“Definition of a supermum – someone who gives ample time to the well being of her kids, sacrificing her own ‘me’ time. Someone who reaches out for the help she needs. Someone who doesn’t take seriously scheduling, clocks, appointments etc but who endeavors to keep her children happy and safe and well fed. The supermum sits on the sofa cuddling her newborn while reading a story to her toddler, while the dishes sit in the sink. This is a supermum ❤️❤️❤️.” Mummy Minder
Definition of a postnatal doula – A lovely lady who gives support, help, and advice to another woman after the birth of her baby.
Evelyn is 7 weeks old and we celebrated Jasper’s second birthday last month. The fact that Jasper was very much still a baby when I got pregnant again (he was 14 months old and not yet walking) I made a deal with my husband that he would take this summer off work to be at home with us, mainly to spend time with Jasper while I was in the midst of round-the-clock breastfeeding and newborn care.
As it turned out Luke landed a new fantastic contract a month before Evie arrived. My parents are amazing and come over regularly to help out but I still felt overwhelmed trying to entertain a toddler and get to grips with breastfeeding again. (It turns out Evie had a posterior tongue tie which is why feeding was so difficult and painful but that’s another story.)
A delightful morning spent in a friend’s garden with our toddlers and new babies voicing the above and she introduced me to her postnatal doula. Erin now comes to us two days a week for four hours and we absolutely love her.
Here is Erin to explain: You might wonder what a postnatal doula is. I’m supporting mums like you during the postnatal period, helping emotionally and practically in every way I can. Every family is unique, and every family has their own culture and parenting style. Without any judgement, I’m there to support and encourage and be the extra pair of hands we all so often need!
Being a doula provides a mother with ‘wrap-around’ care. Now more than ever we live far away from our family, and support systems families had in the past have broken down, thus, creating a void in the care for a new mother. A new mum needs to feel at ease, be provided with the most up-to-date evidence based information, and helped practically.
I can help care for the baby (no matter how you choose to feed your baby). Allow some ‘me’ time or alternatively, allow you time to bond with the newest member of the family by helping to take care of older siblings. I am happy to do light housekeeping – tiding up, pushing a hoover around, helping with laundry and dishes. I love to provide simple and nutritious meals and I can also pick up older children from school, and/or do some grocery shopping too.
Erin comes and fits in with our little family beautifully. Each day has been different; on the first it was a gorgeous day so Erin played with Jasper in his sandpit while I had leisurely cuddles with Evie. She got Jasper involved with hanging a load of washing on the line and then rocked Evie so Jasper and I could build an epic railway track undisturbed.
The following day Erin watched Evie while Jasper and I togged up in wet weather gear and splashed about in puddles in the garden in torrential rain! (Oh yes Erin also tidied the living room and prepped the vegetables for our dinner while we were playing.)
Last week Jasper played peacefully at Erin’s feet while she made us a gorgeous dinner while Evie and I had skin to skin naps upstairs. I know heaven. Not being able to sleep during the day was my main reason for looking for help as with Jasper I only survived constant night feeding by sleeping at least once in the day when he slept.
Jasper adores Erin already and has christened her with a sign of his own making. He is just learning to talk but we have done baby signing since he was tiny and he ‘chats’ in sign a lot.
On Wednesday Erin helped me to sort the massive pile of girls clothes my friends have bestowed on us and pack it away into age defined boxes and then I took some time for myself and…. wait for it…….. flossed my teeth and plucked my eyebrows for the first time in far too long! I even managed a 10 minute meditation before Evie demanded boobs again.
As you can see you make the day what you want/need it to be. In my Mum’s day you stayed in hospital for a couple of weeks to recover from giving birth and get used to caring for your baby, now many of us are home the following day.
I wish I’d known about postnatal doulas when Jasper was born as I remember feeling petrified when Luke went back to work and being 2 hours from family then was tough. We are not evolved to care for a newborn alone, we are supposed to have family around us to help support and care for us. If you don’t have that (or the idea of your mother-in-law being at your house continuously freaks you out) this is where a postnatal doula comes into her own.
In terms of the investment; skip those trips to Baby Gap, don’t bother buying half the baby gear you think you need as you just won’t use it and make it very clear to all friends and family that you would love hand me down clothes and baby bits.
Alternatively instead of receiving 100 pink or blue baby grows when your baby arrives ask for money towards postnatal support so you can get off to an amazing start in motherhood feeling nurtured and nourished so you in turn can offer the same to your new arrival. Doula UK do a gift voucher scheme but check you can find a postnatal doula near you who is registered with them before sending out the link.
PS While we are talking money don’t forget to claim your child benefit before your baby is 12 weeks old. £20.70 a week adds up. www.gov.uk/child-benefit
As mentioned I was really struggling with feeding. Evie just would not do the ‘wide gape’ and I was having to build myself up before each feed as it was becoming so painful. I had sought help from my midwives and at breastfeeding drop-in sessions and each time was advised that my positioning was not quite right and otherwise Evie was doing fine.
Erin is trained in breastfeeding support and after watching one feed and having a look in Evie’s mouth diagnosed a posterior tongue tie which has now been snipped by a specialist. (I will be writing about this separately.) Having Erin with me for those first couple of days following the snip to help both Evie and I relearn to breastfeed has been invaluable both physically and emotionally.
I highly recommend booking a one-to-one breastfeeding support session if you are having any issues with feeding however small. Visiting drop-ins are amazing and helped me so much with Jasper but having Erin’s full attention for a whole hour in the comfort of our own home rather than in a room full of other struggling mums made the world of difference.
Erin has been involved with babies her entire life. In recent years she trained to support mums with breastfeeding and has supported over 2,000 mums to breastfeed, and then in January 2016 she trained to become a doula.
She is based in Reading, Berkshire and is happy to cover areas around Henley and Wallingford. Her availability for the Fall Term- September to December 2017 is Thursdays and Fridays 9:30-2:30pm, 4 hour session minimum. She has a current, enhanced DBS check, is fully insured and registered with Doula UK.
There are breastfeeding support specialists and postnatal doulas based all over the UK check out these resources to find someone near you:
Photo Jasper and Erin.
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