Community: Why does it ‘take a village’? And how do I find mine?

Community: Why does it ‘take a village’? And how do I find mine?

Naomi Mendes-Pouget

2021

My Musings... | Postpartum Health and Well-being

Have you heard the saying “it takes a village” around the postpartum period? Have you then thought: “Well that’s cute, butttt it’s 2021 in North America AND we are in the midst of a global pandemic!” I hear you. You’re not alone. It’s hard two-fold: hard for those of us who are used to a very independent way of life in modernized, Western society to identify with ‘village’; AND hard for those of us who DO identify with the ‘village’ concept BUT the pandemic is hitting us hard. 

Current geo-political realities around community and support postpartum

There are societies all around the world who honour and respect the immediate postpartum period as sacred. Wherein the birth parent is surrounded by supportive people who help them restore their vitality, heal, bond with their newborn, and discover their shifted identity, all in a healthy and sacred way.

Unfortunately for us here in North America, this is far from our current reality. Almost EVERY new parent I encounter (who birthed in hospital) feels completely alone as soon as they leave the hospital after birth. There is so little follow up and support. In addition, they tell me there was so little preparation beforehand (we’ve got something good in the works..!). This is one of the flaws of our health system that is failing new parents!! All new parents deserve compassionate support and community around them. The postpartum needs to reclaim its position as a sacred beginning. One to be respected. I am deeply sorry that our system isn’t set up well for you, my love, and just know that it is my life’s work to improve it!

I’ve been learning SO MUCH about community in the past year, and I am SO excited to blog about it this month and even hint at some upcoming goodness here at the Postpartum Nest!!!

I’ve encountered so many clients and new parents who are impacted by the isolation of new parenthood in our society, even WITHOUT a pandemic! Myself included, as I have experienced both realities now.

And then a global pandemic struck…

The pandemic is exacerbating that new parent isolation exponentially, which is the worst. The effects are definitely being felt. If you’re feeling this, know that you are not alone and there are professionals out there who care so much about your well-being and are doing their utmost to help during these hard times and beyond. (Hi!)

More and more people have loved ones that are far away, or who don’t really know how to support a new family, or who are severely restricted by the pandemic. Soon-to-be and new parents just aren’t finding their community!

So, with all this being said, community is DEFINITELY a worthy and pertinent topic to dive into! Read on, beauty.

First, let’s define community.

 

Let’s start off by first tapping into WHAT community is and what makes them successful and an incredible and crucial resource.

Community , as defined by Oxford Languages:

com·mu·ni·ty  /kəˈmyo͞onədē/
noun

1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. 

Both of these definitions work here! For the first one, the characteristic in common is NEW or SOON-TO-BE PARENT.

The second one speaks for itself! You’re looking to have a community that wants to learn how to parent; how to get through the tough times and challenges of parenting; how to find your identity within parenting; and so on. What are your goals? What are YOU looking for in community in this new chapter? This is a fantastic thing to reflect upon.

 

What makes a successful community?

 

Let’s dive further into what makes a community successful, and how this may apply to a community involved in preparing for the postpartum (there may be something in the works here at the Postpartum Nest, hint hint).

1. Being part of something bigger than yourself.

In community, every member contributes, in their own way, to the ultimate goal which is always bigger than one person alone. This is powerful stuff here. The value of the community increases with each member!

2. Working towards a common goal.

This gives each person in the community focus and direction. In a new parent community, the common goal can be the well-being of new parents, healthy infant sleep foundations, breastfeeding success, and so on and on! Refer back to what your goals are as I prompted above!

3. Building skills and mastery.

Do you want to improve your confidence as a new parent? Of course you do! Do you want to improve your skills in caring for yourself and your newborn? Heck yes!!!! And this happens within healthy communities, through the collaboration and contribution and support of the collective.

4. Safety to be vulnerable and navigate challenges.

 

This is a BIG one. In the talks I’ve had with my clients, having this has come up every single time. 

Unfortunately, it’s still a common phenomenon–and human nature–that we judge others when they are different from us. Hello, politics!

