Nurturing the Journey: Becoming a Postpartum Doula

A Guide to Becoming a Postpartum Doula


For many women, welcoming a new life into the world is a miraculous and transformative experience. The birth of a baby marks the birth of a mother. Across diverse cultures globally, the postpartum period, also known as matrescence is a time of transition in nearly every facet of a woman's life, as beautifully noted by Kelsey Borresen in Huff Post. It holds profound significance, casting a sacred light on a woman's journey. As a postpartum professional, your role is crucial in supporting her. This blog post will guide you on how to embark on the rewarding journey of becoming a postpartum doula, providing holistic care and empowering mothers on their breastfeeding journeys.


Understanding the Role of a Postpartum Doula: A postpartum doula is a trained professional who extends physical, emotional, and informational support to mothers during the postpartum period. Beyond the essential newborn care, your role encompasses aiding a mother in achieving her feeding goals, embracing her unique parenting style, while prioritizing her rest and recovery. Through your dedication, you contribute to her overall well-being and foster a sense of confidence in her journey into motherhood. In 1969, American Medical Anthropologist, Dana Raphael coined the term "doula" to describe a woman outside the family who nurtures the new mother, facilitating successful breastfeeding. This historical context highlights the significance of your role in fostering a joyful and empowered motherhood experience.

Choosing the Right Training:
Your course should cover a wide range of topics, from lactation support to emotional well-being. Seek out a training program that aligns with your own mission and values, while considering factors such as the curriculum, the expertise of instructors, and the support offered post-training. Look for programs that prioritize inclusivity, cultural competence, and a commitment to empowering mothers. Seek training that emphasizes the importance of creating a supportive environment, promoting self-care, and building a strong bond between the doula and the mother.


"Mothering the Mother" Approach:

The concept of "mothering the mother" is at the core of effective postpartum doula care. It involves providing unwavering support to the mother as she navigates life with her new baby. Look for training programs that teach the skills and mindset needed to be a comforting presence for the new mother. By gaining a thorough grasp of postpartum challenges, staying up-to-date on infant feeding and sleep guidelines, and recognizing the significance of establishing connections with external resources and professionals, you can provide a well-rounded support system.

Empowering Through Breastfeeding Support: Breastfeeding is a crucial aspect of postpartum care. Choose a training program that dedicates time to breastfeeding education, offering practical guidance and solutions. Equipping yourself with the knowledge and skills to address common breastfeeding challenges will help you to better assist your clients.

Personalized and Comprehensive Support: A holistic approach to postpartum care involves tailoring your approach to meet the individual needs of each mother. A comprehensive understanding of postpartum issues allows you to offer well-rounded support.
Joining Live Training Opportunities:
To kickstart your journey as a postpartum doula, consider joining upcoming live training sessions. As a Newborn mother's graduate and affiliate, I fully recommend Julia's training course. Her live sessions provide a dynamic and interactive learning experience. Click here  if you are ready to embark on this fulfilling career path. *Live classes begin in February*

Ensuring an adequate milk supply


The beautiful journey of becoming a mother often comes with its own set of challenges, and for many breastfeeding moms, ensuring an optimal milk supply is a top priority. In this blog post, I'll share practical tips and strategies to help you maintain healthy milk production for your little one. 

Embrace Lots of Skin-to-Skin Contact

 The magic of skin-to-skin, a.k.a. Kangaroo Mother Care cannot be emphasized enough. This intimate connection with your baby not only strengthens your bond but also stimulates milk production. Spending quality time holding your baby skin-to-skin helps trigger the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for your milk ejection reflex. So, cuddle up with your little one as much as possible. 

Stay Hydrated

Proper hydration is key to overall health and also plays a crucial role in breastfeeding. It's important to drink enough water throughout the day to support your body's functions, including milk production. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day and consider keeping a large water bottle with you, especially during those late-night feeding sessions.

 Nourish Your Body

CDC recommends 330 to 400 calories additional calories per day for well-nourished breastfeeding mothers. You should include a variety of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy. Foods known to boost milk supply include oats, black beans, avocados, and papaya, so consider incorporating them into your meals or snacks.

 Feed Frequently

 Frequent milk removal stimulates your body to increase production. Ensure that your baby is latched comfortably and that you are hearing sucking and swallowing. If you're concerned about your baby's latch or feeding patterns, don't hesitate to consult with a lactation specialist for guidance. Remember, the more your baby feeds, the more signals your body receives to make more milk. 

