for 2-3 hours, depending on the weight gain of the newborn, and meet mom in the nursery or wherever the most comfortable nursing station is located. As a CLC, I am able to evaluate the feed, make sure the mom is comfortable, refill her water or even encourage a snack to make sure blood sugar levels are stabilized so she has some energy.
When mom is comfortable and baby has a good latch established, we talk. Any and everything. It’s 30-45ish minutes of listening and getting to know another person during an intimate and beautiful journey. Once the baby has finished the feed, I encourage mom back to bed, burp baby, change and rock back to sleep. We meet again in the nursery 3 hours later.
If you are doing a mix of nursing and pumping, you let me know what works best for you! Sometimes I wake the mom to nurse while evaluating a feed, or other times, I handle all of the feedings with a bottle while mom wakes to pump in the middle of the night. I love to make sure mom and dad wake up to clean and sanitized pump parts the next morning. If there are dried pump supplies and bottles on the counter, I will put those away and if dishes need to go into the dishwasher, I do that too!
Maybe it’s the neat freak in me 🙂 A postpartum doula can meet the needs of your family – but please note, we are skilled and trained workers that do differ from nannies or night nurses.
How sweet is this photo? Mom shared permission for me to use this and I was so glad to introduce her to the LaVie Warming Lactation Massager. This can be used for pumping and while nursing! The heat and vibration work together to promote the let-down and can help with clogged ducts. We all know the fear of developing mastitis or suffering through severe engorgement!
If you are interested in these amazing tools for your feeding journey, check out the link below using code BETHANN10 to receive a discount!
Check out this video on how to use the warming massagers!
If this is something you believe would benefit your family, I highly encourage you to check out local doulas in your area. A great resource is www.doulamatch.net. If you are local to the Piedmont Triad, I am accepting new clients and would love to serve as a postpartum doula to you and your growing family!
Don’t forget that Learning to Latch will be available January 31, 2022! This is my baby and I am so happy to continue educating you on the realities of breastfeeding while empowering your experience! Make sure you are following @bethanndoulaservicesllc on instagram for some very exciting updates. 2022 is going to be full of growth and empowered families.
You can also catch me providing online lactation counseling for Lavie Mom. This is a project I am honored to be a part of while partnering with an amazing company.
As always, protect the nips, nourish your body, drink water, and snuggle your babe. Reach out if you have any questions!