Postpartum Doula Support
Imagine what it would be like to become a new parent in a time, place, or culture where newborn babies and parents receive constant support and care from their local village or community.
The Village and Postpartum Care
Many modern Canadian families don’t have access to a village of knowledgeable, experienced support people. Parents and extended family or friends may live too far away, or have work or other obligations that prevent them from providing the type of support a new family needs to find a balance with new identities and routines.
Our western industrialized culture has forgotten how new families were supported in the past.
Many of our parents had their children away from their families, so the concept and practical aspects of supporting new families can not be remembered. Family sizes have also significantly decreased, and continue to do so, so there are just fewer people around to support each other.
The modern expectation for visiting a new family during the postpartum weeks and months looks something like holding and admiring the new baby, bringing gifts of incredibly small and cute clothing, and perhaps bringing some muffins or cupcakes to share over tea. Conversation becomes centered around the baby. While this is all well intentioned, and can at times be helpful and enjoyable for the new parents, it can fall short of meeting the real needs of new families.
It's important not to overlook the practical needs of new families. The daily challenges of new parenthood can have an impact on health outcomes for the whole family. In Canada, 80% of birthing parents experience the “baby blues,” 15-25% of new parents (both parents!) experience postpartum depression, and 80% of new parents report feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Nearly 70% of families may not achieve their breastfeeding goals. We should be able to do better than this!
If birth is the wedding, postpartum is the marriage…
When newborn parents have professionally trained non-judgemental postpartum doula support and can focus on caring for themselves and their infant, they experience better outcomes. Studies have shown that professional postpartum doula support can help new parents to achieve:
- Greater success in achieving breastfeeding goals
- Greater self-confidence
- Less postpartum depression
- Timely referrals to competent, appropriate professionals and support groups
- Education on what to expect from a newborn
- Baby soothing skills
- Bonding and attachment skills
- Coping skills
- Support for the birth partner
- Other helpers can benefit from concrete instruction and role modeling on how to support a family during the weeks after birth.
The quality of your postpartum weeks and months can deeply affect your relationships with your child(ren), partner, and your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Investing in postpartum doula support can transform your experience!
Hi! My name is Kisti Thomas-Ring and I am a Maternal Support Practitioner…
In addition to being a professionally trained Birth and Postpartum Doula I have also attained credentials as a Breastfeeding Educator and Infant Sleep Educator, so when you hire me for postpartum support I inevitably bring this knowledge and perspective with me to our visits.
In September 2015 I brought my son into the world. As many first time parents do, I didn’t spend too much time thinking about what would happen after the baby arrived. I had written a postpartum plan of local supports and resources, I had stocked my cupboard with some extra meals, and I tried to have as few plans and expectations as possible. But I had no idea what was about to happen.
In those first few weeks of his life things were hard. We were so tired, emotional, and concerned with caring for our son that I let everything else, including self care, slide. I felt like I needed to have everything perfect and organised before someone could come over. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable asking guests to help. I wasn’t sure what was normal and what wasn’t when it came to caring for my son, or if he was getting enough milk.
I learned several things from my postpartum experience. Having frequent pre-scheduled in home visits with a postpartum professional in the first weeks of my son's life was very helpful establishing our breastfeeding relationship and finding as much comfort as possible in my physical recovery. It was also really helpful to have someone who understood what I was going through but who had more emotional distance than family members did to talk to about the emotional adjustments and transitions our family was going through. Finally, preparing as much as possible in advance, and keeping our expectations for what we could accomplish as minimal as possible helped our family to focus on taking care of ourselves and learning how to care for our new baby.
This is why it’s so important to have a plan in place before the baby arrives, and have someone coming to check in and follow up with your family during the postpartum months.
I don’t think it’s possible to really understand what new parenthood is like until you’ve been through it. Even if you’re not a first time parent, no two babies, pregnancies, births, or postpartum experiences are the same. You can get countless pieces of wisdom and advice from friends, family, and strangers (solicited and unsolicited), but it’s impossible to know what challenges your new family will face after your birth experience and as you move into new parenthood.
What to expect from a postpartum support visit:
When we schedule your home visit(s) we will identify what your key concerns or goals are for the moment so that I can better support you in achieving them. At our first visit I’d like to hear your birth story, if you are ready to share. What happens during birth can often impact or determine what unique challenges or concerns may be coming up for you and your baby. At each appointment I’d like to touch base with you about how things are going with your postpartum recovery, family adjustments, etc. What do you need right now? What are the biggest challenges today? How are you doing at achieving your goals? What could tweak or adjust to help you achieve them? We can always fold some laundry together, or I can prep a meal or snack while we have this chat. From there most appointments are tailored to the needs of the family I’m supporting. Examples of what that can happen during a postpartum visit include:
- Caring for the baby while you have one on one time with older children (or vice versa), take a shower, eat or prepare a meal, check email, accomplish things around the home, or for the parent(s) to eat an uninterrupted hot meal together, etc.
- Breastfeeding support and local resources
- Identify family sleep goals and create a short plan to implement
- Meal/snack preparation
- Discuss emotional adjustments, coping strategies, and local resources for postpartum depression and anxiety
- Discuss newborn care concerns (what is normal and what might not be)
- Home organisation help – how to set up breastfeeding nooks, and changing and bathing stations to simplify caring for your newborn and make your spaces as comfortable and functional as possible.
- Infant soothing methods & strategies
- Physical recovery support for the birthing parent (tips, tricks, resources)
- Time for the parent(s) to do some self care with the reassurance that a trained professional can care for their child(ren) while they’re busy.
- Timely referrals to local resources, support, and other postpartum professionals (as needed)
- Help with babywearing and learning to use whatever wraps or carriers you have on hand
- Recipes and information on traditional foods fed to newborn parents, if interested.
- Postpartum belly wrapping for comfort and support (not for 'bouncing back!'), if interested.
- Baby massage lesson (you massage your baby)
- Information on why oxytocin (the 'falling in love' hormone) is so important for recovery, breastfeeding success, and emotional support. We can create an oxytocin boosting postpartum plan together to help you transition together as a newborn family as smoothly as possible.
- ***If you have booked a service package additional supports are included.
My Welcome Home Postpartum Doula package includes:
- Includes 12 hours of support
- Phone consults prior to each visit to identify your concerns and goals
- Information sheets and local resources and referrals tailored to your families’ needs
- PegCityDoula postpartum comfort gift
Custom packages and payment plans can be created to fit your needs. Please contact me to inquire about registries, shower gifts, or other care plans.
Yes! I want to find support in my postpartum transition and greater wellness for my family!