From Baths and Diapers to Conversation and Infant Feeding - How Doulas (and other perinatal professionals) Support Families Across the Early Postpartum Days
This blog post is written by Kate Sissons. Kate is a Childbirth Educator, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Lactation Consultant, Infant Sleep Educator and Movement Expert, living in Toronto, with her 3 children. She provides care privately and through a pediatric clinic. She loves babies, movement, smoothies, green tea and sunshine.
I’ve worked with babies and new families for almost a decade, while also birthing and raising my own 3 children, within that time. Alongside my own personal experience as a new parent, I’ve seen births, new parenthood and infant feeding, unfold in such a myriad of ways.
Let me tell you - no matter who you are, or how many babies you’ve had before, the journey into parenthood is immense. It forces us to go to new places, on a physical, emotional and psychological level.
As perinatal educators and support people (childbirth educators, doulas, lactation consultants and infant sleep coaches), myself and my team, help families navigate this truly transformative time of new parenthood.
I am going to offer some insight into specific tasks and techniques that we offer families, below. While our support can be broken down into many tangible and measurable activities, there are some overarching themes that weave into every action we offer. Essentially, we are normalizing experiences, reassuring feelings, and nurturing the new family, so that they can forge ahead on their parenting journey with confidence.
Here’s what that might look like:
Navigate Information OverloadSourcing evidence based sources and drawing on our vast experiences working with families, we answer all the questions. From the best positions in labour, umbilical cord care and soothing techniques, spit up to nipple pain and damage, we are covering the gamut. Of course, anything that is beyond our scope is referred to a more suitable practitioner.
Tasks like laundry, chopping vegetables or making you a hot drink (like a delicious Boobie Latte!)
My goodness, is there always so much to do! Postpartum doulas are there to make sure new parents can rest and recover (this is essential in those early days!), as much as possible, by taking care of all the little tasks that need to be done.
Helping with diapers and baby baths.
So many new parents worry about diapers. Trust me this is a skill that will be mastered very quickly, as the number of diaper changes you’ll be doing becomes up to 10+ a day. However, we are there to normalize and help parents understand the normal amounts and colours of poo - yes you will become excited to see the changes and likely hooray and congratulate your baby on their bowel movements.
We’re also there with tips on baby’s bathing, which is understandably an area which worries parents - a slippery, tiny newborn in water feels more frightening than a lion’s mouth. We offer parents guidance on when and how often to bathe a baby, demoing and supporting them with the first bath, and offering a range of tricks on how to make it a more easeful experience.
Talking to you about your birth.
The birthing day is a huge event that often gets pushed to the side - the tiny new human usually steals the limelight! However, there is so much value in delving into the birth story. Speaking the experience and processing the elements, can help pave a good foundation for the postpartum period - including bonding with your baby and improving your postpartum mental health.
Talking to you about the transition to parenthood.
Prior to become parents, many of us (hi!) have set expectations of how our parenting journey will unfold - and many times this is unrealistic. We are there to act as gentle guides, offering sprinklings of reality checks and tips, prior to and during the postpartum period.
Helping you feed your baby.
Feeding babies happens in many different ways. Doulas and lactation consultants support families with all possible infant feeding methods. We help latch babies to breasts, optimize bottle feeding and pumping, and help remedy any nipple or breast pain.
Help you get sleep.
Our infant sleep coaches educate on normal infant sleep and will provide tweaks to maximize your sleep. We are also there in person, as postpartum doulas, to hold your baby while you sleep - both days and night support are options.
We also do SO MUCH MORE! We help families with babywearing, sourcing key baby items, deciphering terminology, normalizing baby skin (it does weird things post birth!) and newborn breathing (it’s normal for them to sound like barn animals and take short pauses), and we help connect people with relevant care providers, to support their parenting journey further. The breadth of our support is vast.
Of course, doulas and educators support families to PREPARE for postpartum, prenatally too. Getting solid education from a doula or childbirth educator and/or lactation consultant, before your baby arrives, can really set families up well.
There is no single family that doesn’t benefit from pre or postpartum support, in some capacity - you’ve heard it before and I won’t hesitate to repeat it here - It Takes a Village.
If you’d like to learn more about our support, and you’re in the Toronto area, you can visit www.katesissons.com. I am more than happy to hear about your needs and fill you in further on our service options.
If you are outside the Toronto area, ask your friends and care providers about their doula and lactation consultant recommendations - referrals are a great way to find a good fit doula. Of course, search engines do a good job of it too!