I often get a lot of confused faces when I tell people that I am a postpartum doula. It is indeed hard to explain as my work is so varying and differs from one client to another. I worked with a wonderful Mama recently, however, and it was one of those days when I had that "I love my job!" feeling and I thought I would share it here so that you Mamas and Mamas-to-be could get a better idea of what we postpartum doulas can do to help you!
Here is a day in the life of a postpartum doula:
8:30am - I arrive just as Daddy is off to bring their 3-year old to Kindergarten. He has to head into the office that day for a few hours leaving Mama alone with the new baby for the first time. They all are putting on smiling faces but I can see that they have had a rough night.
I see a load of baby's laundry on the floor so I toss it into wash, make some tea and muesli for Mama and bring it to her as she has a sleeping baby in her arms. We chat about the night and how things have been going. I was right - it has been a tough few days. Mama had a difficult birth and is still quite sore and their older daughter has been going through a sleep regression which has been keeping both parents up throughout the night. Breastfeeding has been difficult as Mama's nipples are sore and cracking. She doesn't remember it being this hard with her older daughter.
9am - At Mama's request, I run an herbal bath for her and baby to take together. The soothing herbs will help her heal and the bath will calm her and baby down. She nurses baby in the bath and I have a chance to observe. A few little positioning and latch adjustments and Mama sighs a huge sigh of relief! No more pain!
I help her in and out of the bath (not an easy feat to do alone with a slippery wet baby!) and put a fresh diaper and pyjamas on baby while Mama crawls into bed for some rest. I put baby in the wrap I see in the living room and get to work.
11am - Baby has been asleep for about an hour in the baby wrap while I have put baby's laundry to dry, prepped a healthy family dinner for them to enjoy later. Baby is beginning to stir so I bring him along with a large glass of water and avocado toast to Mama who is just waking up well rested and ready to give baby another feed. I watch as she follows the new positioning gets a good latch from baby with a little help from me.
11:30am - I change baby's diaper while Mama finishes her avocado toast and freshens up after her nap. She is thrilled to walk into the kitchen and see the laundry running, dishes done and dinner prepped!
11:45am - Mama was thrilled to see that I had used the baby wrap to carry baby as she did not know how to tie the monster piece of fabric around her and baby. I show her a few ways to tie it and how to adjust it as baby gets older.
12:30pm - Baby is tired but is struggling to go to sleep. His screaming is stressing out Mama who is trying to put him down to sleep in his bassinet instead of in her arms. I take baby and soothe his screams while Mama calms down. We work on some soothing techniques, stick him in a swaddle and I guide her through soothing him to sleep until he is fast asleep in his bassinet.
Mama and I chat about why baby might have had such a hard time settling and a few tactics on calming baby when he is like that as well as how to avoid them in the future. Over a nice cup of tea we then chat about her older daughter's sleep issues and some possible ways to manage them over a healthy lunch we prepared. We talk about what might be the root causes of the regression and how to remedy the habits that her and her husband have fallen into out of sheer desperation and exhaustion.
1:30pm - Baby is awake again and hungry. I watch as Mama brings him to nurse successfully without any intervention from me! She is so proud and I see her face light up with joy and relief.
I make us a nice lunch while Mama nurses.
2pm - Baby quickly doses off to sleep on Mama. We eat lunch and I fold baby's laundry from the dryer.
2:30pm - Daddy walks through the door to find a relaxed Mama on the couch with a snack watching Netflix, a clean house, dinner prepped and a napping baby. He comments on how his wife looks like a completely different person than this morning. I have a quick chat with him about how he is doing and Mama suggests that he take a quick nap before they all head off to pick up their daughter from Kindergarten.
3pm - my day is done and I leave a well-rested, well-fed happy little family!