A postpartum what? Postpartum doula? Before I created Mindful Return, I was clueless about so many of the birth professionals that can help a woman’s transition to motherhood go more smoothly. Yes, I already had two kiddos of my own. But clearly I had missed out on a vast network of support I could have taken advantage of when my babies were tiny. In part, I was stubborn and had a go-it-alone attitude. And in part, I just wasn’t aware of what was out there.
In a world where so many of us live far away from family and close friends, support from experts like post-partum doulas can make all the difference when our little one arrives home. Today, I’m happy to introduce to you Nikki Wray of Metropolitan Doulas LLC, a Washington, DC-area Postpartum Doula agency. She’s here to explain how you might consider engaging with a postpartum doula to help you with your transition back to work after maternity leave.
You just had your baby. And you made it through the birth you had been anxiously awaiting for months. You made it through weeks of sleep deprivation (more or less in one piece…). Now you’ve survived the dreaded 6-week growth spurt, and all of a sudden the end of your maternity leave is looming.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time mother, or a veteran of multiple pregnancies. One of the most challenging aspects of the postpartum period is navigating your return to work, while continuing to juggle all the ongoing responsibilities of caring for your new baby.
Your to-do list probably looks something like this:
- Figure out how to pump at work
- Try on all of your pre-pregnancy work clothing and see what fits
- Work out how to get to the office on time, and not covered in spit-up
- Learn how to safely store milk, how to send it to daycare each day, and figure out how much to send
- Somehow do all of this while caring for your new, amazing baby…
But you don’t have to tackle these tasks alone, mama. When you read the title of this post, if your first thought was the same question Lori had, “a postpartum what?”, then read on.
Postpartum Doulas are baby-care experts who can help you with all aspects of newborn care, household organization, and family adjustment. And they can help you through all of the many transitions that you’ll go through as you welcome your new baby into your family. They’ll answer your many questions about your baby’s feeding, sleep, fussiness, patterns, and cues. And will give you hands-on practical help when you most need it. In short, their job is to ease your burden in every way they can.
They are the extra set of hands you wish you had.
Your own personal Google-search–who has already sifted through all of that contradictory advice for you.
Someone you can trust to watch your baby for a couple of hours so you can get things done. Or take some time for self-care, without worrying that they might put your baby down to sleep on their stomach. Or introduce rice cereal at 10 weeks old “so they will sleep better.”
Having a postpartum doula in your home can be hugely helpful in ensuring that you feel prepared for your return to work. Perhaps you don’t feel ready to leave your baby just yet. And you’re anxious or scared. Maybe you are excited to be able to finally leave the house by yourself. Yet this leaves you with “mommy guilt.” Perhaps you are simply feeling overwhelmed at all there is to tackle with only so many hours in a day. The transition is always challenging. But there are people out there who can support you.
Postpartum doulas can offer guidance and emotional support for this period. They will hear your feelings and concerns, while helping you tie everything together into a plan that you feel good about.
They can also be the friendly set of hands to hold your fussing baby while you try clothes on for the office. Answer questions about pumping and milk storage. And take care of light housework, to keep everything flowing while you prepare for your first days back.
To learn more about the role a postpartum doula can play in bringing baby home and preparing for your return to work, or to find a postpartum doula in your area, check out Metropolitan Doulas or DONA International.
Nikki Wray is a Certified Postpartum Doula (DONA), Newborn Care Specialist, and Certified Lactation Counselor, with 1000s of hours of experience working with new parents. She found herself met with a blank stare every time she told new people what her profession was, along with many statements such as “I wish I knew about this when my baby was born!” She made it her goal to spread awareness that postpartum support exists and to make it finding a great Doula a much easier process for expectant and new families. So, in 2015 she teamed up with Dr. Kathleen McCue of Metropolitan Breastfeeding to start Metropolitan Doulas.
Looking for more practical help with your return to work after maternity leave? Take the next session of the Mindful Return E-Course.