There, I said it. Bringing home a new baby can be one of the most difficult things you ever do. As a doula, I try and make it my job to keep things upbeat, optimistic and hopeful; no one likes a negative nancy. It is also our job to help you prepare for the reality of labor, birth, and postpartum, so today we are getting real.
Before I became a doula, I became a mother. I, like many of you, am a transplant to the DC area, with no local family and no support network. I loved my baby, and I loved being a mother, but the reality is that postpartum was the most difficult adjustment period of my life, and partly why I am a doula today. If I had known then what I know now, I would have found any way possible to hire long term, expert newborn and mother support. I am sure you are thinking ‘well, she’s biased’. Of course I am! My job is to help and support women and families and I think it would be amazing if everyone could have that kind of non-judgmental support. The thing is, as a doula, I am in this line of work because I see and empathize with every new mother I meet.
I know what it’s like.
I know what it is like to feel heavy with exhaustion.
To have to get up for a 9am pediatrician appointment after not sleeping from 1-6am.
To have my breasts ache with milk and want to avoid nursing on my left side due to a cracked nipple.
To have to choose between seeing my partner, sleeping, eating, showering or letting my baby cry.
To feel confident on good days and overwhelmed on bad ones.
To be happy about losing my baby weight but secretly knowing it is because I don’t have time to eat well.
To sleep next to my baby in bed, not because I want to, but because I would do anything for a nap and it is the only way she would sleep.
To get frustrated at a baby that won’t settle because, well, you don’t know why.
To worry about my partner going back to work and doing it all by myself.
To just want to throw in the towel and say ‘forget it. I need some time away.’
To feel lonely and wish I just had someone to talk to.
To wish someone would say to me ‘ you’re doing amazing. This is normal. You’re feeding your baby, and she is growing and thriving, and that is because of you.’
Let me let you in on a secret. We can help with all of these things!
When you’re heavy with exhaustion we can help you rest, even if you’re breastfeeding.
When you have a 9am pediatrician appointment we can be there before, during and after.
To know when your breasts ache and you have a cracked nipple, we can help you create a feeding plan.
To NOT have to choose between seeing your partner, sleeping, eating, showering or your baby.
To feel confident on good days and SUPPORTED on bad ones.
To be happy about losing your baby weight because someone is helping you with healthy meals and snacks.
To find healthy sleep patterns for your entire family.
To be able to settle your baby, because, well, you have learned how.
To not have to worry about your partner going back to work and doing it alone.
To just want to throw in the towel and say ‘ forget it. I need some time away’ and hear ‘ I totally understand. How can I help you today.’
To never have to feel lonely.
To hear someone say ‘ you’re doing amazing. This is normal. You’re feeding your baby, and she is growing and thriving, and that is because of you.’
The postpartum period of time is transitional. Think back to a time that was difficult to manage. Maybe you were changing jobs, getting married, moving or dealing with something more stressful, like a loved one’s illness. No one manages those periods well. Throw in little sleep and the overwhelming desire to ‘do well’, and it’s a recipe for postpartum stress, anxiety and maybe depression.
You deserve to enjoy postpartum!
This should be a time to bond with your baby and your new family. You have worked for years and this is the first time you can truly be home and enjoy a well-deserved break, giving you transition time from working woman to working mom. Hiring support doesn’t mean you can’t do it; we know you can! It is choosing to be gentle on yourself, and enjoy the village we have built for you.