It’s World Doula Week (March 22-28), which seems like the perfect time to begin my journey on this blog and share why I decided to become a postpartum doula.
When my first baby was born in 2014, I was so focused on pregnancy, labor, and delivery that I didn’t think much about what life would be like after my sweet baby boy arrived. I had read up on newborn care and breastfeeding, and my husband and I had taken a lengthy childbirth class, so I felt mostly well-informed and prepared.
At the time, postpartum doulas weren’t common in the Des Moines area, so it never occurred to me that there might be someone out there (besides family) to provide support for me in my journey as a brand new mom.
After laboring for two nights and staying for Two more less-than restful nights at the hospital, the three of us came home running on fumes. On our first night at home, I vividly remember wandering around our house, tiny baby in my arms, wondering how anyone had allowed us to bring this little guy home and care for him on our own.
Despite a strong support network and a labor/delivery/postpartum that fit the definition of “normal,” I still remember this phase of life being So. Stinkin. Hard. The reality of having a body that felt completely and totally foreign to me, and not feeling 100 percent confident, in love, or happy with my new identity as a mom was so much harder than I imagined.
I was lucky to have a strong milk supply and a baby with a decent latch, but I still worried constantly about breastfeeding. Oh, and my baby didn’t sleep that great, either.
After a couple of weeks at home together, my husband returned to work. I foolishly thought I could do it all, handling all of the overnight feedings and diaper changes for a couple of weeks before reaching burnout. Around 4-6 weeks postpartum I was so sleep deprived I could barely function or regulate my emotions. I counted down the minutes until my husband came home from work so I could have a break.
There was, literally and figuratively, no one to fill my cup. I didn’t know how to ask those around me for what I really needed. So instead, they held the baby while I filled my water jug, or made myself lunch, or washed bottles, laundry, or dishes. I chatted with and entertained visitors instead of asking for a moment to myself to shower or nap.
Somehow we survived, and the three of us gradually settled into a better routine. Eventually, we got more sleep and worried less. My body healed, and I began to know and love the little guy who made me a mom.
But my experience as a first-time mom cemented my desire to help and support other new moms. I made it a point to deliver meals and snacks. To make gift baskets with my favorite new mom products. To bring mom’s favorite coffee. To share resources and links. And, most importantly, to provide emotional support and understanding. To be there to just listen.
After thinking seriously about postpartum doula work for a year, I completed my training through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association in August of 2018. I have been working towards my certification since then.
I am a helper and an advocate by nature, and I truly feel this is the work I was meant to doula (pun intended)!
If you would like to learn more about how a postpartum doula can support you and your family as you bring home a new baby, please contact me to set up your FREE consultation.
“You can’t drink from an empty cup. Fill yourself up, you’re worth it.” – Unknown