Just imagine all the reading, consults, appointments, groups and classes we engage in to prepare for our labour day!  We make a birth plan, we choose our caregivers, we enroll in a prenatal yoga class, we hire a doula, all so we can hopefully have a positive and empowering birth experience.  And that is great.  But how many of us spend that much time and energy and investment in preparing for after we bring that sweet little thing home?  Did you know that it can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks to recover from birth and begin to transition into your parenting role?  And that is if your birth went smoothly!  Imagine if you had a long labour, or were induced, or had an epidural or a c-section?  Statistics show that these birth experiences increase the time it takes to recover and transition to well beyond that 12-week mark.

Being a new parent is hard work and can often times be overwhelming and exhausting.  We are learning new skills at an alarming rate, all while we are sleep deprived, and for mom, hormonal.  This makes retention, patience and ability stretched and compromised.  Is it any wonder that postpartum depression and anxiety, in both women and their partners, are on the rise?  We often are not setting ourselves up for success in this vulnerable but most important time of our life as new parents.

In other cultures, they often have traditional practices that not only recognize the immense significance of becoming a parent but the challenge and the need to support parents through this important and transformational time.  Cultures who instill practices of “Mothering the Mother” see a significant decrease in postpartum mood disorders and an increase in satisfaction. Supporting the mothers’ recovery, learning of new baby care skills and breastfeeding education and support can make all the difference in helping her, and in turn her partner, succeed smoothly and positively into becoming a parent.

Imagine if you had someone who could come into the home, encourage and facilitate rest, support and enhance breastfeeding skills, abilities and confidences for those who choose to breastfeed and educate on bottle feeding for those that choose this , show bathing, babywearing, diapering and swaddling skills, educate on sleep expectations, encourage and facilitate good nutrition, hydration and physical healing, educate you on possible postpartum emotions, and offer community resources and recommendations, assist with older siblings and help them transition and assist in bonding with your new little one.  All of this offered to you in that 4th trimester period during your baby’s first 3 months, when you are the most overwhelmed and vulnerable.  Imagine that kind of invaluable support.

This is exactly what you can expect to receive when you engage the services of a postpartum doula.  Many of us have never heard of such a service.  We maybe are familiar with night nurses or night nanny’s or just nanny’s in general or mothers’ helpers.  But perhaps we are not familiar with the term postpartum doula.  Some may think they can engage such a person’s services as a “babysitter”, which I suppose you could, but with their vast amounts of knowledge and experience and abilities to support you with so much more, why would you just pay them to babysit?

Find a postpartum doula!  Hire them!  And let them be a part of your 4th trimester, to help you feel supported, taken care of, confident and positive as you transition into the hardest transition of them all, parenthood!  Don’t think of them as an overpaid babysitter, maybe instead we should look at it as an underpaid life changer!  Start out right!  Utilize something that many cultures have valued for thousands of years, an educated, well respected woman, experienced in giving new parents tools to succeed.  Pursuing this while you are pregnant can help everyone prepare for what is ahead, build that relationship with your doula and build the trust and connection you have with her, but if you didn’t know or have time while pregnant, don’t let that stop you form finding this support!  What ever support you can receive can help you gain the confidence you can use to continue your parenting journey.

Written by Sharon Loose – Owner of Calgary Birth Essentials, CCE, CD, BDT, LE, PD