An Overview of Birth and Postpartum Doulas from the Premier Doula Agency on the South Shore: New World Doula Services
What is a doula? How can a doula help all birthing and newly postpartum women?
A birth doula is defined as being a continuous support person to a laboring woman and
her partner, providing non-judgmental, emotional, physical, and informational support.
What does this mean? This means that a doula is the support person, hired by you and
not your provider, who usually provides 1-2 prenatal visits in your home to go over your plans for birth and how she can best be a part of your birth team, stays with you during labor and through the birth of your baby(ies), and provides 1-2 postpartum visits in your home, as well as giving you unlimited phone/email support. She provides physical comfort measures (such as massage, position changes, breathing, and relaxation techniques) to guide you through the labor process.
She is the person in the room who knows birth and what is normal and what isn’t, and can reassure you and your partner when something doesn’t go as you hoped. She provides information to you so you and your partner can make informed decisions about your care. Most importantly, she empowers you. We, as doulas, believe in the amazing strength women have and are there to remind you every step of the way.
Birth doulas also improve birth outcomes. Studies (read more here:
https://evidencebasedbirth.com/using-a-doula-for-pain-relief/ ) show that continuous support from a doula leads to a 31% decrease in the use of pitocin (synthetic oxytocin), 28% decrease in the risk of a cesarean, 12% increase in the probability of a vaginal birth, as well as a decrease in the use of pain medications or the need for newborns to be admitted to a special care nursery. Finally, use of a doula leads to more positive birth experiences.
A postpartum doula offers support similar to a birth doula, but in the client’s home after
the baby is born. She is an expert in newborn care, breastfeeding and bottle feeding support, and postpartum mental health. She will also offer practical support to help you get through those early days, such as baby laundry and food prep. Finally, they can be a big help with sibling support and that transition into the 4th trimester.
Postpartum doulas offer two kinds of shifts: daytime and overnight. A daytime shifts
usually consists of a 3-4 hour shift where your doula will help with the day-to-day needs.
Sometimes, it’s just holding your baby so you can nap or shower! Sometimes, it’s going with you on errands so you have an extra set of hands. Sometimes, it’s sitting with you while you nurse your baby and actively listening to your struggles and successes. Overnight shifts are really about helping new parents get the rest they need. We stay in the same room as your baby(ies) and change them, feed them (if bottle feeding), burp them and get them back to sleep. Having a new baby takes its toll on your body, so being able to catch up on sleep, even just one night a week can be so helpful, both physically and emotionally. Studies show that postpartum doulas help reduce postpartum mood disorders, improve breastfeeding success, and provide superior outcomes in adjusting to life with a new baby (www.dona.org/what-is-a-doula/benefits-of-a-doula/).
Our doulas offer you the best in unbiased and compassionate suppport. You don’t have
to do it alone. We can help you along this amazing journey through parenthood!
Author Jocelyn Albertson is the owner of New World Doula Services, LLC. She is a Certified Birth and Postpartum and Infant Care Doula a Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Postpartum Placenta Specialist. To learn more about her services or contact Jocelyn please visit her website: http://www.newworlddoula.com/
I blame Hollywood celebrities for the downfall of woman safely recovering from childbirth. Women are constantly seeing a barrage of images where celebrities give birth and then a few days later they look as if they’ve never been pregnant. As a result, women and men alike have this vision of women going back to their pre-pregnancy body within weeks or even days after childbirth. We know intuitively that it is unrealistic, they are a unicorn in the vast landscape of postpartum recovery. However, we still hold faith that if they can get their body back quickly, so can we. They’re not superhuman after all.
However, these unrealistic expectations cause beliefs and behaviors that put the long-term wellness of postpartum women at risk. New moms, in a haze of hormones and sleep deprivation, try the newest fad diet and exercise programs promising to help them “get their pre-pregnancy body back”, as if it’s been lost in the mail.
It’s considered a badge of honor to leave the house with your newborn as soon as you can slip real clothes on. Gone are the days where neighbors and friends ban together for meals being delivered, house being cleaned, and baby being tended. That’s now for the weak.
I read messages from moms on social media bragging about lifting their 40 lb. toddler days after their c-section, or going to an amusement park at 2 weeks postpartum, or training for a road race starting at 6 weeks postpartum. All of this as if their core muscles hadn’t undergone a major trauma just 6 weeks before. Women are rarely encouraged to relax, accept help from friends and family, and give their bodies the time and attention necessary to heal.
Why do we think that is? Is it because childbirth has become so commonplace, so publicized, so openly talked about? Hard to say, but I’m here to say we need to allow our moms time to rest and recover post childbirth whether they deliver vaginally or via c-section. Both methods of delivery impact the core system and need proper rehab to resume optimal function. It is not the standard of care for women to receive rehab after childbirth, far from it. And I’m hard-pressed to explain why. Many other injuries, surgeries, or conditions qualify for therapy, but not childbirth.
Women are given the green light to resume exercise as tolerated at their 6 week postpartum check-up with no regard for their method of delivery, pregnancy complications, birth complications, or any other musculoskeletal complaints. If someone has a hip replacement, postoperative rehab includes consideration of the type of approach the surgeon used, what activities or movements they may need to avoid immediately after surgery, what type of activity that want to progress to, if they have any job requirements, and many more factors. All of this information shapes their rehabilitation program.
As a society, we need to take better care of our mothers, and I’m not just saying that because I am one. Postpartum rehab should be standard of care for all mothers whether they have had a cesarean delivery or vaginal birth. Last year, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) announced their new recommendations for postpartum care. It involves recommending earlier and more comprehensive follow-up with mothers post childbirth and referral to physical therapy as appropriate. This is great news! But we all know real change will take time.
Luckily, until appropriate postpartum care becomes a universal standard of care, women have the option to educate themselves and pursue their own course of postpartum rehab. Many states, including Massachusetts, have direct access to physical therapy and chiropractic care. This means you do not need a referral to see a physical therapist or chiropractor of your choice. Inner Strength Physical Therapy and Seaside Chiropractic frequently coordinate care to develop individualized physical therapy and chiropractic treatment plans for our clients. Pursuing postpartum rehab with practitioners that are well-versed in the changes that the female body goes through during pregnancy and childbirth can help to guide you toward a safe return to physical activity. We can help you learn to manage “mom problems” that, despite being common, do not need to be your normal. Moms do not need to live with incontinence, low back pain, pelvic pain, or mummy tummy. Pelvic floor physical therapy and chiropractic care can help! If you are a postnatal mom or are currently pregnant, educate and advocate for yourself! Make your health and well-being a priority!
Author Alicia Bertoni-Hickey is the owner of Inner Strength Physical Therapy. To connect with her please visit: http://www.istrengthpt.com/