By Olivia Spitzer of Doula Olivia
You were pregnant for nine months and throughout strangers held doors open for you, they gave you their seat on the bus. Your friends fawned over your belly. Your co-workers brought you chocolate. Then you did this hard and incredible thing – you birthed a baby! The nurses took care of you, food was brought to your bed, and you felt supported. Then – BOOM – you came home and suddenly it was just you and baby. You may feel alone and isolated, you may feel frustrated, you may feel like you have no idea who you are now versus who you used to be. What you need is some postpartum support, but you have no idea where to start.
Your Friends and Family
The first step to getting the support you need is to activate the support you already have. There are few things in life that your community genuinely wants to help you with. No one reallywants to help you move. But peopledoreally want to help you have a baby! The trick is, giving them structure to help you. When you have friends and family over to meet the new baby, it is time to reimagine those visits for yourself. You are NOT “the hostess.” You do not need to offer them water or put out snacks. You are there to be loved on just as much as your baby is. Sometimes this means posting a list of chores that your friends can do for you (taking out the garbage, loading the dishwasher, starting some laundry) before they hold the baby. Sometimes this means activating a meal train. Sometimes it means giving yourself permission to take a shower or a nap while you friends are over (because it is 100% NOT rude to do). You just had a baby and the rules are different now. Give yourself the permission to reframe these visits and you will feel more supported and less alone.
You may find that you are struggling with breastfeeding. You are not alone! It can be very challenging to get into a groove with this new baby, finding a position and a latch and a style that works for the two of you. This is where lactation consultants can be very helpful.
It is possible you saw a lactation consultant while you were still in the hospital. You can continue to utilize this resource after you have been discharged. Call your provider and ask them what your options are surrounding out-patient lactation support. Many hospital IBCLCs (international board-certified lactation consultants) run new mama clinics out of the hospital where you can meet other women with babies the same age as yours AND receive lactation support at the same time.
Private lactation consultants (as opposed to hospital provided support) can come and visit you in your home, providing help exactly where you need most: where you actually breastfeed! They are trained professionals who specialize in treating your breastfeeding situation as a whole, looking beyond just your latch. They may be able to diagnose unproductive positioning better than a hospital IBCLC can, because they are seeing you in your natural breastfeeding environment. Even one visit from a lactation consultant can make a big difference.
Hiring a postpartum doula can be a great choice. Postpartum doulas either visit you for a daytime shift or an overnight shift. Daytime shifts can include: meal prep, light house work, birth story processing, sibling or pet integration with baby, or simply giving you the space and time you need to take care of yourself. Doulas who work overnight will take care of your baby whenever they wake up. If you are breastfeeding, your doula will bring your baby to you in your bed, help you to feed, and then take the baby away for burping, changing, and soothing back to sleep. If you are bottle feeding your baby, your doula will not need to wake you up at all. These overnight shifts can be a game changer for new parents, allowing them to get a full night’s sleep. Whether you chose to utilize your postpartum doula during the day or overnight, their presence can really help you feel grounded and supported.
These are just three options for postpartum support. There so many others: you can join new mama FB groups, find an in-person meeting for new moms, start attending baby and me classes and events. The support is out there for you – start by asking and you will find there are hands and heart all around you, ready to help.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.