You’re home from the hospital 24 hours with your new bundle of joy. Life is supposed to be perfect now; you have your dream of your ideal baby. But the reality is an overflowing laundry basket, dirty dishes piling up, no food in the house to cook, and a baby that keeps the 2 of you in a perpetual state of exhaustion, with no time to do even the basics of both an uninterrupted shower, and brushing your teeth, you must decide which one is more important.
Who do you turn to when family is not available? Try a post partum doula. Doula, what’s that you ask: Loosely translated from Greek, a female caretaker, traditionally to help with the transition to being an organized family.
It’s 48 hours later, your doula has put in 2 shifts of 12 hours, the baby’s room is finally organized, baby laundry is done and all is put away, including the baby shower gifts. You wake up from your nap, shower and brush your teeth, she hands you Junior to nurse, and assists with the latch in football hold. When done she coaches you on swaddling him. Great smells are coming from the crock pot, there is food in the refrigerator; the kitchen is tidy, no great stacks of dishes anymore. She reminds you about nutrition and breastfeeding, and checks your food preferences, as she hands you another glass of water. She asks about planning the next few days, baby bath time, using your sling for a quick walk in the fresh air, reviewing age appropriate toys.
The doulas’ goal is to work herself out of a job, by helping and teaching you to coordinate your essential home activities, incorporating your newborn into your new daily routines. The certified postpartum doula with her training also knows infant CPR. She won’t lay any guilt trips on you, but give you emotional support to being the parent you want to be.
Where do doulas come from? How do they get their experience? Most are experienced mothers, learning this is a way to put to use those talents they learned rearing their own brood. Some are experienced nannies, expanding their capabilities to include the very newborn baby. Some are nurses, tired of the stress of hospital work, where they can be assigned 4 families a shift to care for. Others can be single, without family commitments, but have found by being from a large family they have an affinity for helping others in this way. Each post partum doula has unique abilities; no 2 will be exactly alike. Some insurance will now reimburse for them. It will take work on your part to investigate your benefits. Ask the doula for the insurance code.
How do you find the doula? Many have listing in parenting magazines; at times the bulletin board at the library or grocery store may have some .Some websites: DONA.org, BINIbirth.com: DASC (Doula Association of Southern Calif) http://www.dascdoulas.org, and other websites can be another resource. Costs vary depending on the doula’s background and experience, from $20 – $45 per hour. You may need to interview several to find the one right for you. The most experienced doulas are booked early, so plan your interviews at least 2 months before your due date, but some also have last minute cancellations. Most will ask for payment up front, and have you submit a receipt to your insurance for reimbursement.
Do a group of you want to give a unique baby shower gift? How about service for a post partum doula for a week?