The first weeks and months after the birth of a baby have a huge impact on the long term emotional and physical health of the baby and mother. In cultures throughout the world, communities traditionally care for new mothers for a specified amount of time (weeks and often months) after the birth of the baby. New mothers are cherished and supported. They are fed nourishing food, allowed to rest, and given lots of support and pampering.
America offers some of the least support in the world during the postpartum period. The United States is one of the only places in the world where women are expected to bounce back quickly after giving birth. Women are pressured to return to work promptly, keep a clean house, and entertain guests. Extended family living nearby and close knit communities who offer support and guidance are no longer part of our culture. This can all lead to a stressful and unpredictable postpartum period. Mothers are left feeling unsupported, isolated, and full of mixed feelings. Society can also portray parenting as something that will just come naturally to mothers after they have their baby. While it is important for women to trust their instincts, much of parenting is learned. The postpartum period should be a time to bond with your baby, rest, and learn. It can be a sacred, beautiful time.
The presence of a postpartum doula has been found to…
- Increase the rate of successful breastfeeding
- Reduce the incidence of postpartum mood disorders
- Decrease the number of unnecessary calls and visits to pediatricians
- Strengthen the maternal-infant bond
- Foster the self-confidence of both parents
- Enhance all relationships within the family structure
- Contribute toward a shorter recovery time for the mother following birth
For more information about the benefits of a postpartum doula, please go to the DONA (Doulas of North America) website to read their position paper on this topic.