Hello and thank you Oh Mumma for having me here to chat all things postnatal doula and a little bit about me and how I find myself here, talking about what a postnatal doula does, on your blog.
My name is Emma and I live in Sidcup with my husband and 3 children (14,11,7). When my eldest started primary school I took a years career break to take him to and from school and take care of my middle child. It was meant to be for a year or so but 10 years and another child later I became a full time stay at home Mum. I have loved every minute of being at home with my children (well nearly all the minutes) but as my children have grown I felt it was time to start thinking about a career and also I wanted to show them that mums can be breadwinners and have a career too, something that was really important to me. As I was getting well into my 40’s I told all my close friends, and myself “this is our time!”. I really, firmly believe that. Having had our children in our 30’s and for myself, not really having a career as such, just sort of ending up in a role that I did love but I wasn’t passionate about, I really did feel that this was “my” time. I wanted to embark on a career, not just part-time work that I could fit in around the children. I wanted something that lit my fire and made me feel like I was making a real difference. I had always wanted to work with new mums and babies but I wasn’t sure which path to take.
Becoming a postnatal doula really happened by chance. A chat with another school mum at a children’s party, literally over a Dairylea sandwich, she told me all about postnatal doulas. She told me that she was thinking about training and I told her (I didn’t ask lol) that I would be joining her on said training course. I was sold! Fast forward a couple of years and a pandemic and we finally got to attend an in person training course based in London for a week where we really got to grips with what a postnatal doula is and does. This, coupled with some pretty intensive pre and post coursework , I am now a mentored postnatal doula.
Next, I had to get to grips with setting up my own business, websites, social media and promotion. I am doing my best and have found that there are so many women and men out there really welcoming me into the birth and postnatal community and supporting what I do, which has been surprising and amazing all at the same time. I also now have my lovely friend that I trained with as back up and myself for her which also works really well.
So what is a postnatal doula and why do you need one? I know when I first heard about one and started my training my heart ached as I wished I had known about them when I had my 3 children. The postnatal period is a really precious but challenging time that really needs to be supported. We were never meant to go through the postnatal period alone and with grandparents getting older or younger and busier, families moving away from their close relatives and partners going back to work after a couple of weeks, someone else needs to be there for you so that you can have the postnatal period that you and your family deserve.
Firstly, let's talk about what we actually do. We offer emotional, practical, physical and informational support to parents during the 4th trimester and sometimes beyond. We don’t offer advice, we offer up to date information and facts so that you can make your own, informed decisions. We can signpost you to local services for anything from breastfeeding consultants to postnatal massage. We can LISTEN. How often have you told another woman your birth story only for you to be interrupted with her own story? As postnatal doulas we are trained to hold your space and listen with empathy to your story. We don’t talk about our own experiences and are trained so that we can listen and support you. What about breastfeeding support? A lot of us have had extra training in this area and from my own research I have found that this is an extremely neglected area postnatally, so I am currently training with Younique postnatal to be a breastfeeding coach so that I can incorporate that into my postnatal doula services. I can support you to get your breastfeeding off to a good start if that is the way you choose to feed your baby and I can even come onto the postnatal ward (assuming Covid permits) and support you there. If you are still having difficulties I can signpost to the most amazing support in your area in the form of lactation consultants and breastfeeding groups. How about cooking you lunch or dinner, entertaining your toddler whilst you feed your baby, putting a wash on, hanging a wash out, putting the food shopping away, having a tidy around, holding the baby in a sling and doing some jobs whilst you take a shower or having a nap? You can ask me to do all of those things and more and not feel guilty about asking me. I also offer night doula services, I can bring the baby to you to feed if you are breastfeeding, take them once they have fed, change and re settle them until the next feed so that you and your family can rest. If they are bottle fed then I can take care of them all night for you. This works really well for those families that really want to catch up on some sleep and I can include that in a postnatal day package if it is something that you would like.
So, let's get down to the nitty gritty. How much is it I hear you ask? All of my prices are on my prices and packages page on my website. I am constantly training and learning and adding to my skillset. I am first aid trained via Daisy First Aid (Ofsted recognised) and DBS checked. But I like to look at it in a way that is more tangible. When I had my first son I bought a “Bloom” highchair, it cost a few hundred pounds and by my third child that had been sold and I was using an Ikea high chair which was perfect and so much better for the job. If I had just bought the Ikea chair in the first place I could have had a postnatal doula for 20 hours for those first 4 weeks at home after my husband went back to work. Much more useful than a top of the range, hardly used gadget. I offer gift vouchers too and these can be given as a gift at a baby shower. I could talk on and on about the benefits of having a postnatal doula and, as I am sure you can tell I feel really passionate about local services and making sure a family has the right support in place to have the best postnatal experience. After you have birthed your baby, you need to rest and recover with your newborn and family in your bubble. Someone coming in and feeding you, taking care of you and listening to you who can make that rest, recovery and bonding really happen rather than feeling you have to “bounce-back”, be back in your jeans and cooking the dinner the moment you get home from hospital!
Please do drop me a line or call me if you would like to find out more, there is loads more information about what I do on my website and you can also find me on instagram and Doula UK (links at the bottom of the page). I would love for more people to use postnatal doulas and start a revolution where birthing people and families really start to embrace the 4th trimester and settle into it and allow themselves to be cared for and listened to.
I have loved writing a little bit more about what I do and I also cannot recommend the Oh Mumma boxes enough, I have gifted them to new Mumma’s on more than one occasion and have seen how happy a new Mumma is opening the box, seeing that it’s something just for them. A bit like a postnatal doula.