Have you heard of a postpartum doula? I’m sure that this service has been around for years, but when I had kids, I had never heard of it! And oh how I could have used one!
I found postpartum to be a difficult time – mostly – because I had SUCH a hard time breastfeeding both of my children (and, ultimately quit within the first weeks). I realize now how much help was available to me in the form of lactation consultants, as well as, postpartum doulas.
I’m thrilled to share Oklahoma City Doula & Postpartum Doula Kate Burns with you today! Yes, she is an amazing birth doula, but for today we’ll be talking all about the postpartum experience and her tips for a smooth transition to life with a new baby.
What is a postpartum doula and how do they differ from your services as a birth doula?
A postpartum doula is like your best friend who is coming over to help you do all the things you can’t (shouldn’t) do while you are healing from your birth.
A birth doula helps mothers during her pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
A postpartum doula can help be an emotional support system, helper around the house, and help take care of the entire family and the function of your home as you focus on healing your body and bonding with your baby. Every woman deserves one!
What inspired you to become a postpartum doula?
After I became a birth doula, a midwife in our community suggested that I try being a postpartum doula as well, so I went for it. I had two children at this point in time and 8 years of nannying under my belt. I took a CPR class to stay up to date on the essentials and read books on postpartum care and what the first 40 days need to look like for moms to thrive. It’s been an on-going education journey. But I fell in love with it. Birth still holds a very special place in my heart though!!
How do you personalize your services to meet the unique needs of each family?
I offer a wide range of care from helping meal prep, taking care of baby while you rest, light household chores like dishes and laundry, tending to other siblings, to being a source of calm and a friend for mama during her healing period. We are also a great resource for any recommendations, suggestions, and education for mom. Postpartum is a beautiful yet vulnerable time, and what I’ve found is that a mom who has 6 children, has 6 different births and 6 different postpartum periods. No two are alike. They are all so wonderfully different and unique. Each one carry a set of different challenges, new beginnings, where hope and healing happen. We send recommendations for chiropractors, pelvic floor specialists, IBCLC’s, OTs, therapists, and much more! We know “the best of the best” in each field!
What does a typical day look like when you’re working with a family?
It depends on if you are wanting daytime or night time care.
Day time care for instance, can look like I show up to your home, and cook you breakfast while you breastfeed your baby. While you eat, I baby wear baby, play with your other little children so that you can go shower and then rest. I bring baby to you for a feeding, or give baby a bottle when needed. I’ll fold a few loads of laundry, start and run the dish washer, make a grocery list for your husband, and meal prep for dinner in the crock pot so that you’re set for the rest of your day. I’ve had so many mamas tell me that having day time care truly positively impacted their postpartum journey and helped negate negative experiences like overwhelm. It is a nice part of the week to “look forward to.” Having an extra set of hands should be considered normal in our society, but sadly it is not as common in western culture to be the village mothers need, especially within the first 40 days as she physically heals.
Night time care, which is also called a night nurse, looks like taking care of the baby overnight with feeds, burping, diaper changes, rocking, cuddling and settling baby back into his or her safe sleep space. I wake with baby anywhere from 1-6 times a night. It really depends on the situation, baby, and each family!
What are some common emotional challenges faced by new parents, and how do you help them cope?
Breastfeeding is a huge one. To hold space for mom to feel it all, and to encourage her in the direction where her and her baby want to go long term, is exponentially important. Postpartum doulas can suggest other amazing expertise in this field of work, like postpartum therapy, pediatric dentists, chiropractors, IBCLCs, pelvic floor therapists, cranial sacral therapy, and so on.
Another challenge I see that is very common, is the challenge of navigating with multiple children and settling into a family of 4+. To have another set of hands and a heart to serve in this sacred time while a family finds their new rhythm is such a beautiful honor.
How do you handle situations where a new parent is struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety?
This is a really good question because everyone processes anxiety and depression differently. Some are very vocal and some are very inward. I am in no way a therapist, and will never replace that. I have lovingly suggested therapy to many moms. I am a bi-product of PPA and PPD, so I come from a personal place of understanding and want to help. I think the most important thing is to read the room so to speak. When you step into someone’s home, I use my maternal instincts and get a general idea if things are going well or not. Postpartum is a learning curve so there are a lot of anxieties that naturally come with that. Mental and emotional support during this time is vital. To share a smile, a warm hug, and be a safe place for her to process all she needs to, is everything. Ask a LOT of questions. I am one to “over communicate,” but truly asking questions to get to the root of a situation and find the “need” to help mom on her healing journey.
How do you help parents maintain a strong bond and open communication during the postpartum period?
I first lead by setting an example. When I come to each job, I always try to have open trustworthy conversations and communication. It’s important to me to model honesty and transparency. I think the more we show up as doulas and are humble and kind, we can create space for others to do so as well, like dads, siblings, grandparents, and so on. I truly believe even the small place we serve in this role, can start a ripple effect of healing for the ENTIRE family.
Practically speaking though, I have had some moms go on a date with their husband even if it were for 1-2 hours, within those first 3 months. It could even be some time chatting over a cup of coffee in your bedroom by yourselves while I help maintain the rest of the home so you can rest in each others presence. I know from experience that it can be easy to “get lost” in the parenthood, so to make time for yourselves and each other is so crucial to maintaining good mental health and the health of your marriage or relationship.
Thank you so much for this valuable information! Where can we find you?
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
My phone number is 405-637-1094
The postpartum period can be both incredibly rewarding and challenging, so having the support of a knowledgeable, compassionate professional can make all the difference.
So, go ahead and explore the world of postpartum doulas – you’ll be glad you did!