It commonly comes down to decisions, I think. We tend to judge other peoples’ DECISIONS. Anndddd guess what? Parenting comes with SO. MANY. DECISIONS!!! That’s why it can be a breeding ground for judgment when we are not intentionally careful, compassionate, empathetic and gentle. Parenting can also be such an emotionally-laden topic, which can also spark people to act out of emotion!

So it is SO so so so SO important that when we are in community with others, especially surrounding parenting, that we make the very conscious decision every time to be very gentle with ourselves and others, making space for each person’s experience to be valid and sacred. Taking a step back and a deep breath if you have an initial knee-jerk response to someone else’s experience. Just as you have your unique experience, so does each and every individual. And it’s not black and white! It is a complex spectrum of experiences that comprise of the range of human experience.

Also, the postpartum can be scary! These little humans we have been waiting for are finally here and vulnerable! The hormones are flying, sleep is elusive, and curveballs come up. It is life-changing to go through it all knowing the people who’ve got your back, safely, compassionately, and gently. 

Now: let’s talk more about the WHY.

 

community is powerful

“Why is community so important in the postpartum period? I’m pretty sure I’ve got this.”

PSA: Love, this is not about doubting that you’ve got this. I KNOW you’ve got this. Seeking community is NOT meant to be a blow to your ego. So often we take it as one, though. Not everything is about us and our failings!  So, let’s reframe and explore in more detail why you will WANT to find your community(ies), ASAP. Even if you’re a lone wolf like me! Everyone can benefit from community.

Humans need human connection to survive, let alone thrive.

 

It is a legitimate biological need for animals, and we are not exempt from this phenomenon! And I’m not one to contest the science 🙂

Serotonin and oxytocin hormones are involved in increased trustworthiness, formation and protection of bonds, and decreased quarrelsomeness.*

Our biology is programmed for social interaction! The lack or disruption in these hormones can often be linked with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, which commonly disrupt social behaviours even further–bleh! Please know that this is common and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! Speak with your professionals ASAP about how to regulate those hormones, even if you’re feeling alright! Knowledge and preparation are powerful!

*Source: Young, Simon N. “The neurobiology of human social behaviour: an important but neglected topic.” Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience : JPN vol. 33,5 (2008): 391-2.

Why do we think we are superhuman? Or: “Nope, I actually don’t got this!!!”

 

Again, human egos are such an interesting thing. We all want to be amazing superheroes. At some point, we all try to convince ourselves and others that we are capable of everything and anything. 

That harsh, striving, perfectionist energy is exhausting, babe. Wouldn’t you agree? 

Can we just vulnerably and honestly declare that NO, WE DON’T GOT THIS!?!?!?! At least not all the time. 

Parenting can be flipping tough!! It is a journey, and along the way we WILL come up against challenges that we actually don’t know how to approach, let alone solve. 

You’re probably thinking of an influencer on social media who legitimately is a superhero unicorn of a perfect mom who has all her shit together all of the time and her home is perfect and her hair is perfect and her skin is perfect and she exercises and juices and has a perfect child(ren)………

WHEW. Social media, am I right?!

Whoever you may have pictured in your head, I’m willing to bet that:

a) They get PAID good money to be an influencer, and

b) They have a TEAM/COMMUNITY of people helping them achieve a brand image!!!!

If you do NOT have a) or b) in YOUR parenting life, then please don’t compare apples to oranges :). That’s like saying “I know how to do basic first aid, so then I should be able to perform surgery like a doctor!” RIGHT?!?!

Love, it is OKAY and actually phenomenally empowering to ditch perfectionism and shame and admit our flaws and shortcomings and challenges! It’s actually in the imperfection that we can connect to one another through flawed human experience and vulnerability. 

Remember point 4? Community is meant to be that safe place you can turn to when, you know, you’re an actual human being and not a superhero.

Yes, hard shite is gonna come up.

 

Hey, I’m in the business of NOT pulling wool over your eyes. I’m here to do the opposite of keep you in the dark. I’m here to educate, empower and inform.

I usually try to do so gently, but in this case, this is just a universal truth: parenting has its challenges. Let me repeat that: PARENTING IS NOT EASY. It is an extremely powerful and rewarding life experience, but it ain’t an easy road. If you are a parent, wouldn’t you agree?

