Are you wondering what a doula? How they can help you and your family? Think of a doula as your very own personal Mary Poppins. Our doulas support families in Toronto, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Oakville, Milton, Brampton, Caledon, Guelph, Orangeville, Vaughan, Newmarket and the surrounding communities.
As postpartum and infant care doulas we know that even the thought of having visitors after birth can be stressful. You are trying to recover from whatever type of birth you had. Your emotions and hormones are all over the place, you haven’t slept and are running only on adrenaline and love! Your house and hair are a mess, and you’re trying to figure out how to feed and soothe this new human in your life.
HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: Postpartum & Infant Care Doulas are NOT visitors!
“It’s our job to take away the stress, not add to it! Think of us as your very own personal Mary Poppins!”
What is a doula and how can they help you and your family?
So glad you asked what a doula is! Your Lifetime of Love Postpartum Doula has many roles. We can support you from the time your little one is born all the way up to their first birthday! Here are a few of the ways in which we can be of service to you and your family.
A doula helps you process your birth experience
We know that the birth experience can have a profound affect on our experience during the fourth trimester (those first 3 months with a new baby) and beyond. We spend time talking with you about your birth experience and answering any questions you might have about it (especially if we were your birth doula too). Here’s the thing – we are there to listen to the great and not so great parts of it. We know that birth is more than “Well at least you have a healthy baby”. You may have some feelings you need to work through – and that’s where we come in!
Your infant feeding choices will be supported
Bottle or breast, we can help you get off on the right foot! We want you to know that we support your infant feeding choices, without judgement. We know that support during those first 5 days after the birth of your baby is very important when it comes to infant feeding. We’ll be there for you guiding you every step of the way – in person or virtually (phone or video).
We teach you and your baby how to get a good latch
Don’t believe what you’ve heard – breastfeeding should NOT be painful, even in the beginning! We teach you and your baby how to have a good latch. We are keeping an eye out for any “red flags” that could signal something is not going as it should. The number of poos and pees, time baby spends on versus off the breast, weight loss/gain, jaundice, baby’s behaviour, all of these things can tell us if something is going on. Sometimes we are able to help you fix issues and overcome feeding hurdles yourself or sometimes we refer you to other healthcare resources in your area if more support is need.
We’ll explain the ins and outs of pumping
We can also teach you how to clean and use your breast pump. And if you are bottle feeding breast milk or formula, teach you proper bottle-feeding techniques (like paced bottle feeding). We talk in depth about all of these things in our prenatal Breastfeeding Basics class.
We help with baby’s first bath
Carol Anne calls me “the baby bath whisperer”! I have a gentle, cry-free and stress free technique to bathing babies. Did you know that babies are born with a white-cheesy substance on their skin called vernix? This vernix is incredible stuff! It is made up of water, fat and protein. It is antimicrobial and has antioxidants vitamin-E and melanin to protect your baby’s skin. Don’t wash it off! More families are asking for their baby’s vernix NOT to be wiped off after birth with towels or washed off in a sponge bath. You can say no to the hospital bath and instead wait 3-5 days to do baby’s first bath at home. Check out this great article on vernix!
Your doula will talk with you about normal and abnormal postpartum mood
While we are not therapists, we are very aware that approximately 15-20% of women will have a postpartum mood disorder after the birth of their baby(ies). Doulas are a great resource to talk about normal and abnormal postpartum mood. We are a safe shoulder to cry on, one that won’t judge you for your thoughts, feelings and struggles. What else can a doula help you and your family with? Doulas can help you determine if what you are feeling is just part of the gig of having a new baby or if it is something more that needs some attention. We can then refer you to the proper resources and recommended health care providers for more support.
Caring for baby and older siblings
We’ll take care of them so that you can sleep, shower, eat a hot meal, go out for a cup of coffee or tea, run errands, walk your dog, get work done. Basically, you can do whatever you want or whatever you need!
We care for you
We’ll make you a cup of tea and rub your tired and swollen feet (yes, they can stay swollen for a few days/weeks after birth). We can cook you your favourite meal, be a companion to you and a trusted confidant. No judgement, just support.
Your doula is your extra set of hands to help keep things tidy
Please don’t stress about the mess, we have kids too! It is nearly impossible to stay on top of the household chaos. We are happy to run a load of baby laundry, do the dishes, fix the pillows on the couch and sweep up!
Your pets will feel the love too
We know that your fur babies are family too. Sometimes pets have a hard time adjusting to the change of dynamics in the household. We know that they still need their meals on time, playtime, walks and extra cuddles.
Supporting your baby carrying goals
Maybe you practiced wearing a stuffed animal or doll in a wrap, soft-structured carrier, meh dai (incorrectly known as a mei tai) or Ring Sling, but your wriggly baby is proving harder to wear – and this seems to be a more daunting task than you imagined. We can assist in helping you learn the correct carries and safety techniques. You can also check out Carol Anne’s great blog post about babywearing as she shares her passion about ring slings.
Let us make your meals
Surviving the first few weeks postpartum with a newborn baby is tough. New parents are so focused on feeding baby that they tend to forget to keep themselves nourished with good food. We are happy to feed you! Your doula’s time can be spent cleaning and cutting up fresh fruits and veggies, making you a hummus and cheese plate, filling homemade crepes with jam, throwing your pre-made frozen meals in the oven for you, or making you a lasagna from scratch!
We’ll run errands for you (or with you)
Sometimes getting to the grocery store is too overwhelming a task after you’ve just had a baby. Send us your list and we’ll pick up everything you need. If you or your baby have a doctor’s appointment and you are anxious about going on your own, we can go with you. We are happy to help you and baby get out of the house and assist in your adventure into the world with your little one.
Supporting healthy sleep – yours and baby’s
Sleep, sleep, sleep – or rather the utter lack of it, is a form of torture! Did you know it takes anywhere from 12-16 weeks for a baby’s circadian rhythm to start developing? In the meantime we can offer you lots of tips and tricks to help you get more sleep. We can also hold your baby so that you can go get some rest! Our doulas offer help with getting sleep for the parents and the baby.
Overnight doula care is a real thing
Our greater Toronto area Doula services also offer overnight doula support. Your postpartum doula comes to you and spends the night caring for your baby. Changing diapers, settling them to sleep, and giving bottles. We’ll only wake you to breastfeed or pump milk. It is helpful for all parents to get rest so they can recover faster from birth and care for their baby. It’s especially great for parents who work freelance or are self employed. Working while getting used to life with a newborn is tough!
Grandparents love us
We know that there can be generational differences in parenting. Often when grandparents are around during our postpartum shifts we show them the way we do the things now versus how they may have approached something. Our generation that has access to evidence based infant care. As postpartum doulas and experts in baby care we can assure them that most babies don’t need to be swaddled, explain why we don’t use baby powder anymore, or rubbing alcohol on a umbilical cord stump. We assure them that holding the baby spoil them. We talk about why it’s okay to breastfeed for as long as you and baby want! There have been so many changes since they were parenting. Sometimes hearing it from the doula means less headbutting and tension between you and your mom or mother in law!
PHEW, THAT’S A LONG LIST… but I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what postpartum and infant care doulas can do for families. If you live in the greater Toronto area, including Toronto, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Oakville, Milton, Brampton, Caledon, Guelph, Orangeville, Vaughan, Newmarket and the surrounding communities, reach out to us by phone or email – we would love to support you on your parenting journey.
Sarah Baker is a the co-owner of Lifetime of Love Doula Services. She has been supporting families for almost a decade as a birth doula, postpartum & infant care doula and childbirth educator. She is mom to three boys, twins and a singleton.