Updated: Apr 9
Many people have never heard the term doula before when referring to birth companions, let alone a postpartum doula. What is a doula anyway? Is it all about the woo? Do I need to be into essential oils to be interested in a doula? Are postpartum doulas babysitters? Are they fancy housekeepers? What on earth is a postpartum doula, anyway?!
The short answer to those questions is no.
To be able to answer what a doula is, we need to understand what postpartum is. Postpartum is the time after giving birth when a woman's body and mind are adapting to the new life she created being on the outside. Postpartum is a time of healing, adapting, crying, smiling, and perhaps loving deeper than you imagined. 6 weeks or 40 days is the typical timeline box postpartum is placed in. This time may also be referred to as the Fourth Trimester which focuses on the fact that newborns still need the person they grew inside and were born from to be with them nearly constantly.
What are our needs during postpartum? Physical needs include stool softeners for that first week of postpartum poos, pads galore, plenty of rest, hydration, and lots more. Emotional needs are often overlooked.
In the excitement of a new baby, people ask how baby's sleeping, how baby's eating, comment on this and that, but rarely do new moms get asked, "And how are you doing? How are you feeling? What can I do to help you today?" New moms don't often get told by visitors, "You lie down and I'll straighten up the toys your toddler pulled out." They don't have someone intuitively knowing when the water bottle is empty, filling it, and placing it beside you again and again. They don't have someone saying, "It's okay to cry. It's okay to feel overwhelmed."
It's not possible to be 100% prepared, but it is possible to be well-supported through this life change full of hormone shifts, physical changes and discomfort that is marked by the all-day, all-consuming needs of a tiny human.
A postpartum doula is there to do any/all of those things. A postpartum doula holds you up by asking you what you need each day to feel supported, heard, and loved.
A postpartum doula assists with some physical aspects of keeping things going in the home, holds baby if you'd like to lie down, listens to your birth story as many times as you'd like to talk about it, answers your questions about baby care and feeding, helps find resources like lactation consultants and psychologists as needed. Most of all, a postpartum doula holds space for your needs. The doula listens carefully to what your individual, specific needs are that day and supports from a base of understanding and non-judgment.
If you're living in Madrid and don't have a "village" or support system like you did back in your home country or simply don't wish to lean on the one you do have here because of fear of judgment, personal preference, cultural differences, or any reason at all - you may want to consider hiring a postpartum doula.
A postpartum doula comes to your home (I also offer online support), usually a few times a week, during the first six weeks postpartum. Those weeks, like birth, are key to how you'll look back on this time. Was it impossible and lonely? Or was it difficult, but full of support and light from the people around you that made it doable, or even something you look back on with fondness.
Schedule a free 30-minute consultation now to learn how I can support you when your new baby arrives.
If you feel you aren't interested in an individual postpartum doula, but would love to connect with other English-speaking moms in the area, try the MAD Moms virtual meetup we have every two weeks.