So why is this important? Well, when sh*t is tough, when we need support to get through the hard stuff, is exactly when community reveals its true power.

When you’re part of a healthy, caring, and thriving community, no matter the size, you can rest assured that you are going to be okay, no matter what.

There are people that will catch you if you fall.

There will be people to help you answer your tough questions when you just can’t find an answer on your own.

There will be someone who can empathize with you and maybe show you you are not alone.

There will be someone to help you see something differently.

This is a magical phenomenon that showcases just how powerful community is. And along the way at some point, you WILL be willing and ready to do the same for your compassionate community members who need it and who may have helped you or the collective!

Remember point 1 at the beginning? When you’re in community, you are part of something bigger than yourself. Find solace and relief in that. You aren’t alone, and you don’t have to have it all figured out on your own.

Pro tip: Asking for help can actually deepen your connection with a person.

 

When I first read this, I think in the book “Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, my mind was BLOWN. I had never thought of it this way!

Growing up I, as I’m sure many were, was taught that asking for help is an imposition. A burden. An inconvenience. A display of lack. Weakness.

When I recently learned that actually it can be an opportunity to actually connect deeper with someone who cares about me, that was an a-ha moment!

Think about it! In the past, when you have been in gratitude for the help someone has offered you, or the support, hasn’t it deepened your relationship with that person? Hasn’t someone been grateful that you asked THEM for help out of everyone else you could’ve asked? As human beings, we actually love helping others and feeling important. SO COOL, right?! Remember, we love to feel like superheroes!!

After all, that’s kind of how we make friends, right? We support one another, and it builds the bond. We develop trust. We feel safe. 

Same thing happens in community! Gratitude, trust, and safety can strengthen the connections within it. 

It’s an incredible feedback loop that I will GLADLY take part in.

After all, we are all in this humanity thing together. Let’s be vulnerable, brave, and connected.

There will most probably be an opportunity in the future to pay it forward.

 

Like I’ve mentioned above: hard sh*t will happen. To EVERYONE.

So if your storm was last week, you better believe that it will ravage someone else’s life at some point too! 

The great thing about a great community is that you will actually be PUMPED to help someone else out when they need it and you have the capacity and energy! How do I know? Because you are invested in this community. Everyone in the community is invested in each other, and–you guessed it– something BIGGER THAN THEMSELVES.

So cool.

Annnnnndd because you freaking deserve it.

I’m actually going to make this brief:

You deserve to feel supported, held, heard, and loved.

End of story 🙂

HOW do I find my ‘village’? My community? Who are they?

 

Let’s start by breaking your community down into 3 main categories.

 

They are:

– Personal support,

– Professional support, and

– Focus groups & free resources.

 

Personal support

 

It is SO important, when you consider which personal supports you want around you (ie. partner, friends, family, etc.), to focus on this main pillar: 

They WANT to help YOU, and they have YOUR best interest in mind.

Notice how I didn’t set a rigid box around who these people should be, ie. mother, sister, aunt?

And notice how I didn’t focus on the baby(ies)? That’s right. In order for your baby to thrive, YOU have to thrive FIRST. You are the focus.

It’s up to you and so empowering to do some reflecting upon who actually will help you and have your best interests in mind. That can look differently for every person. YOU can decide who surrounds you in your sacred postpartum period.

This could be someone you’ve known your whole life, or it could be a new mom friend you met last month at prenatal yoga and you both feel a connection.

It’s also important that your people be as NONJUDGMENTAL as possible. And keep unsolicited advice at bay and help you figure things out your own way. Remember what we said about safety! It’s crucial that you feel safe.

Next, you should reflect upon how this specific person can help you, SPECIFICALLY. 

Can your sister order takeout to your house from Alberta even though she can’t physically be here?

Can you move around money and resources so that your partner can take a healthy amount of time off work to spend the fourth trimester with their family? (Think it over before you scoff!)

Can your aunt call you to check up on you once a week because she is a FANTASTIC and empathetic listener? 

