Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Postpartum Doulas

Today's informative article was written in conjunction with Pam Diamond of First Daze and Nightzzz (who we also mentioned in our Sleep Resources article). I know that a lot of people are exploring the options of doulas in the labor and delivery. But did you know that doulas can also help post-partum? This can be a great option for a lot of moms.

I know when we brought C home I had my mother stay with us, and found the help immeasurable. Someone to hold my hand while I hormonally-cried-for-no-reason, someone to make healthy food, someone to help with the laundry, and someone to be a sounding board of ideas, the support came in all forms and helped me adjust and recover.

But if family isn't an option or the right fit for you, there are still people out there to help. So here are the basics you should know when looking into this:

First off, why use a doula?

Studies show that when new mothers have support at home in the early weeks after delivery, the risk of postpartum depression diminishes, and the chance of breastfeeding successfully increases. Without support, healing from birth and learning to take care of a newborn might otherwise be overwhelming. A postpartum doula on hand helps make the transition from pregnancy to motherhood more manageable.

How to find a doula?

CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association - http://www.cappa.net/) and DONA (Doulas of North America - http://dona.org/) are the two agencies that offer postpartum doula training and certification. They both have listings on their sites where people can find doulas. When looking, CAPPA says, “Postpartum doulas should be good with children, patient, non-judgmental, and knowledgeable about newborn care and breastfeeding.”

Check with local childbirth educators, birth doulas, pediatricians, OB/GYNs or lactation consultants for other ways to get referrals to skilled and recommended doulas in your area.

It is really important, too, to interview and meet your doula beforehand to find the one you feel you "click" with. Afterall, this person will be in your home at a time when you feel vulnerable. Make sure you get along!

What can a doula do for you?

A postpartum doula is a knowledgeable, supportive professional whose role is to nurture, guide and educate the new mother during her transition into motherhood. Her role is not to take over complete care of the newborn (or newborns as the case often is) but to empower the family with education and support so they feel confident caring for their baby themselves. In addition, she may free the new mother from responsibilities that may interfere with her need for rest, recovery and time for bonding with her baby.

A postpartum doula provides breastfeeding education and infant care instruction. For instance, she will teach how to bathe, feed and burp the baby along with demonstrating proven and safe comforting techniques for the baby. She ensures mom gets enough food, fluids and rest. She helps the entire family with reassurance, simple meal preparation, light housework and errands. She offers proper support, encouragement and education so families can make informed decisions regarding the care of their babies.

A qualified postpartum doula recognizes signs of postpartum depression and can direct the mother to local resources for help.

Postpartum doulas do NOT offer any medical advice or perform any medical or clinical procedures, but instead can offer parents referrals to appropriate studies and published books and encouragement to seek guidance from their healthcare professionals when appropriate.

The post- partum doula may work from just a few weeks up to 3 or 4 months. A mother with multiples may need help a bit longer.

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