Interview With A Postpartum Doula

~ reposted from The New Age Parents article

Motherhood is a major life transition and the adjustment period feels less overwhelming when doulas are available to answer questions or concerns. We have an interview withPamela Lim, Postpartum Doula and the founder of The Birthshop in Singapore. Read more into the interview to understand how a Postpartum Doula can be a great assistance to new mummies and their families.

1. What is a Postpartum Doula?

A postpartum doula is a non-judgmental woman with a quiet presence in your home. The main focus is in helping the new mother after the birth of the baby. Each family’s needs are different, thus the services provided by your doula will vary to accommodate your family in the best possible manner.

A postpartum doula provides loving support so that the new mother feels well nourished, well rested, with her household in good order so that she can focus her energy on her new baby. Mothers and Fathers appreciate the support of other women. In today’s society, our extended family members are not always available to help, and even if they are, some of them do not have the breastfeeding experience to support a new breastfeeding mom.

Postpartum Doulas work is between 2-6 hours per day, several days a week or 5 days a week meeting the unique needs of each family.

Potentially every woman, whether trained or not, can support another woman during thepostnatal period. How well she does this depends on her personal maturity, knowledge and her unique view of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. The main tool a Doula has is herself! Before, during and after the birth it is first and foremost a Doula’s presence that should make the new mother feel safe. Whilst we recognise that to be a Doula, it may be easier for those who have the experience of giving birth, breastfeeding and bring up children.

2. How do you support the family during the Postpartum Doulas work period?

The doula role, we believe, is a way of “being” not “doing“. A “training” implies completion and it is not useful to believe that a woman can attend a two or three day workshop or training course and believe that she is a Doula. Doulas are learners, they are explorers, they are guides, friends, sharers, it goes on and on. Without an open approach to self development and human growth it is impossible to be available to enable others. Within aDoula’s education there must be a deep concentration and focus on self awareness and any woman entering the profession is required to spend a lot of time reflecting.

The Doula’s role has often been described as “mothering the mother“. The doula is employed primarily by the woman to listen, support and respond to her needs. The Doula is not there to replace or exclude the father, partner or other family members or to intrude on these relationships. The Doula’s actions are never driven by her ego but by sensitivity andunconditional love.

Doulas do not give any medical advice but they should have a good understanding of the physiology of birth and the postnatal period so can provide support to help the woman find solutions when she needs guidance. This distinction between advice and support is important.

As a certified professional, I aim to empower, connect and advocate for families in the childbearing years.

My aim is to:

  • Encourage bonding and establish realistic expectations for parents.
  • Provide all parents with information about their options during pregnancy, labour & birth, and the postpartum period.
  • Encourage and support breastfeeding, but recognize that it is an individual decision.

As a Certified Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counsellor and Professional Family Life Counselor, I pride myself on my flexibility in the various scope of work which I administer with each family:

  • Nutritional knowledge
  • Breastfeeding Support
  • Evidence based knowledge on Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing
  • General newborn care including baby bath
  • Baby Bonding with a sling
  • Professional counseling and resources for new family
  • Postpartum body care for mom
  • Support mom through emotional vulnerability
  • Support dad through the transition to his new role
  • Grief counseling

Studies has shown that when the mother is cared for by someone after the birth of her child, for a few days or weeks, and has the concern to only nurture herself and the baby, she is more self-confident, can better adjust to the newborn, and she tends to be more successful in breastfeeding.

There were times when parents of newborns could count on their own parents and family members to assist them during the transitioning period after the birth. However, nowadays with the fast pace of our society it is almost impossible for the new parents to find the help within their family and friends.

A postpartum doula is a trained professional who will provide emotional, physical and educational supportwhile assisting parents to care for the new born on their own.

Some of the services Postpartum doulas offer are:

  • Routine newborn care and education in bathing, cord care, diapering, calming techniques, and newborn nutrition and development.
  • Breastfeeding assistance. during the Postpartum Doulas work period

3. What is your philosophy on breast-feeding and how do you help with breast feeding concerns/problems?

Supporting moms who want to breastfeed is an essential part of postpartum support. It is essential for new moms to know how to get started with breastfeeding, no matter what birth experience she had. My role as a counselor is to have the knowledge to support breastfeeding. If there was a breastfeeding problem (something which need more than just support and advise), I would usually refer my clients to a IBCLC-lactation consultant.

4. How do you manage your online business The Birthshop and your role as a postpartum doula?

Both works out pretty well. It’s just that the day and night gets longer! I do most of my postpartum doula home visits during the weekdays,coming home during mid-day and evenings to cook dinner and settle my 3 kids at home. I will start working on the online bizand admin work during the night when the kids are all asleep!

5. What are some of the advice you can give to our mom-to-be or new mothers?

Be mentally prepared for what comes after the birth of your baby. Sometimes, no amount of reading and knowledge can prepare a new mother for the experience of a new baby and it can be quite overwhelming but having a postpartum doula support can be really helpful and reassuring to a new mom.