Help in that all important “Fourth Trimester”
Your baby is here! Those 40-odd weeks of dreaming and planning have finally come to fruition and in your arms is a beautiful baby. Now what? Sometimes, coming home and settling into a routine can be a challenge. Amongst the joy, you are struggling with hormones, sleeplessness and anxiety. Managing a new baby is like nothing you have ever done before, and all the reading in the world can’t properly prepare you for the reality.
What is the Fourth Trimester?
The postpartum period is often referred to as the Fourth Trimester, and generally covers the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life. You have a new baby, your body is recovering from pregnancy and birth, and your hormones are on a roller coaster. It is a time of huge emotional and physical change.
In the past, mums, aunties and sisters have been around to help new mums. But these days we often live far away from our family, or they are busy working and can’t always take the time to help. When it is available, family ‘help’ often comes with its own brand of stress and anxiety. Often our partner takes time off, but that is not always possible, and if they work long hours this can mean you are home alone for long periods when your partner returns to work. This is where a Postpartum Doula can help.
What Does a Postpartum Doula Do?
A Postpartum Doula can help you with all the physical, emotional and practical aspects of becoming an awesome new mum, helping you get organised and feel confident in your new role. A doula will help with:
Nutrition – the last thing you feel like doing is cooking! But good nutrition is important for your own health, and milk production. A doula will ensure you have nutritious home cooked meals to help you get through the days and weeks ahead.
Rest – someone to look out for your baby, and maybe get a few light chores done around the house, while you are sleeping is invaluable.
Partner – sometimes our partner struggles in the fourth trimester. They want to help, but often aren’t sure how, and they will be feeling the same anxiety as mum. The reassurance of a calm, knowledgeable professional can set some of those anxieties to rest.
Siblings – if this is not your first baby, your older children will have a lot of adjusting to do. You need to spend time with your baby, but you need to spend time with your other children too. A doula can help managing those competing demands by taking care of your baby for a while so you have uninterrupted time with your older children, or entertain your older children while you feed and settle baby.
Family and friends – some mums find one of the must frustrating things to manage in the fourth trimester is the well-meaning family and friends who ‘drop in’ to see the baby or ‘give you a hand’. A doula can help you manage these drop-ins and ensure you get the rest – and the help – you need.
Advice – sometimes it is hard for new parents to recognise the difference between what may be normal feelings and behaviour, and what might be a little more serious. A doula can help parents find expert help, whether it be with breastfeeding, anxiety or any other aspect of parenting a newborn.
And sometimes, all you need is a sympathetic ear and an extra pair of hands. A doula can do that too!
When Should I Find a Postpartum Doula?
The best time to look for a Postpartum Doula is while you are pregnant. Many Birth Doulas also provide Postpartum services, so if you are thinking of having a doula at your birth you might like to think about finding one that offers postpartum services as well.
Making a postpartum plan while you are still pregnant is so much easier than waiting until the baby is born and you are tired and hormonal. It will help make sure you are thinking clearly about what you want, and it will allow you to talk to your family and friends so that they are aware of how you want to manage the postpartum period. That said, it is never too late to call on a doula for help.
Making a plan with a doula will also give you the confidence that you really are prepared for what is to come. Things like meal planning, allocating chores, managing family members as well as providing informed, evidence-based advice on things like breast feeding, settling and routines are what a doula is trained to do.
Of course, the best laid plans sometimes go awry, so you need to remain flexible if need be, and a doula can help you revise your plans to make them work for you in your new normal.
Grieving and Postpartum Doulas
Sometimes the unthinkable happens and a healthy happy baby is not the outcome. Whether it be miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, a doula can help you in this most heartbreaking of times. An understanding ear, a hot meal, or a simply someone to hold you up when you need it are all part of a doula’s service.
If you think including a Postpartum Doula in your parenting team might be something you are interested in, please get in touch. I would love to chat: