You’ve heard of birth doulas and postpartum doulas, so what’s the difference with an ‘In Hospital Postpartum Doula’?
As the name suggests, an In Hospital Postpartum Doula works with new parents and babies while they are still in the hospital. The need for this kind of service came about as more and more hospitals began to do away with nurseries. In the past, your baby would spend some time in the nursery, while you recovered. Doing away with nurseries was a move that was touted as being baby-friendly. And there is no doubt that a new mom needs time to bond with her baby and that skin-to-skin contact in the early hours and days after delivery are profoundly important.
But a new mom also needs to sleep, particularly if the delivery was difficult. And not everyone has help from spouses, partners or family. Not everyone can count on your partner being around to take care of the baby for an hour or two while mom takes a nap. Work, siblings at home, family living too far away: there are any number of reasons why mom might find herself on her own in the hospital with a newborn. And if it’s a first child, that baby comes with all the worries and concerns of first time parenthood:
•Am I holding him / her correctly?
•How do I make sure the diaper is on right?
•How do I take care of the umbilical cord stump?
•How do I bath this wriggly little person?
•I’m afraid to take a nap, let alone a shower, with no one around to watch over the baby.
Critics of the new ‘baby-friendly’ style have stated that the real reason for the 24 hour live-in between mom and baby is to enforce breastfeeding. There may be some truth to that. According to a story in the Washington Post, a mom who wanted to send her baby to the nursery was required to fill out paperwork explaining why, further reinforcing the notion that self-care is ‘selfish’ and adding to the unreasonable judgement that parents already cope with, even before the birth of their new baby.
“At the growing number of hospitals in the United States that are certified as “baby-friendly,” the naked, often unbathed infant is put on the mother’s bare chest within the first hour of birth. Mothers are to nurse “on demand” whenever babies are hungry. No pacifiers are available. Formula may be provided, but only on request, and only after, in some instances, mothers sign a waiver acknowledging that using a bottle could impede breastfeeding. Lactation consultants roam the floor.” (Source: Washington Post, Link above)
An In Hospital Postpartum Doula can solve so many issues for new parents, particularly in the era of the ‘baby-friendly’ hospital.
Some of the tasks your doula will help you with:
•Answering questions about and providing assistance with: diapering, bathing, stump care, and anything else you can think of, short of medical questions.
•Helping with feeding, with no judgement.
•Watching over baby will mom gets some rest or takes a shower.
•Being the extra pair of hands that mom might need at first, particularly if her mobility is restricted due to sutures (episiotomy or c-section).
•Be an advocate for mom with the hospital resources, if necessary.
Having a baby is stressful and exhausting so having someone on your birth team who is exclusively there for you and your baby is a relief that cannot be measured. If you have any questions about what a doula does, whether in hospital or at home, let us know!