Build a Support System

Breastfeeding can be both physically and emotionally demanding, so having a strong support system is imperative. Surround yourself with people who understand and encourage your breastfeeding goals. This could include your partner, family members, friends, pediatrician, doula, or a lactation consultant. A supportive environment can significantly reduce stress and positively impact your milk supply.

 Be Patient

 Patience is key as you navigate the ups and downs of breastfeeding. It takes time for your body to establish and regulate milk production. Understand that there may be challenges along the way, but with perseverance and the right support, you can overcome them. Trust the process of your unique breastfeeding experience and give yourself grace. Any amount of breastmilk is an amazing gift for your baby-you are doing a great job!


If you are looking for support during your breastfeeding journey, I'd love to schedule a free 15-minute consult.  Click here to view my calendar.

So what's the deal with postpartum doulas?



    After nine wonderful years as a postpartum doula, the question, "A postpartum doula, what’s that?" still echoes in my ears. It's a journey filled with heartwarming moments, sleepless nights, and an unwavering commitment to supporting new moms. This blog isn't about tooting my own horn; as I hope to demystify the role of postpartum doulas for those who may not have encountered this invaluable resource yet.


 A Night in the Life of an Overnight Postpartum Doula

 Picture this: I arrive at the homes of usually very sleepy parents, ready to embark on a night of care and support. We have conversations about their baby, nightly routines, and feeding habits. Together, we plan the night—deciding whether the baby will be bottle-fed by me or nursed by mom and I offer to tackle tasks like folding baby laundry, sterilizing bottles, or preparing snacks for the tired mother.


 Adaptability is key; I set up wherever the parents feel most comfortable, be it the nursery, living area, or a guest room. As the parents retreat to bed, I step into the role of caregiver, ensuring a smooth night for the baby. A detailed log capturing wake-up times, feeds, and diaper changes is kept throughout the night, and in the morning, after a debriefing session, I send mom a text with my notes.


 Educational Support and Resources 

Beyond the practical assistance during the night, my role extends to providing resources and evidence-based education on newborn care, sleep, and breastfeeding. I become a listening ear, offering moms a safe space to process their birth story and discuss any concerns about their new role. Utilizing my expertise as a Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, I assist mothers in navigating challenges, providing support to help them reach their breastfeeding goals.


 Building a Network of Support 

Over the years, I've cultivated an expansive referral network. When faced with situations beyond my scope, I happily connect my clients with other professionals who can provide the specialized assistance they need. Additionally, I love lending out books on various topics like infant sleep and breastfeeding, creating a comprehensive support system for new parents.


 In short, a postpartum doula is more than a caregiver; many refer to us as "professional baby whisperers"  It's not just about the baby; It's about creating a cocoon of support, knowledge, and empathy during those critical early days of parenthood.  


Postnatal support across the pond..

Last year, I had the pleasure of connecting with Vickie Bowles, a UK baby nurse and founder of The Baby Academy, on LinkedIn. Our shared perspective on sleep training led us to a Zoom call and the idea of co-writing a blog post on postnatal support in the first ten days at home for new parents in the UK and US.



 

In the UK and US, postnatal support can vary greatly, but there are some common themes when it comes to providing support to new parents in the first ten days at home. Here are five top tips for postnatal support:

 

Take care of yourself: While it's easy to focus all of your attention on the baby, it's so important to remember to take care of yourself too. Make sure you're getting enough rest, nourishment, and support. This may mean asking for help with household chores or getting some additional support from friends or family.

 

Get to know your baby: Each baby is different and has their own unique needs. Take the time to bond with your baby and learn their cues and patterns. This will help you provide the best care and support for them.

 

Seek out support: Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. This may mean reaching out to friends and family, hiring a postpartum doula, or seeking support from a local parenting group.

 

Seek medical attention if needed: If you have any concerns about your baby's health or well-being, don't hesitate to seek medical attention. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

 

Take breaks: It's important to take breaks and give yourself some time to recharge. Ask for help when you need it and take breaks when you can. Bringing home and caring for your new baby can be an overwhelming experience.

 

Overall, the key to postnatal support in the first ten days at home is to prioritize the well-being of both the baby and the parents. Make sure to take care of yourself and seek out support when you need it and accept help when it is offered. By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to a smooth transition into parenthood.


Vickie's perspective..


It was a pleasure to connect with Katelyn Newby a Postpartum Doula, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist and mum of one from Houston in Texas.  We both realized very quickly that we share an understanding on the importance of looking after women postnatally as well as their babies during the early days after hospital discharge. In my experience one of the biggest issues for new mothers is feeling confident to look after their precious newborn.


