A potential postpartum client who was interviewing me this past week asked an important question: "Why did you choose to start supporting families, and why do you continue to do so?" It's difficult for me to put into words why I do this work- there are innumerable reasons, and doula work is a calling-but the best answer is because I believe postpartum support is IMPORTANT, especially in the United States!
We live in a country with one of the most abysmal maternal mortality rates among developed nations, and where an estimated 1 in 3 women experience a traumatic birth. American mothers often receive no follow-up care for SIX WEEKS after birth- and even then, postpartum "care" is just an opportunity to receive the green light for sex and a birth control prescription. Women who desire to breastfeed are often unable to do so because their pediatricians are unable to offer comprehensive lactation support and instead send them home with bags of formula. Many women in the United States are not given the opportunity to bond with their babies or to begin a breastfeeding relationship because they are expected back at work within mere days or weeks of giving birth. Additionally, while maternity leave policies are absolutely awful in the majority of states, many fathers have absolutely no access to paternity leave, which means that women across the country are left at home with a newborn and no support system. Thousands of American women suffer from postpartum depression each year, and is it any wonder why?
Postpartum support is revolutionary because it pushes back against the idea that our healthcare system is acceptable. It isn't! In cultures all around the world, women are held and nourished by their communities after welcoming a baby. American women and families often receive no such support EXCEPT FROM A POSTPARTUM DOULA!
From the outside, postpartum support looks like cooking, cleaning, laundry, lactation support, and infant care education. Postpartum support is much more than this. Postpartum doulas may only be able to work with a few families at a time, but our work is so important because it challenges the societal norms that we have in place. In a country where women are encouraged to get back to work and to "bounce back" physically after a birth, we encourage women to rest, nourish themselves, and bond with their babies. In a society where doctors are often perceived as infallible and absolute experts, we encourage mothers to lean into their intuition, listen to their inner voice, and care for themselves and their babies in whichever way speaks to them. Women are the experts of their own babies and bodies! Postpartum doulas also keep an eye out for health issues in both the mother and infant that may otherwise go unnoticed. We postpartum doulas recognize that the time immediately following birth is a time of sacred transformation and calls for sensitivity, warmth, and encouragement. In short, postpartum support fills critical gaps left by the American healthcare system and society in general.
Postpartum work is so important! I am a postpartum doula because I believe in the power of this work. Postpartum doula support is a public health service and maternal and infant health in this country is positively impacted by birth doulas, postpartum doulas, IBCLCs, and other birth-adjacent professionals who are striving to change the system!
Are you interested in working with a postpartum doula? Send us an inquiry! We'd love to discuss how working with a postpartum doula may benefit your family.