What you need to know about Postnatal Doulas
We are fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Sinead Dufour, who is a Researcher (PhD) of all things Pelvic Health. She is also a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist in Burlington and Oakville, a Professor and lecturer at McMaster University, and on the teaching faculty of Bia Formation and Reframe Rehab and Pelvic Health Solutions. Dr. Sinead Dufour is also the sister of the founder of Compass Rose Wellness, and is a huge supporter in developing more resources and access for women’s healthcare. It was with her encouragement and assistance finding a top notch Pelvic Health Physiotherapy team, that Compass Rose Wellness Centre was opened in 2020. Imagine, after a long and tiring process of trying to conceive, finding out you have finally been blessed with what you were praying for…and then some…you are pregnant with twins. As you move through that first trimester you start to process the awesome reality of what is happening to you. As you start to notice some of the difficulties managing your new circumstances with the babies contained within your womb, you wonder how you are going to manage once these two precious humans enter the world? An exciting and daunting prospect!
This was me. Although I was more excited than anything else, I did wonder how I would be able to enjoy those early days of motherhood. How might I manage to cherish the blessings that had been bestowed on me when I felt like I did not know a thing about being a mother, and I was in for double duty?
It was my sister, Nia, who was the one who educated me on the existence of Postnatal Doulas, upon learning about my pregnancy she unequivocally said, “You need to get one”. At that point I was aware of the existence of a Birth Doula, however, I have never heard of a Postnatal Doula. In my sister’s enthusiastic words, she declared a few descriptors of a Postnatal Doula: “baby expert”; “helps get you on a rhythm as you transition”; “eliminates chaos”; “assist with family sleep”. I did not need to hear more…”sign me up”!
My Postnatal Doula support did not disappoint!! In fact, my expectations were far exceeded. I can honestly say without a doubt is was the best money I have ever spent in my life. My husband and I used to joke that we had been so lucky to find an incredible treasure that no one knew about…our Postnatal Doula, a real-life Mary Poppins, who just made life better!
So, what did the support look like for us? Well, we started with having support 3 nights a week (for approximately 7 hours at a time) and this pared down to twice a week and then once a week until we were all managing really nicely on our own. At this point I changed my support to 1 day a week, (for approximately 4 hours) to assist me as we adjusted to other transitions as our children developed.
A Postnatal Doula is an expert in postnatal family support and baby care. She understands the transitions parents and siblings make when adding a new baby or babies to the family. Here are some common supports our Postpartum Doulas provide:
- Teach you how to soothe baby
- Provide assistance with food and hydration so you can care for baby
- Support your breastfeeding/feeding efforts and help you problem solve
- Help you and baby to sleep better at night
- Allow you time to nap by taking care of the daily household chores
- Help you keep the house organized so that you feel less stress
- Teach you about your amazing newborn and stand by you as you learn, reminding you that you are doing a great job!
- Help you look after your other children so that they feel engaged and can adjust to their new sibling AND so you have time to bond with your baby
- Some may offer overnight services. These are the rare gems that are most coveted.
I continue to be surprised, ten years after my own experience with Postnatal Doulas, that people still do not know about this incredible resource. As a Pelvic Health Physiotherapists I have an opportunity to see the value of all our Doulas have in our clients lives. There are many instances when my feeling is that a client of mine would benefit more from Postnatal Doula support than from the pelvic floor intervention that have sought me for. More people need to know about Postnatal Doula support. We are talking about an incredible treasure that should not be hidden…spread the word!
Sinéad Dufour PT PhD