I Wish I Had Known About Postpartum Doulas
I first learned about doulas when I was pregnant with my son. In fact, I hired a doula for his birth! And I loved it, I loved her and the experience of having a doula.
I hired a doula because I had plans for my birth, and I wanted extra support in my pursuit of those plans.
You know what else I had plans for? The type of parent I wanted to be.
People always talk about birth plans, and take them so seriously. But when it comes to plans for the postpartum period—for parenting—instead of serious, we get memes that say things like, “I was a perfect parent before I actually became a parent.”
I had no delusions of being a “perfect” parent, but I did have plans that didn’t pan out—and not because they were far-fetched, just because I didn’t have the type of support I needed.
I bedshare, but I didn’t want to.
I could. not. stay. awake. during middle of the night feeds.
Left to my own devices (literally, I tried watching exciting tv shows, scrolling Facebook, the works), I was floundering, so my husband pulled a spare mattress into our bedroom floor and created a safe sleep space based on The Safe Sleep Seven for my son and I.
Eventually we moved back into the actual bed, making attempts to get my son into the bassinet for bedtime—and failing.
I didn’t know then that I could hire someone who:
-would sit with me at night while I breastfed my son to keep me company and provide stimulating conversation to keep me awake
-who would bring me snacks and refill my water so I didn’t have to go down the stairs for the umpteenth time while recovering from giving birth
-who could have helped me transition my son to his crib when the time came so that I wasn’t stuck with this large piece of floor-decor, still unused, in the middle of my bedroom
I could go on. I’m not a bad parent because plans changed or because I bedshare—I know this. And I don’t think anyone who actively chooses to bedshare is a bad parent!
But this was something that I didn’t want for my family, something that I felt forced into: I resorted to bedsharing out of self-preservation and concerns for my son’s safety.
I wish I had know about postpartum doulas then, and this is part of why I am one now. Parents shouldn’t have to make decisions out of fear.
We always talk about the importance of a “healthy mom, healthy baby” in the arena of birth, forgetting that healthy goes beyond surviving delivery.
Postpartum plans—plans for parenthood—should be approached with the same level of seriousness as birth plans, and parents should be offered the same level of support in pursuing them.
If they were, I truly believe we’d not only have healthier moms and babies, but happier families, too.