I remember the thought that popped into my mind when my firstborn was placed upon my chest immediately after he was born…

“Things” just got real

I thought I was prepared and really grasped what it meant to have a newborn. That moment I held my baby for the first time made me realize that nothing could have truly prepared me for that moment. I was fortunate that my mother-in-law was a retired NICU nurse – she showed me everything I needed to know about caring for a baby.

what does a postpartum doula

I have heard many parents express worry about caring for their newborns. How will they know what to do? The good news is, a lot of it is pretty intuitive. Also, babies are fairly resilient! They are experts at knowing what they want and fussing until we correctly address their need.

I hear tales of magical unicorn babies who are great sleepers. I always wonder if it’s just the nature of the child, or something the parent does? That said, none of my four babies have been great sleepers. The first few months were especially tough with the twins!

Another twin mom recently told me that she wished she would have gotten more assistance with her babies early on. Looking back, I can certainly say that would have been incredibly helpful in our house.

One thing that caught me off guard with the birth of my second child was how isolating it could be to a new parent. I was by no means new to Seattle at that time, but most of my friends with small children didn’t live nearby. My friends who did live nearby had elementary-aged children. My husband was traveling a lot for work at the time so I was the one getting up with the baby most nights.

I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was severely sleep-deprived and probably suffering from postpartum depression. I was so scattered I felt like I couldn’t clearly finish my thoughts or tasks efficiently. This obviously seriously impacted both my work life and my home life, and not in a good way.

When my son was around 18 months old he suddenly began sleeping better and not waking up during the night. After I had a few months’ worth of restful sleep I felt so much better and not so muddled. It made me wish that I had sought help when my son was still an infant. Perhaps that would have set the stage for him to be a better sleeper, and in turn, I would have been able to get more rest?

Many people are familiar with what a birth doula does. But are you familiar with how a postpartum doula can help out with your newborn?

what does a postpartum doulaI reached out to the Northwest Association for Postpartum Support (NAPS) – Certified Doula Selina Cotton to share some information with parents about how a doula can be helpful with newborns, and information about what the process is for nannies considering NAPS certification:

Do you have a new baby on the way? Do you have a newborn and feel like you could use a little help? Have you considered a postpartum doula?

A postpartum doula is professionally trained to support families as they adjust to life with a new baby in the house. This support looks different depending on the family’s needs. Some examples:

  • providing a listening ear without judgment as parents process a difficult birth
  • help with breast/chest/bottle feeding
  • assistance in understanding baby’s cues and learning soothing techniques
  • light housekeeping, meal prep, and household organization
  • sibling and pet care
  • overnight care while parents sleep

Day shifts are often four to six hours and night shifts tend to be eight to ten hours, though every family’s needs are different.

Postpartum doulas are meant to provide support for a season of life and slowly work themselves out of a job as parents’ confidence grow.

The Northwest Association for Postpartum Support (NAPS) Doulas is a local organization that certifies postpartum doulas and can provide you with a list of referrals to doulas with current availability.

Nannies, have you ever considered becoming a postpartum doula?

It can be a natural progression from nanny to postpartum doula, as you are likely already using many of the skills necessary to be a great doula! I’m happy to answer any questions you may have, but wanted to share a bit about the process.

To start, take a postpartum doula training course. There are courses available online and through Simkin Center in Kenmore. As a postpartum doula, you would be operating as a business owner, not a household employee, so you’d need to register with the IRS, state, and city/county where you do business. From this point, you would be considered a postpartum doula. You set your own prices, build your own contracts, and find your own clients.

Some doulas choose to pursue additional training/education and certify through a doula organization. I am certified through NAPS Doulas and am thankful for the referral line, network of back-up doulas, and accountability to a greater organization should any clients feel dissatisfied with my work.

Selina is a wife, mother, doula, and car seat educator. She lives with her husband and little boy in south King County. She enjoys quality time spent with friends and family, cooking wholesome food at home, and spending time with her family. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

Selina is a NAPS-certified postpartum doula exclusively working overnights. She has current availability for two nights/week through the end of August. Parents, please feel free to send an e-mail to her by clicking here if you could use some overnight support. If you are a nanny and you have any questions, please reach out to Selina as well!

More information can be found at http://selinacotton.com/

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