newborn

Ask the Educators: What is a Postpartum Doula and What Do They Do?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, “What is a postpartum doula and what do they do?”

Maybe you have wondered the same? Maybe you have heard of a postpartum doula, but want to know more. Maybe you’ve never heard of one. Our amazing Childbirth Educator, Terra will help breakdown exactly what a postpartum can do for your and your family.

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Just like birth doulas, postpartum doulas are widely known in some circles and have never been heard of in others. As our society begins to recognize that the needs of families and mothers are not being met, awareness is starting to grow about the positive and pivotal role a postpartum doula can play. So what exactly is a postpartum doula?

Postpartum doulas are trained professionals who provide physical, emotional, and educational support after your little one’s birth. The key here is that postpartum doulas provide unbiased and evidence-based care. So many mamas are afraid to ask questions of their families or friends because they know they will receive advice or opinions that may feel judgemental. Imagine being able to ask someone for unbiased advice and support - someone who doesn't have their own personal agenda for your child in their response! A postpartum doula’s goal is to leave you feeling so empowered and confident that they work their way out of a job. You know your baby better than anybody else, and a postpartum doula’s hope is to encourage you to find that strength and trust your intuition.

But a postpartum doula is so much more than just being your biggest cheerleader and advocate. Postpartum doulas not only answer questions, provide resources, and listen to any concerns you may have, but they help cover the day to day basics as well.

Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding

Postpartum doulas are trained to assist with all types of feeding and to provide the best resources for you on your journey. They know that whatever path you choose, it can be tough to navigate, and asking questions feels overwhelming because there are so many different opinions. Many postpartum doulas have additional lactation training, or know lactation counselors or IBCLCs who can drop by for an in-home visit. They can assist with pumping questions and help prep, clean, and wash everything you need for feeding so that you don’t have to. Most importantly, they are there to normalize that feeding isn’t always a walk in the park, and there are lots of tips and tools that can help.

Emotional and Physical Support

Postpartum doulas help create a safe space for you to process your birth experience, or new feelings that arise after your birth. Sometimes it feels so good to tell your birth story, and sometimes there are new feelings that are overwhelming to work through. Postpartum doulas are there to listen, but also to encourage you to seek extra support when needed. They have a wealth of resources here in the community and want you to know there is always someone to talk to if this path is feeling far harder than expected. In addition to emotional support, they are there to make sure you are taking care of you. Your doula encourages you to take naps, enjoy some alone time, and soak in a bath. They want you to know that you are your greatest asset, and the more you can feel cared for, the more you can feel confident in your parenting role.

Newborn Care

Want to learn how to give your little one a bath, soothe them, use that new baby carrier, or just have a question about what is normal? Postpartum doulas can help normalize the often overwhelming transition to becoming a parent, teach helpful tips and tricks, and help make your new role of being a parent of one or more kiddos feel manageable. A postpartum doula is not a medical care professional, but they can help navigate some of your basic questions and refer you to your provider when a question is out of their scope of practice.

Household Help

Laundry, dishes, meal prep, and more. Postpartum doulas are there to help take care of the small stuff that can feel BIG when you have a newborn. At the start of every shift, your doula will sit down with  you and ask what is top of mind - is it holding your little one so you can get some solid rest, emptying and reloading the dishwasher, sweeping the kitchen, starting a meal, taking the pup on a walk, or all of the above? Postpartum doulas are there to assist you with everyday things so that you can simply BE, rest, shower, and bond with your little one.

Day and Night Support

Yes that is right, postpartum doulas help provide daytime and overnight support as well. Most daytime shifts are 3-4 hours and overnight shifts are typically 8 hours. Your doula wants you to feel supported when you need it the most. It is flexible and individualized for every family. Some families seek out support multiple times a week and some families only need a few shifts. Postpartum doulas can be of help anywhere from the first few hours you bring your little one home to months afterwards. Every mama and family is different, and postpartum doulas work to support you in the way that fits best.

So how do you find one of these magical postpartum doulas you ask? Talk to us at Blooma! We have wonderful recommendations of postpartum doulas who are on staff, or in our community. We want YOU to feel supported and cheered on during this wonderful, crazy, and oh such a journey transition and postpartum doulas are there to help.

Written by Terra Peterson Jonker, DONA Certified Birth Doula, trained Postpartum Doula, and Childbirth Educator and Prenatal Yoga Teacher at Blooma.

You can find a class with Terra, or any of our other childbirth educators here.

