That was dumb.
I think we all have moments that we look back on and think “why didn’t I xyz?”
One of mine? Not hiring a postpartum doula when I had my second baby. My first was born in the Netherlands, where we (like every new Dutch parent) had a doula-like angel (kraamzorg) come to our home a few hours/day for the first days with our newborn. Sabina helped us with baths (me & and the baby), made sure we were eating, changed sheets and cleaned toilets, helped with breastfeeding confidence, gave us a daily nap, and told my husband he needed to go to the drugstore and buy more really thick maxi-pads.
Unfortunately in the US, this care is not the standard. When my daughter was born in the US, it didn’t occur to me to seek it out; and wasn’t recommended by our healthcare provider. Even though we had wonderful support from family & friends, I missed having the expert around - because some things were different. Some things were harder. Some things I forgot how to do. And some things I didn’t want to ask my mom to do.
But supported, in home, postpartum care does exist in the US - and it’s more accessible & affordable than you might think.
I talked with Angel Carr of Angel's Heart and Hands recently about her work as a postpartum doula.
Why should someone hire a postpartum doula?
Every family can use help after having a baby. Where it's your first or third, you are a single mom or you have plenty of family all around you. A postpartum doula, at a high level, is there to help your transition into your newly expanded family unit go smoother/easier. The postpartum help can be needed as soon as the mom and baby come home, as the spouse transitions back to work or as for example a mother/mother-in-law goes back home. The actual needs of a given family will vary of course. It can vary from just making sure an overwhelmed mom gets a little peace while the doula watches the baby to showing tricks and tips of breastfeeding, changing, or calming a baby to watching the baby thru the night so parents(s) can get rest or help due to mom going thru postpartum depression etc.
What’s the best part of your job? What are your favorite ways to help a new family?
It's all centered around mommies and babies. How awesome is it to be able to help those two groups of humans everyday??? I love teaching moms about breastfeeding and helping them through the challenges they might have with it. I also love helping families solve the little challenges they have as they learn to navigate their new family dynamics.
What are some surprising ways that you’ve helped out a new family?
One family had a new baby AND they were getting ready to move. This mom had a lot going on. She still had duplicate gifts that she needed to ship back to Amazon. After my shift was over I dropped them off for her.
Another family was struggling with several issues and on a tight budget. This was not their first child and the mom needed a carrier (she somehow missed having this on her registry) to make it easier to be available for both kids, so through a non-profit I made sure she got one.
What are new parents you work with most surprised by in their “new baby/Postpartum” phase?
For new first time parents, some are surprised by the sheer exhaustion of having a new baby. For others it's that breastfeeding is just not as easy as they thought it would be and does require a little help.
Angel (like Popins) is a certified gift registry expert. I was curious to know her favorite product!
I am nothing if not practical so I love multitasking products. My favorite is an exercise / birth ball. It has so many uses! You can use it during labor, you can use it for tummy time once the baby is born, you can sit on it and bounce to soothe the baby, you can use it for exercise and you can use it as an everyday chair. I have used mine as my desk chair for years.
And also - what products are around homes and don’t get used?
- Baby shoes - Once you put the first pair on either they keep falling off or you lose one - that's it!
- Wipe warmer - What's the point? Unless you carry it everywhere at some point you have to change diapers without it.
- Crib comforters and bumpers - They look cute but they are NOT safe to have in the crib.
Angel also shared an important point: “For the gift registry consults, I liked to point out that in some ways the name is misleading because you don't walk away with just a baby registry, you also end up with some knowledge about planning for birth and postpartum and some tips and tricks in the process.”
Don’t be dumb like I was. Put support - including a postpartum doula - on your BeHerVillage gift registry so family & friends can help pay for what you’ll really need. They can still bring you a meal, walk your dog, or hold the baby while you shower - there’s enough of all that to go around.
If you are living in SoCal and are looking for a birth or postpartum doula, especially one that has a focus on all things breastfeeding, reach out to Angel! You can contact her by email, through her website and follow her on Instagram (@angelshnhdoula).
Feeling busy & overwhelmed? Save time & stress less on your journey into parenthood with Popins.
Popins Community Connection will get you set up with a postpartum doula & more in your area, based on your due date. Sign up for a personalized consult today.
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