The importance of bonding with your baby…. The 3 C’s


*Comfort – Lots of cuddles and kisses

*Contact – Skin-to-skin

*Communication – Hearing your voice and eye contact 



Feel confident as a new mum……


*Believe in yourself

*Be kind to yourself

*Look after yourself



Once fully recovered, getting out and about with your new baby….


*Explore the world together

*Make new friends

*Promoting positive well-being


*Remember it’s always ok to ask for help… Sometimes you just need to talk, and you need someone to listen.






Navigating my path to becoming a Postpartum Doula: My personal experience

When I graduated high school, I thought I had my future mapped out. I had always been fascinated by the beauty of pregnancy and believed that becoming an Ultrasound Technician would be the perfect career for me. However, as I began my studies to become a Medical Assistant, I discovered my true passion for patient care and nursing. I had chosen the medical assisting program as a steppingstone to a sonography career, but it ended up being the starting point for a new journey. 

 

After completing my program, I gave birth to my baby girl and made the decision to put my career on hold to focus on being the best mother I could be. I took on a live-in nanny position while my husband was stationed overseas, and it was an incredible experience to be able to care for children while also spending time with my own baby. This experience reinforced my desire to help others and solidified my decision to become a postpartum doula. 

 

                                                                
                                                  Photo by  Jenna Norman 


The word "doula" comes from ancient Greek, meaning "a woman who serves". As a postpartum doula, my role is to provide emotional and physical support to new mothers during the fourth trimester, or the first few months after birth. It is such a fulfilling career, and I can confidently say that I have found my calling. 

 

For anyone interested in becoming a postpartum doula, the journey may look different for everyone. But for anyone who wants a rewarding career and feels their passion is to serve, this may be the job for you. A good starting point is to research different postpartum doula trainings and compare the core values and mission statements of each program. It's important to feel aligned with the person who will be training you. 

 

Personally, I had already had several years of infant care experience when I discovered this line of work, but it was actually four years that I had been working as a doula before I sought out formal training. The role of a postpartum doula is not only to care for the baby, but also to be a support and guide for the new mother during the postpartum period. This requires a deep understanding of the importance of "mothering" the new mother.

I found my training through the Newborn Mothers Collective, and Julia Jones' approach to postpartum care immediately caught my eye. Her dedication to helping women navigate the fourth trimester, as well as her outlook on the postpartum period, aligned with my own passion. Her statement "When a baby is born, so is a mother" sealed the deal for me, and I knew I had to enroll in her program. I was especially intrigued by how she dived into postpartum traditions from all over the world and her desire to change the postpartum care paradigm. 

 

As far as infant care goes, it's important for postpartum doulas to educate themselves on newborn care, be up to date of safe sleep practices and always have a growth mindset. It's also helpful to read a breastfeeding book if you've never had your own experience breastfeeding. 

For anyone considering a career as a postpartum doula, I highly recommend checking out the Newborn Mothers training. As an affiliate, I can personally attest to the quality of the training and the proficiency of the instructor, Julia. I have truly enjoyed my experience and appreciate the continued support I've received from her.


Seeking the support of an experienced postpartum doula and lactation specialist? I'd be happy to set up a complimentary call for you here.



Navigating the 'new normal' of motherhood with virtual postpartum doula services

Hey there, new mama! Are you in need of some support after your baby is born, but not interested in having someone physically present in your home? Virtual postpartum doula support might be the perfect solution for you.




Postpartum doulas provide support in the first weeks after birth. They provide informational support about feeding and caring for the baby. As a postpartum doula and certified breastfeeding specialist, I am able to provide non-judgmental support, a listening ear, and a sounding board to new parents as they navigate the challenges of parenthood. I can offer support and guidance on a variety of topics related to caring for a newborn, including soothing techniques, sleep routines, breastfeeding and pumping. I am also able to troubleshoot pumping issues, teach paced-feeding methods to assist with transitioning from bottle to breast, and help mothers size themselves for their flange to make the process of pumping comfortable and more efficient.

Through phone calls and video chats, I can provide the same level of support as an in-person doula, but without invading your space or disrupting your home life. I am here to support you as you adjust to your new role and can also refer you to other professionals or resources if needed.

Virtual postpartum doula support is a great option for new parents who want the support of a doula but prefer not to have someone physically present in their home. If you're interested in this type of support, I encourage you to reach out and schedule a consultation. With the right support, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the challenges of parenthood with confidence.




If you are interested in getting virtual support, click here!