Let me set the scene, you are bringing your newborn to a gathering of family/friends, or maybe you are hosting the gathering. At any rate, most of the people in attendance have not met your baby. But they are all here, waiting....probably not very patiently to see and hold your new little one. Dying to deeply inhale the scent of new baby :) For some new parents this a nightmare situation, for others not as much.
If you are the mother, or parent who finds this situation stressful, you have the right to say no!!! I know it's difficult, especially with family, they are so excited and want to be a part of your baby's life. But even the most well intended family member or friend can stress mama and/or baby out. Even newborns, sleepy as they are get over-stimulated. Their sleep cycles are short and being passed around like a hot potato can easy disrupt that cycle, making one touched-out, irritated and over tired infant.
If you feel that you or your infant cannot tolerate being handled by several people, you can politely decline this receiving line. Welcome everyone to approach and meet the baby while in your arms. Or invite people over in small groups. It's also okay to ask loved ones to wash their hands, babies are very vulnerable to germs as their immune systems are adjusting to life on the outside. Your only job is to be polite when advocating your or your baby's needs. If people are briefly offended, don't worry, they will most likely write your requests off as postpartum hormones!!!
The question I am often asked is, what is a Postpartum Doula? What do you do? Doula has become a more known word in the mainstream. But most often, Birth Doulas are what people are most familiar with. The benefits of Birth Doulas are becoming more recognized and rightfully so. Postpartum Doulas are as beneficial to new parents as a Birth Doula is to your birth outcome and experience.
Part of the lack of understanding is that sometimes what we do is difficult to define, the vague terms of physical, emotional and informational supports. But distilled, what does this mean exactly??? It means knowledge of birth recovery (both vaginal & cesarean) and being able to help you recover. Assisting you with comfort measures and making sure you have the things you need to aid in that recovery, i.e. nutrition, rest and help with household tasks so you have time to bond with your baby. We have knowledge to help you care for your baby, warning signs, knowledge of maternal/paternal mental health concerns and are ready to help direct you to services in the community. We are able to help with infant care and are armed with lots of tips, tricks and are wanting to help you gain confidence and skills in your new role.
We do not do enough to support new families, we live further away from families than ever before, we have less support systems than ever before. Postpartum Doulas aren't family, but they can bridge the support gap, helping new parents gain skills and confidence as they transition into their new roles! Postpartum Doulas I believe will become as mainstream as Birth Doulas, both support roles are so beneficial to the families we support, help spread the word:)