Prepping for Baby Number Three

Eight weeks and counting. But it could be six weeks or even ten. Still, at least we’re in the single digits. That’s when this new baby comes - at full force - to make his or her presence known. It’s not that I don’t like being pregnant. I actually do enjoy it. I am truly aware of the miracle inside of me – what it means to have a human growing within my own humanity. Even as I’m typing this, my belly is moving like ocean waves as the baby kicks and stretches within me. It is absolutely incredible.

But, there is something about the end of the third trimester. There is so much anticipation for labor and delivery, for who this new little one is going to be, for how my current two toddlers are going to be with him/her, and, for our surprise, if this baby is a boy or girl! Plus, nine months is a long time! I’m ready to have this baby on the outside rather than the inside.

It has been a different experience prepping for this baby other than our first two. As new parents, there is so much equipment and clothing to acquire. You find yourselves consumed by research for car seats, strollers, and high chairs. You also find that when baby comes, all-consuming love for both your partner and this new child takes over every inch of your heart. With the second baby, we didn’t need to acquire many additional items for the baby. Maybe an upgrade on few things and another dresser, but for the most part, we had everything needed for a new baby. As I’m sure all parents wonder if it will actually happen, our hearts grew exponentially when our daughter looked up at our eyes, surprising us by being a girl who came earlier than her guess date and with a much faster birth than our son. So, this third time around, we’re prepping for this baby in a much different way than I expected.

Blooma Prenatal Yoga Classes - I have attended many more prenatal yoga classes this third time around than either before. I discovered during my second pregnancy and labor/delivery, how much yoga helped strengthen and stretch my body during pregnancy and prepared me for labor. I learned how to breathe through uncomfortable (that turned to painful) labor as well as how to move my body to make room for baby. During my second labor in particular, I used many yoga positions and breathing techniques I learned in prenatal yoga classes. Prepping for this baby has meant trying to get to at least one prenatal class per week!

Rearranging/Simplifying – It might be because we live in state with long and dark winters, but for me, every spring brings a giant urge to declutter, deep clean, and simplify our home. So, with this baby due this spring, nesting makes this urge kick in even earlier! My poor husband seems to have a new piece of furniture to move, store, or sell every couple of days. And, my kids have a lot less knick-knacks around, but shhhhh, they haven’t noticed yet! I want this baby to have space both in our home, and in our hearts. As we rearrange and simplify our life, I see that we are rearranging and simplifying our hearts to make room for this new babe. How will this baby fit in our current life? What new parts of ourselves will we learn and discover with the presence of this addition to our family? We have to make room now, in order to be ready!

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Making time for those who are here now - I have tried to be more diligent about making extra time for both my husband and each of our children. There will come a time in a handful of weeks where the majority of my time will be dedicated to little human who requires a lot of needs and attention. So, in these weeks leading up to his/her birth, I’m putting down my phone, pushing off cleaning chores, and waking early (while everyone is sleeping) to get work complete. This way I can spend more time during the day reading my daughter an extra book before nap, helping my son practice letters, and giving more undivided attention to my husband. These are ways I can love them here in the present, instead of being too focused on what is coming in the near future.

Gathering up postpartum goodies – Like I said before, there is not much that the baby will need once he/she comes that we do not already have or can borrow. Instead, I have been collecting a few new goodies for my own postpartum comfort and healing.

Navel Yoga Pants: Mama, doula, yogi, and Blooma-founder/extraordinaire, Sarah Longacre, launched a new brand of yoga pants (and   community right along with it) to fit the physical and emotional changes that come with being a mom. My favorite part of them: the high-waist and detachable belly band for extra coverage and support. I cannot wait to live in these pants during those days cuddling my newborn.

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Bath Salts: A dear family friend owns a holistic skincare and cleaning line out of Brooklyn, NY  (Between You and The Moon). I am lucky enough to try a lot of their products, and this is one of my favorites! Those sitz baths postpartum, even if only for 10 minutes, have been huge lifesavers for my own physical and emotional healing.

Breastfeeding Tanks: For my last two babies, I have breastfed for a full year after they are born. I live in breastfeeding tanks. I have always bought cheap ones that work fine, but this time around, I’m really hoping for something nicer. Maybe even something that aren’t so ratty by the end of my breastfeeding run, they end up in the garbage. I’m still trying to figure out which is best – so if you have any suggestions, send them my way!

New Baby Clothes: I know that I said we really wouldn’t be buying anything new for the baby. However, with already having one boy and one girl, this baby really won’t be getting any new clothing over the course of his/her life – most will be hand-me-downs. In my head, means the new baby should get at least one or two new newborn sleepers.

As my family and I continue to prepare for the arrival of our new one, please know how each of you are in my thoughts (especially if I take class with you) as you prepare for your new ones as well!

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work