In other cultures around the world, traditional postpartum practices still exist. Countries in Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere recognize the importance of rest and support for the person who has given birth. That person isn’t expected to go about their normal daily routine; instead they set up camp in bed with their new babe, and their only job for several weeks (often 30-40 days) is to rest, recover, and feed the baby. Others step in and take care of all other duties. New parents are fully supported while stepping into their roles.
I don’t know about you - but I think this is pretty awesome! We have a lot to gain from looking at these traditional practices and seeing how we can adapt and implement some of them in our Canadian homes.
For those that like more scholarly reports, know that there is a huge amount of evidence surrounding the importance of support in the postpartum period. Here is one lengthy paper that discusses the value of postpartum doulas, in relation to maternal empathy and self-confidence. Postpartum doula care has been found to positively influence postpartum mood disorder rates as well as breastfeeding outcomes. Pretty great!
Can't I just have my friends and family help me out?
Yes, of course! It’s a good idea to use whatever resources you have available. This is the time to build your village of support people...and a postpartum doula makes a great addition to your village. Some folks may not be close (either physically or emotionally) to their families. Also, while friends and family have the best intentions, sometimes their visits can add more stress for parents (for example, if all they do is cuddle the baby, give advice, and ask for a cup of coffee). The beauty of postpartum doula support is that it’s unbiased, non-judgemental, and focused on your needs, not just baby’s. Postpartum doulas are not social visitors who need to be entertained - we’re here to delve into the messiness of this life-changing transition alongside you. We’re in the game. We’re your teammate, your cheerleader, and your coach.