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It’s no secret that postpartum support is overall lacking in our country. Birthing people are pushing themselves harder than ever, emotionally, physically, socially, and financially. The immense pressure to “bounce back” to your former pre-child state, as if you haven’t just undergone a massive transformation, is laid on heavily by modern society. We are bombarded with these messages everywhere we look; get back to work, be a good partner, keep your house clean, go out with your friends, be present for your loved ones, flatten those abs… and don’t forget to be a flawless parent.

In our childbirth & postpartum education class, Birthing & Babies, we spend a chunk of time speaking passionately about protecting your space, healing from birth, and being gentle with your postpartum self. We do this because we understand the feeling of putting your whole self into your new baby, and leaving yourself on the backburner. While you hold your new baby, who is holding you?

For these reasons, among others, more families than ever are hiring a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula is a professional support person for the time after you have a baby, and their primary goal is to help the family make a smooth adjustment. For some families, that means offering physical & emotional support to the mother, breastfeeding/feeding assistance, and newborn care and guidance (including evidence-based information on reading baby’s cues, infant sleep patterns, soothing techniques, bathing, etc.) For other families, it may look more like running errands and completing light household tasks (meal prep, tidying, baby laundry, feeding pets/short pet walks, etc.). Often, it’s a combination of all of the above! The doulas at Buffalo Doula Services also have extensive experience providing overnight care for newborns, allowing the parents a solid night of sleep. Studies have shown that women who have strong support during the postpartum period tend to experience fewer instances of postpartum depression and anxiety, breastfeed successfully and for a longer duration, and make a better adjustment to parenthood.

Our postpartum clients have sought out our services for various reasons. One client was seeking overnight care for the first 4 months of her baby’s life, as a full night of sleep would allow her to be the best parent she could be to her three children each day. Another was a single mother who was looking for support at home for the first few weeks, so she could recover from birth, and most appreciated us tidying up, doing laundry, and preparing meals. One client sought us out so she could run errands and work from home, as we primarily cared for the infant. Another was most grateful for our emotional support; active listening with a non-judgmental ear and holding space for her while she shared her deepest fears and concerns about motherhood.

A current postpartum client recently told us that her most favorite thing we do for her is fill her water bottles. This may sound simple and trivial, but to this new mom, it was everything. This client had a rough start with breastfeeding, and struggled to build her supply. We discussed possible issues and solutions, and came to the conclusion that she wasn’t drinking enough each day. From then on, each time we get to her house for a shift, we collect all of her water bottles, fill them, and put them in the refrigerator. She was thrilled the first time she saw what we’d done, and said that she hadn’t realized that having these bottles filled and cold would make such a difference in her water intake.

In a time when more extended families are living further apart, and as new mothers are besieged with images and messages of perfection, the role of a postpartum doula has become even more essential to the mental and physical health of parents with infants. We are with you, we see you, and we seek only to bring you comfort and rest. As you snuggle into your favorite chair with your new baby; let us bring you a hot cup of tea, a nourishing snack, and fetch your book, before we start cleaning up the kitchen and switch over the laundry. We’ll even fill your water bottles.

Author Jennifer Lombardo is a labor and postpartum doula, childbirth and newborn care educator, breastfeeding educator, and birth photographer. She is the owner of Buffalo Doula Services in Buffalo, NY.