So often, postpartum doulas get confused with "baby nurses"
but they are not the same! And it reminds me that parents often don't know the difference between real baby nurses (like the RN kind who work with doctors) or the babysitter kind who are not necessarily trained in anything...
Postpartum doulas are trained (and the best doulas are not just trained, but also certified by MaternityWise International) in supporting the mother and helping her to care for her baby without completely doing it for her. We are often called baby nurses because people don't know the term "postpartum doula". And they also often don't know the difference.
A baby nurse traditionally (the non-medical kind) will take care of your baby for you like a nanny or grandmother. Years ago, she was also considered a nurse because she literally nursed the baby - yes breastfed it. This was common among affluent families and especially in the south. Don't be squeamish. Get over it. It happened. And for mothers who truly didn't make enough milk, it was a godsend.
These baby nurses usually had experience with babies children, and took over the mothering duties to allow the mother more freedom to live a less motherly life. Remember Peter Pan? The dog was the "nurse". Many children's stories have a nanny who is referred to as the "nurse". Again, don't be offended. It happened. And it still happens. If you don't want to be one of those mothers, it is OK! You can get an extra hand and get some more sleep without giving up your mother-ness.
MaternityWise Certified Postpartum Doulas are trained in helping to empower the mother who wants to be THE mother. :) We can help troubleshoot breastfeeding issues and assist with mom's nutritional needs. We can give advice on everything baby related including gassy, fussy colicky babies, burping, diaper rash, food sensitivities, gentle sleep training assistance, etc. Meanwhile we can also help with more practical matters such as laundry and dishes, and meal prep as well as errands - so that your world can revolve around your baby!! (as it should)
Now, to clear up a few things....
Postpartum Doulas come into your home, listen to you as the mother. We ask questions and get to know you and your baby and your preference in the way of doing things. At some point, we may have tips to tweak your routine, and you might ask us loads of questions and want all of our advice, but we never "walk in and take over". A number of the services in our city do just that, and parents come to us, worried that we will do the same. They don't want a less expensive, less qualified service, if it means having a stranger come in to tell them how to rearrange their lives. Neither would I.
I was speaking to a mother recently, who is expecting twins. She said something very wise. She knows that there is no way to really plan for or know in advance exactly the way things will go with the twins, but she wants to learn and she wants to have the freedom to make mistakes. I thought that to be one of the most healthy and mature perspectives on early parenting that a mother could have. It is going to be a real pleasure to walk that journey alongside her, assisting, supporting, never judging or "bossing", but having her back, reassuring and helping her learn about her babies at her own pace.
One more clarification...
We are NOT a baby nurse hotline - as in the medical kind.
I've had several calls in the middle of the night recently with parents I've never met asking whether or not they should take their baby into the emergency room. I could hear the concern and the anxiety in their voices, but this is not something I can help with. They were not my clients, I did not know them or their baby. I had no prior history or experience with them. Unfortunately, I could not give them the listening ear they wanted. If their baby was exhibiting symptoms that concerned them, I explained, they needed to contact their pediatrician's office or just "go in" to wherever their pediatrician's office would send them in the middle of the night.
While I might be able to explain what normal is for my clients, it will always be in their hands to make the decision to seek medical treatment or not. As a doula, my job is to educate, but not to make a parent feel pressured to make a choice in any direction. That is not my decision, because it is not my baby.
That probably sums it up. We are not the parents. We are the assistants. The servants.
And you'll be glad we limit our care to the Scope of Practice in which we do.
Because we know our place, our role, we do it well and the benefits you'll receive are immeasurable.
If you need help getting sleep, or caring for your newborn, and you want advice that could make your life easier in this sometimes rocky transition, please give us a call to find out who in your area is a MaternityWise Doula.
Anne Croudace, Director of MaternityWise
CLD, CPD, CLDT, CPDT, CLSE, EpiDoula
Former owner of Tranquil Seasons Doulas in San Antonio