Before I had my first baby, I had heard the word “doula” thrown around. I’ll be honest that I jumped to some assumptions, and decided without almost any knowledge that a doula wasn’t for me in particular. I knew I was going to have my baby by C-section, for reasons I won’t get into, and I really thought that doulas were basically birth coaches.
It’s only now that I’m immersed in the world of trying to be supportive to other new mothers that I’m kicking myself for not looking into getting help from a postpartum doula, just to have some female community and support for the craziness. So I asked my new friend Emily Skyrm to guest blog about why she loves being a postpartum doula. Emily is the co-founder of Baby Caravan, in NYC, and spends a lot of time supporting new mothers who are heading back to work. My kind of girl. So without further ado…here’s Emily!
As new mothers we come across so many people who consider themselves “experts.” The sleep experts, lactation experts, expert postpartum chefs…the list goes on and on. It’s gotten to a point now that there are so many “experts” in this field that woman are finding it harder and harder to actually trust themselves.
As a postpartum doula and back-to-work coach living in New York City, I step into the homes of some pretty incredible women. My job is to help them develop their own pathway into motherhood. But the true value I bring to a home is when I help a new mother realize that she has the inner knowledge and strength to be her own expert.
I once coached a new mother going back to work as a Labor and Delivery Nurse in one of New York City’s premiere neo-natal hospitals. She was going to be doing three over night shifts in a row and the logistics of pumping while working were driving her crazy. She was so nervous she wouldn’t have time to pump and that in three days her milk would dry up and her goals of nursing would shrivel up and die.
Like I do with all the women I work with who are transitioning back to work, we talked about worst case scenarios. I was cautious but I said it, “and if worst came to worst, you can always supplement, even just one bottle”…and then I held my breath.
Her shoulders dropped and she laughed, “I can’t believe I needed you to tell me this.” This was something she had been telling every new mother she had worked with in the NICU who was struggling to feed a premature baby – for years she was reassuring new mothers that they were good enough; now she needed to hear it from someone else.
My job is to show women they already know what’s best for their babies, to empower them to trust themselves, and to be a sounding board for thoughts they’re processing.
It’s so necessary that we all have someone who can remind us that we are enough. And once I leave my clients, you can be sure that I’ll be in my own house, head in my hands surviving my own parental guilt and chaos – because no one is the ultimate expert and we’re all just SURVIVING.