As a mother and a pregnant woman I want you to know that I need your services AFTER my baby is born too.
Most people haven't even heard of doulas, but even if they have they usually think it means birth support. Actually the term doula, in its modern sense, was coined by Dana Raphael to mean breastfeeding support. She was a reflexive anthropologist who was exploring why she (along with so many modern mothers) couldn't breastfeed. She asked herself how the human race could have survived this long if breastfeeding was so hard.
She discovered what she called 'doulas' in 178 different traditional cultures:
"...this is a really profound revelation. I had discovered that there was a physiological process (breastfeeding) that needed to have something in place in the culture or else the lactation function would not work. I don't know of any other biological process that needs the culture to supply support. In the case of breastfeeding, the woman had to have another person present and supportive so the let-down reflex would work."
Over time the term doula has morphed into meaning birth support, probably as a reaction to our medicalised and masculine birth system. Women now need more support in preparation for and support during labour in terms of advocacy, decision making and comfort measures.
But I think we still need postpartum support now, more than ever.
Today mothers are sent home from the hospital within 4 hours of giving birth, financial pressure sends parents back to work long before they are ready, and extended family live too far away to help.
The results reveal that this isn't working. One in three women don't reach their own breastfeeding goals, 80% of couples experience a moderate to severe crisis in the transition to parenthood, and one in five mothers experience postpartum depression.
The care that was traditionally provided to a Newborn Mother by her family now needs to be replaced with professional services, like doulas, midwives and lactation consultants.
Traditional cultures celebrate and support Newborn Mothers, and modern women need these traditions NOW more than ever. I'm on a mission to help more birth professionals care for Newborn Mothers in a way that's been lost in modern society.
As a postpartum doula I invite you join a renaissance in the way we care for Newborn Mothers.