I teach a newborn care class at our local Babies R Us store every month. One of the few points that I mention while I am teaching, that has nothing to do with newborn care, is how a partner,a friend or a family member can support the new mother. My love for the work I do as a postpartum doula does not just come from being able to care for the newborn but it comes from caring for the mother for the most part. When a mother’s recovery is given a priority, the impact of that support goes a long way for the entire family. A mother who feels loved and supported can be a better mother and a better partner. The more I work in the postpartum world, the more I realize that for mothers in our country being independent and rugged is considered the norm. I strongly disagree with this practice.Having support from the partner, friend, family or a postpartum doula can prevent the challenges of future health issues whether they are physical or psychological. In this case, prevention is better than cure. The increase in incidence of postpartum mood disorders is a big red flag that tells us that something needs to change in the way we care for our mothers.
A partner can provide support, understanding, organization and patience for the mother who is recovering from birth. This also applies to partners who have the privilege of supporting adoptive or surrogate mothers. We need to remember that there is invisible healing that takes place along with external physical healing that all new mothers go through in the first 6 to 8 weeks postpartum. A new mother’s mind and body are as fragile as her new baby. A new mother needs to rest and digest,to keep the stress level down. A partner can bring her snacks and make her a plate of healthy food. A partner can remember to keep her water cup or bottle filled. A partner can bring her a cup of hot tea. A partner can hold the baby while the mother takes a shower or a nap. Did you know that a partner who believes in breastfeeding is a marker of how successful a new mother is going to be at breastfeeding? The faith and energetic support of the partner is vital for the new mother.
A friend who is planning a baby shower for the new mother can communicate with the people on the guest list about organizing for postpartum support. Some of the best gifts for a new mother are not toys or things for the baby. Instead, if a new mother gets postpartum doula hours, housekeeping service gift certificate, massages, meal deliveries or even a friend or family who can come and do laundry once a week, she will find that more helpful than any gift. Trust me, I know this because my clients have told me so! Instead of investing heavily in the care and relationship of the mother and baby, we are investing in fancy toys and decor for the baby.
Postpartum doulas can provide emotional and physical support to a new mother. They can also educate new parents and provide targeted breastfeeding support. 92% of new mothers report at least one breastfeeding concern three days postpartum. When a mother has the support of a postpartum doula she can be rest assured that her postpartum doula will try to find the best resources to help the mother if she cannot take care of it herself. When a partner needs extra sleep, a postpartum doula can make that happen too. Meal preparation, running errands, baby’s laundry, light housekeeping and newborn care are just a few things that are on a postpartum doula’s to-do list. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the most wonderful families who trust my knowledge and experience. I have only become more convinced about the value of the work I do as a postpartum doula.
Without good postpartum care practices, new mothers in the developed world will be “Failure to Thrive”.