Category Archives: postpartum doula

What a Postpartum Doula Does

Your postpartum doula to the rescue!

After your baby is born you will need support.You will be recovering from birth, learning how to breastfeed and learning to care for your new baby all at the same time.  Where will you get the support you need? Some new moms get it from their family: their mothers, mothers-in-law, sisters, etc. Some get it from their religious community. Some get if from their friends who are already mothers. Others hire a postpartum doula.

Postpartum doulas are there to help you recover from birth and integrate being a mom into your life. They help assure breastfeeding success. They help you rest and recover and assist you with baby basics. They answer your questions. Many questions revolve around “is this normal?” They bring you meals and do some light housework — usually laundry. They aren’t maids or house cleaners. You can hire a house cleaner for less.

Postpartum doulas help you avoid postpartum depression. They support you as you mother. then they wean themselves away from you and leave you mothering like a champ!

SIDS and Breastfeeding and Mamatoto

Mamatoto: mom and baby are one.

I was just looking at a blog called Analytical Armadillo. She speaks of a meta study in which 19 of 23 studies done on SIDS showed that formula-fed babies were twice as likely to die of SIDS as breastfed babies. A postmortem diagnoses of SIDS means that they couldn’t find out why a baby died. They did see twice as many deaths in formula-fed babies.

I haven’t been able to get at the original study to access it for myself. It is a good hypothesis and it makes sense.  Studies on kangaroo care and breastfeeding are showing us that the mother and infant should be considered as one. Both mama and baby are healthier when they are together. In La Leche League we call it a breastfeeding “dyad”. Some call it a “nursing couple”. In Swahili, it is called “mamatoto”.

We should know by now that mamatoto does better than mama and baby separated. Breastfeeding encourages togetherness. Formula does not.

Two Helpers for New Parents

As a new parent you will be learning how to incorporate a baby into your life. The One-Armed Cook is a cookbook that can help you. All of the recipes were prepared one-handed. It is full of tips to help you get back to cooking while you are mothering (or fathering).

My second suggestion is the Flylady. Her website will help you take baby steps to getting your home environment back to where you are comfortable. She will help you declutter your home and keep it neat, clean and organized, even with a baby! The Flylady is comforting and very helpful. I am still taking baby steps myself!

What New Moms Need Most

Giving birth is a big event in any mother’s life. You prepare for birth and take breastfeeding classes. Now your baby is here in your arms. What do you need most? I asked this question of mothers that I know. These are their frank answers:

Selena’s top priority: “sleep and nourishment.”

Everyone knows how to get sleep and as an adult, you can get food for yourself. But as a new mother, your baby will be nursing around the clock. You are probably not used to that schedule. When you are home for the first couple of weeks (or longer with a cesarean birth — 6 to 8 weeks) you need to recover from birth. The support you need is making sure you get some sleep and that you don’t need to worry where your meals come from.

Karen writes: “Sleep. Accept help. Adjust expectations. Accept and embrace that what you are able to do is what you need to be doing — resting, healing, feeding your baby, and bonding.

“And for heaven’s sake, if those things don’t help, please don’t be embarrassed to get help above and beyond that. One of my most dire regrets in life is that I didn’t ask for help, and I totally cheated myself and my children out of an irreplaceable time!”

Karen’s point is very valid. We feel that we should be capable of  taking care of ourselves and a tiny baby. We shouldn’t need any help. This is wrong! All new mothers need support! Why do you think we live in communities and not in separate caves? Being a new mother is a unique time. All women need support and so do you!

Adia adds her voice: “Sleep. A great support system. Accept and adjust to your new lifestyle and body. If you are having real problems, you will need to seek help.”

These mothers have all been through it themselves. Listen to their wisdom. Then you can look forward to a peaceful postpartum!

Child-Led Weaning

It is now only two days until World Breastfeeding Week begins, and I’m examining the topic of child-led weaning. Dr. Sears discussed the idea of attachment parenting. If you force a child to wean from something before they are ready, he says, the child will transfer that unfulfilled need to the next thing they use for soothing. For example, a child who has been weaned from nursing before he is ready, might become attached to a security blanket instead.

With my own nursing relationship, I decided to allow my son to lead his weaning. Before I gave birth, my plan was to nurse him for one year. After he was born I started to revise my thinking. When my son was a year old, nursing was still his very favorite thing to do. He was still my baby and it seemed natural to continue our nursing relationship.

What many pregnant first-time mothers don’t realize is that a toddler eats most of his diet as solid foods and nurses far less often than a newborn does. I say I nursed my son for three and a half years, but by the end we were nursing only once a day, at bedtime, to help him sleep. That’s what weaning is about. Nursing slows in frequency bit by bit. Not only is baby-led slow weaning easier for the baby, it is also easier for the mom.

Nursing mothers get used to the soothing effects of prolactin and oxytocin which are released during nursing. These hormones help moms relax. If a mom weans too abruptly, the sudden change in hormone levels can lead to postpartum depression. Baby-led weaning is a gentle weaning for both mother and child. Being a mother means watching your baby grow and mature and make strides toward independence. Each of these changes is a kind of weaning. It’s great to see your child grow independent—but it’s nice for mom if the changes are gradual, so she can get used to how big and independent her baby has become!