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Should I Hire a Postpartum Doula?

Most likely the answer is yes. Here’s why:

A few years ago, the term postpartum doula was unheard of. While birth doulas have become more popular, postpartum doula services may not be as widely known. A doula is a woman “to mother the mother,” and a postpartum doula specifically provides support for the woman, and indeed the family, during the days, weeks and months following birth.

The postpartum period is a fragile time in a woman’s life. She has undergone a huge transformation physically as she has just given birth to another human being, after months of growing and carrying him or her. Her emotions are raw and fluctuating. Her hormones are rebalancing. She is exhausted and pouring herself out around the clock for her new baby. She is simultaneously rejoicing and recovering. And she needs to be upheld by those around her.

The Village

There was a time when the proverbial village filled this need. Mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and cousins came into a woman’s home and took care of her during this time. Often the mother stayed in bed for an extended period of time, only caring for the baby. Her “village” prepared healing foods such as broths and soups and took care of the other children and household tasks. It was understood that a monumental event had taken place with the birth of a child. She was not expected to “bounce back”. All around the world, and all throughout time, women have cared for new mothers. China, India, Mexico, Russia, and various Native cultures have all had their own traditional rituals and regimens, oils and herbs, food and drink. Many cultures still practice this care for a postpartum woman today.

The Missing Village

We seem to have lost our way with postpartum care in our modern lifestyles. We move from place to place, away from family. We are not connected to our past, our traditions and our mothers. There is a missing link between the old ways of caring for new mothers and the now-prevalent expectation that a new mother must, in a matter of days, get back to “normal.” We bring our babies to homes filled with baby “stuff,” but we feel alone, lost and unsure of ourselves as mothers. We need help, we need a listening ear, a bowl of soup and someone to show us how to swaddle our baby. We need our village.

Postpartum Doulas: Bringing Back the Village

This is the void that postpartum doulas step into when there is no strong support system in place. This is the gap they fill. They are a modern-day woman’s village. The postpartum doula comes into the home and upholds the woman with her presence. She may bring a nutritious broth and listen to her birth story. She may hold the newborn while mom takes a shower, or a much-needed nap. She may read to the toddler clamoring for mom’s attention or demonstrate baby-wearing. Maybe she will load a dishwasher or do a pick-up order. Perhaps she will just sit with her and be a listening ear to an isolated soul. In short, she will nurture the life-giving mother so that the mother may have life to give.

postpartum woman with baby
A woman in postpartum needs support
The Cost of a Village

Although postpartum care is needed more than ever, it is sadly often looked upon as a luxury for the wealthy. Society cannot afford NOT to fill this void of the mother’s village. Consider, up to 1 in 5 women will experience a Postpartum Mood Disorder. 50-85% of all women will experience what is commonly known as “baby blues,” while 13% will experience postpartum depression.

What kind of an impact on society would it make to have a woman regularly interacting with a postpartum doula who is trained to look for signs of PMDs and refer their client for help? Can you measure the cost of maternal mental health when you consider the ripple affect it has on a family when mothers are lacking vital support?

Sometimes a postpartum doula is covered by an Health Savings Account (HSA) or some other supplemental insurance program, but that is rare. A more immediate solution is to gift the woman postpartum care through Be Her Village This baby registry for moms allows people to contribute to her desired perinatal support.

Yes, You Need a Village

So, whether you save, register, barter or forgo the unnecessary baby gadgets, hire a postpartum doula! Invite the village to uphold and nurture you during your postpartum period. You and your baby will be better for it!

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