When I trained as a labor doula, my trainer said something that has stuck with my and transformed the way I look at my work as a doula. She said something along the lines of "labor support is not a necessity, but postpartum support is". I immediately kicked myself for not having taken the postpartum doula support training just the weekend before and since that day I have developed a very different view of the value of a postpartum doula.
I don't think it's any secret that in our society and culture, we don't do a great job taking care of women and families postpartum. Our country provides minimal time off for new moms and many times offers no time off for new dads before they have to return to work. Women are discharged from the hospital and are not seen again for about 6 weeks after they have had their babies. 6 weeks is a long time to sit with questions or to struggle without support or knowing if certain things are normal. And yes, we all know we should contact our care providers if we have any questions or concerns, but we are not always great at making our own care a priority.
I remember as a new mom feeling completely taken off guard by the degree of exhaustion I felt. I had no idea how tired a person could be and still *kind of* function. I remember thinking that I just had to make it to 6-8 weeks and both of my twins would sleep better, maybe even "through the night". Little did I know, that one of my twins would not begin sleeping well until closer to two years old.
I remember googling the symptoms of exhaustion and post adoption depression to try and figure out if I was depressed or just really, really tired. The symptoms for both were about the same and I never sought additional support.
I was fortunate to have family support in town. Both sets of our parents lived within five minutes and were always quick to help when they were free. My aunt set up a meal train that lasted the first 2-3 months. It sounds like I had adequate support right? While those in my life were incredibly supportive, our moms both worked full time, so they weren't always available when I needed them. Some days I would watch the clock until my mom got off from work and call her immediately for help. As an adoptive mom who worked for a small company, I needed to return to work very early, read 2.5 weeks. I had two babies who needed to be fed and changed in the night. Two babies who did not function on the same schedule because one had special needs. A husband who was finishing the semester in school and me back to work early. Some days I didn't know how many days had passed since I had showered and there were no naps for this mom, even on the nights when it seemed like at least one baby was awake all. night. long.
I had family support, but I needed professional support.
At the time I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a postpartum doula and even if I had known, I don't know if there were any in our area at the time. Had I known and had there been a postpartum doula available, having professional support 2-3 times a week would have been incredible and likely would have transformed the early months of parenting for me. To make it affordable, I could have asked for hours as a shower gift in lieu of the millions of cute outfits that they only were able to wear once.
I thought this is just how parenting is. It's really hard, but everyone before me has gotten through it and I will too. What I didn't know was that with professional support, it doesn't have to be so hard.