While Postpartum gets lumped into meaning “depression,” the term postpartum literally means “post-birth.” Therefore, every person that gives birth, goes through a postpartum period. A well-trained professional postpartum doula attunes, assists, and educates during this period. Also known as the 4th Trimester and beyond.
Having unbiased, non-judgmental support during an extremely vulnerable time in one’s life, can help reduce the instances of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, and increase successes of breastfeeding beyond the first 2 weeks. Hiring a postpartum doula can also instill strength and confidence, while reducing fear and insecurities in a new parent.
A knock at the door introduced me to someone that would rock my world … for the better! Four weeks ago, at my baby shower, a colleague smiled and handed me a card. As I opened it in curiosity, I was greeted with a gift card. Pretty standard for a baby shower. Yet this was no ordinary gift card. This gift card was for a doula. More specifically, a postpartum doula. I smirked with appreciation and confusion. My colleagues had pooled together funds to provide my family with the support of a postpartum doula. With my due date looming, I had little time to get used to the idea.
Her smile was magical and mesmerizing.
My doula, Elaine, entered my safe space and greeted me. We spoke briefly on the phone prior to set up our “first date.” Emerson was only 14 days old, and although I felt fantastic, I didn’t want a thoughtful gift to go unused. Little did I know that this doula would provide the answers to my unspoken needs. We sat on the couch to get to know each other more. And although we had just met, as the conversation grew, my guard and shoulders began to fall. Her presence naturally brought peace to my chaos.
Her confidence as she spoke reassured me that I was in great hands.
What seemed like minutes had actually been an hour, and soon a slumbering baby began to stir. As I got up to retrieve Emerson from the bassinet, Elaine followed suit to meet my little person. She picked Emerson up and introduced herself, walking over to the changing pad and changing baby’s diaper without prompting. I took the opportunity to prepare myself for the feeding that was about to occur. Having someone trained to assist me was comforting, although I felt nursing was going well. I pleaded for a wide mouth, and Emerson protested with a pouty lip. I tickled and adjusted and continued to get a good latch.
Then something happened.
Elaine gave me a look, that I answered back with a nod. She came behind me and made some simple yet unfamiliar adjustments. She guided me through what she was doing, and explained the why. That was it! Emerson latched on, and I felt a sensation that I had been yearning for. No pain, no tears, and gulps that would make a college frat boy jealous. This nursing session was just like the books and blogs describe. And like it is with old friends, the conversation between Elaine and me picked up where it had left off.
As we went back in the living room, a wave of exhaustion overcame me. Realizing that I hadn’t slept well the previous nights, I asked Elaine if she would feel comfortable caring over Emerson while I took a quick nap. “It would be my pleasure,” escaped her lips. I snuck off for a much needed, much anticipated siesta. The trust that I had in someone that I had barely met was out of character for me. However, the connection that was made in the short time with Elaine was one that I hadn’t experienced. I knew Emerson would be safe in the care of an infant care expert, and I’d be able to let my mind wander into a deep sleep.
She remembered! Paid attention! She just KNEW!
Emerging from my room, well-rested, showered, and famished I reunited with my doula; and found her placing the final touches to what was deliciously awaiting me on the table. Throughout our conversations, Elaine picked up on my mentions of cravings and likes and dislikes. Not only had she tidied up the kitchen, the baby station was restocked, my nursing nest set up for the next feeding, and Emerson was swaddled and sleeping soundly in the nearby bassinet. Giving Emerson a kiss and a touch, I walked over and gave my doula a hug of gratitude. “Thank you. Thank you for caring for us and about us!”
I ate lunch with two hands. A hot meal that wasn’t rushed and more excitedly, that I didn’t have to prepare! I shared my birth story. I talked about my relationship. We laughed about the latest pop culture hullabaloo. We discussed realities and expectations. She addressed my postpartum and motherhood concerns. She gave insight and information about what to look for in the coming weeks.
We developed a genuine relationship.
Elaine’s shift was ending. Emerson stirred for the next feeding. She brought the baby to me, I got nestled into my restocked and ready-for-me nursing nest. Water sat to my left along with burp cloth, pacifier, and a small container of trail mix. And to my right, my phone and remote sat. “Why hadn’t I thought of that?!” I thought to myself. “Everything I need within perfect reach.”
Reassured that I was situated and all of my needs had been attended to, Elaine saw herself out. The gift from my co-workers was not what I expected, but was exactly what I needed. I made the decision right then to secure a long-term contract with my postpartum doula. A text from Elaine recapping our time together pinged my phone, along with words of encouragement.