What is a Post Partum Doula?
A post partum doula is a woman experienced with early motherhood, babies, children and the management of a household who provides educational, physical, emotional and practical support to families during the transitional weeks after a baby is born.
In my support of a new family I provide breastfeeding support and evidence based information on bottle feeding. I can help with laundry and light house-keeping, run errands, and assist with meal preparation. In a non-judgmental way I aid in the physical and emotional adjustment period after the birth. I help both parents learn infant soothing skills, practical ways to cope with the changes in lifestyle infants bring, and help with infant care skills that will build your confidence. I will refer you to professionals who can help you with problems or needs outside my scope of practice.
Why hire a Post Partum Doula?
Bringing a baby into your family means big changes whether it’s your first baby or your fourth. This little person will affect everyone in the family with his or her presence and personality. Mom will have need some recovery time both physically and emotionally from her birth and will need the time to focus on her new child as she gets to know this little person. Dad may need some physical recovery time if a lot of sleep was lost but he will need some time to adjust to this baby’s needs and the changes in the family and his role as a father. Brothers and sisters may experience a variety of feelings as the family dynamics shift around the baby’s needs and as their own roles in the family change. This transitional period can be smooth or difficult but no matter how it takes place families are sure to be impacted. That impact can have long lasting effects on the family relationships.
In the not so distant past men and women grew up surrounded by family, watching and learning as babies were born, breastfed, and grew from tiny infants, to adorable babies, and active toddlers, whether those babies were their siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, or neighborhood friends. They knew what babies were like. There was always someone who could help out with the washing, or show mom or dad how to bathe the baby, or help out with siblings who were busy active toddlers when mom needed to rest. People came by with meals for the family to ease the everyday pressures while mom recovered from birth, and they brought more than food, they brought companionship, understanding, and experience.
Today many families are rather isolated, their friends work, they may be geographically distanced from their parents or siblings, or in the case of parents who begin their families in their 30’s or 40’s their parents may be unable to help due to age or illness. Sometimes new parents are the first in their group of friends to have a baby and have no peers to turn to. This can be lonely place to be and if these new parents have not had the traditional experience of learning about babies from childhood they can be at a loss as to how to manage not just their baby’s needs, but their own, and can become overwhelmed with practical and emotional concerns. As your post partum doula, I work to fill in those gaps, giving quiet, caring support and guidance, so that you can grow into your parenting role with confidence.
What does she do to help?
My role as postpartum doula is fluid. An important part of my role is to talk with you, as parents, and work together to decide what type of support you will need. Some families need educational support: breastfeeding or bottle feeding know-how, infant care basics, and self- care for the new mother. Other families rely more on the non-judgmental emotional support that I have to offer, listening to the birth story, and the feelings that come up for anyone in the family, moms, dads, kids, and even grandparents as they adjust to caring for the newest member of the family. Still others have more practical needs – like feeding the family and running errands and keeping the house in order. Families that have older children when baby comes home may need assistance with caring for those children, the children may need someone to talk to or play with while their mom is busy, or there may be other needs that can help the children transition well into the role of big sister or brother. Most families find that I provide all of these things as needs develop, as well as keeping the lines of communication open, so I can serve them well.
The role-modeling and instruction I provide the father helps him learn the art of mothering the mother, which brings peace and harmony between them. His ability to really help the mom means that she will likely be more successful with breastfeeding and her risk of postpartum depression is reduced. Rather than being told to help out, partners and other family members benefit from concrete instruction and role-modeling on how to support a woman during the weeks after birth.
What is included in the service?
When I meet your family for the first time I find out what sort of help you need most. I learn about your experience level and confidence so that I can help you in the way that’s best for you. Together we work out a simple plan for the next several days or weeks, including how much time you’d like me to be with you, any particular skills you want to learn, and needs of particular family members. After your baby is born you’ll let me know the date you would like me to start helping and we go from there. I am available over the phone to answer questions at times when I am away from you and for breastfeeding questions later in your baby’s first year or when it is time to wean.
Some of the ways I support families are:
Hands-on education for infant and mother care
Help parents learn the abilities and talents of their baby
Create a nurturing, restful atmosphere in which parents may eat, shower and nap
Shop for groceries and prepare meals
Play with older children and offer suggestions for how to integrate the new baby into the family
Spend time with the baby, allowing parents to cuddle and have quality time with older children or just be alone together
Share parenting tips, so parents learn skills that help them to cope with their new responsibilities
Screen for hurdles such as breastfeeding challenges or postpartum mood disorders
Help to organize the nursery and home
Assist with baby’s laundry and tidying of the home
Offer a listening, non-judgmental ear
Make referrals to any local or informational resources that the parents might need
Many of the daytime helps and the following
Assess and help with evening breastfeeding
Diaper and burp baby, so that mom does not need to move around – she can just stay cozy in her bed to feed and snuggle baby
Bring snacks and beverages to the mother while feeding her baby
Prepare pump supplies or bottles for the next feeding or the next day
Care for baby while parents settle siblings for the night
Teach soothing techniques that work in the evening hours and help parents with the evening fussy time
Plenty of support for dad as he learns about baby care
When is the doula’s service complete?
The relationship between the doula and her clients requires the same maintenance as other important relationships in life, such as marriage or close friendships. It is important that communication remain open, as your needs or priorities may change with time or experience. I anticipate these changes and will be prepared to remain flexible in my role. As the families I work with gain confidence in their new role as parents I spend less time with them and work my way out of my job.
Why Hire Ellen?
I began my understanding of babies and children as a child growing up in a large extended family. Someone was always being born! I watched my aunts and mother care for and support each other. I learned much about babies in the traditional way by being around my cousins and neighbors from birth and watching them grow and develop into playful children. I have gained much experience with babies and families through my role as mother to my four children and through providing childcare to numerous families prior to having my own family as well as having served as a postpartum doula to several families. I understand the needs of families with multiple children and the transitions toddlers go through when a new baby is born, I’ve been through it myself.
I learned the true value of support when my first daughter was born and I struggled with breastfeeding and the needs of a very young baby. Without the daily in-person encouragement and support from my own mother, I would have had great difficulty in being successful and in continuing to nurse my daughter. My baby’s father had no idea how to help me and he struggled with the change in our relationship and the amount of time my daughter needed my attention. With the support from Mom, I got through those first 6 weeks and went on to have a close bond with my daughter and nursed her for 2 years.
As I had more children I began reading more about families and birth as well as breastfeeding and the post partum period. I have been trained as a birth doula through DONA International and have been assisting parents with birth since 2002. Watching families in the earliest stage of bonding with baby and meeting them in the first weeks after birth has helped me learn to assess the transition process and learn more about family interaction. I have been offering the earliest levels of post partum work to my birth families since I became a doula.
I received my education as a Certified Lactation Counselor through The Center for Breastfeeding and have been providing lactation assistance since 2000 when i began helping moms in the WIC program. Many women find that they are doing everything right but they just needed someone to tell them how well they were doing. Others really are struggling with painful breastfeeding or baby that is slow to gain, and I give them the information, and support they need to succeed. Being with mothers face-to-face, at home, means that my support is there when they need it.
As a post partum doula I strive to support and educate parents and assist them with the transition to parenthood. It’s my pleasure to be with you during the very special time when a baby comes into your life. Helping you have a peaceful transition will mean that you have wonderful memories of the time when your baby was very young.