Guest post by Melissa J.
I’m a new mom and all I want this holiday season is a break. When I had my son 5 weeks ago, I didn’t get a postpartum doula because I thought between my husband and my mom I would have almost too much help. I was wrong. Recovering from childbirth has been rougher than I thought it would be and now I’m asking my friends and family to skip giving me gifts that will, I’ll admit, sit in my house for months before I find a place for them, and contribute toward postpartum care. It’s the best gift new parents can receive. Here’s why.
We’re Exhausted and Need Help
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 5 weeks, it’s that there’s nothing wrong to ask for help. My husband and I take shifts taking care of our son through the night. We each get around 4-5 hours sleep if we’re lucky. He’s had to go back to work so I take care of our baby the rest of the day. This means I’m the primary caregiver for at least 18 hours straight most days. I love my son, but I’m so damn tired.
When I try to sleep while he naps, my mind just races with anxious thoughts. I can’t sleep without knowing someone else is watching him. It will be such a relief to know that my postpartum doula, a trained professional in mama and baby care, can take care of him and I can take a nap for once.
Postpartum doulas also help with the chores I don’t have the energy to do, like laundry and grocery shopping. Also, they don’t just come during the day. Many do overnights, as well! My husband and I are seriously considering this. I’m breastfeeding, so I will still have to wake up to feed him, but the doula will take care of everything else. I’ll be free to dream of a time not long ago when I didn’t need hemorrhoid cream and Dermoplast to sit down comfortably.
The doula will even make us a simple, healthy breakfast in the morning and watch my son so I can actually sit and enjoy a cup of coffee! New moms – when was the last time you got to do that?!
Our family is giving us money toward a postpartum doula this holiday season and it’s the best gift for new parents like us. We’re so thankful.
Modern Moms is now offering e-gift cards toward postpartum doula care and Informed & Mindful childbirth education! Ask your friends and family to give you something you really need this holiday season – support, empowerment and knowledge.
Healing During Postpartum? It’s Not Always That Easy
The moment you’ve been waiting for has come and gone. Baby is here! You did it! Whether you went natural, had medical interventions or surgical birth (c-section), you delivered your sweet little one. Now it’s time to go home. Your care provider gives you “The Postpartum Speech” before you leave the hospital. Do this, not that. Don’t push yourself to do too much. If you do, your bleeding will come back or get worse. Take it easy. But here’s the catch – you have a new, tiny human being that depends on you or you and your partner 24/7.
Diapers need to be changed. Dishes washed. Laundry cleaned. When I brought my daughter home, I felt like the medical advice I was given was impossible to follow. Something constantly needed to be done. Take it easy? How? Please someone tell me.
I came home with a third degree tear (Yup. You read that right). Moving was so painful. Sitting was unbearable. Getting up, walking and standing were the worst. Whether you tore like me, didn’t tear at all, or had a c-section, birth is exhausting and recovery can be rough. All I wanted to do was lie perfectly still in bed with an ice diaper and a heating pad on my back and sleep for seven days straight. Alas, this wasn’t an option.
My Privilege & My Mistake
The most eye-opening part of this experience was that I had help. So many other moms don’t have others to rely on after bringing baby home. I had my husband and my mom even stayed with us for the first two weeks. With all this support, I didn’t think I would need a postpartum doula. I thought, “Of course I’ll be able to get rest. There will be three of us to take care of the baby. Why would I need anymore help?” The three of us took turns sleeping, bottle feeding, rocking baby and washing dishes. And yet I was on my feet way more than I should have been.
My body had been through something extreme. Researchers liken birth to completing a marathon or climbing Mount Everest. We were all taking care of the baby. There wasn’t much time to take care of me, too, though my family tried their best.
Learning to Balance
While getting rest to the extent I needed to heal more quickly was not going to happen, I realized not getting a postpartum doula was a mistake and that this process was going to take a lot more time. My bleeding would come back, I’d stay in bed for day. Bleed, rest, repeat. Bleed, rest, repeat. I had to learn my new limits for those first six weeks.
I needed to heal and take care of myself; I needed to take care of my baby. Those two things were in constant conflict of each other. I suppose this is one of the earliest lessons in motherhood – the need for balance. I’m still learning.
Sending love to all you mamas!