Can that new mom friend from yoga be a person you can text in the middle of the night when the babe just won’t go to sleep, for solidarity?

Write. It. All. Down. Brainstorm the people you want in your corner, ESPECIALLY when things get tough. That’s the important part. Because many people can be around when the going is great, but which people will be there for you supporting you when you are ugly crying, unshowered, and ready to give up?

And then, act! Ask these people if they are agreeable with your ideas, or if they have anything they can add!! 

If they WANT to help YOU, and they have YOUR best interest in mind, they will be thrilled to know that you trust them and that you want them around in some capacity. 

Professional supports

 

This is where the pros come in. You most likely pay them, for a specific service (or they’re covered by insurance).

Write every professional down that you ALREADY have in your circle. Such as:

– your primary healthcare provider through pregnancy (ie. midwife, OB)

– any type of body worker or physical therapist

– your doulas (Hi!)

– your mental health therapist/psych

– your naturopath

– your childcare

– your home support staff

– etc..

Then, reflect upon what other services/ professionals you would LOVE to have in your corner. A biggie: an IBCLC (lactation consultant!) A chiropractor! Massage therapist! Infant sleep consultant! Pelvic floor therapist! Brainstorm ALLLLL that good stuff, love!!!

Write their contact info down all in one place. Trust me, your postpartum foggy brain will appreciate it!

Next–you guessed it– act! With the professionals you already see, ASK them questions about HOW they can support you postpartum. Be specific. Make sure your health and well-being needs will be met.

With the professionals on your wishlist, go forth! Search around, get quotes, get recommendations, ask your other professionals for referrals; and don’t be afraid to interview them!

You. Deserve. The. BEST!!! Don’t let society’s overall lack of respect for the postpartum make you think otherwise or doubt your worthiness. Instead of focusing only on the support and community you NEED, expand your mind to also seek out the support you WANT.

Here’s a possible mental reframe: Instead of looking at how you can get by with the LEAST amount of investing in support that you may be okay without; focus on how you can have the best supported experience possible, even if at times it feels like luxury, THEN figure out how you’ll fund that vision. I’ll say it again and shout it from the rooftops: YOU DESERVE IT! Do you know how hard you’ll work for your family and baby(ies)? For you to be well and cared for is of utmost importance to the whole picture.

Even if you never end up using a specific service, having the professionals already in your back pocket is a GAME CHANGER in the postpartum. Again, your foggy brain will thank you, and finding a great professional when you’re in the thick of things can be time-consuming, tiring and hard. Not to mention, it may be reactive instead of proactive support.

It is worth the effort to find professionals that you connect with and that you enjoy working with, wherever you can. This will make your postpartum experience SO much more enjoyable!

There are so many professionals out there that are so ready and excited to support you. You just have to seek them out. Contact us if you’re ready for our support as part of YOUR community.

Focus Groups and Free Community Resources

 

Not all support is either personal or paid out of pocket. 

Take some time to look around for groups around you. For example, I live in Hamilton and I love that there is a bumping “Moms Hamilton” online group for mamas in the hammer. Not your jam? Keep looking for your people online. If a group doesn’t exist, maybe you can make one! 

Another great free resource is Postpartum Support International. Their website is chock full of resources, education, and they also host a phone & text line for support (1-800-944-4773).

There are a plethora of free community resources available to you. Again, you just have to find out what they are, preferably BEFORE you are in the thick of it. And this is definitely something we can help you with here at the Postpartum Nest!

Ask your healthcare provider if they have any recommendations, and actually check out the pamphlets, posters, and ads in their office!!

So, let’s expand our perception of ‘village’ and be open to community, shall we?

 

My dear love, I hope this blog post has sparked something for you. This topic sure has lit a fire inside of me, that’s for sure!

That’s why I’ve got something fantastic in the works here at the Postpartum Nest. I am SO freaking excited for its launch. 

Are you ready to connect? To find YOUR village? 

Wanna be the first to hear what it is I’m developing? I bet you do! (No one likes being the last to know…!) 

Subscribe to our email list, and you will be the first to find out! There may or may not be perks associated with that……

It’s also a really fun place and community in itself!

P.S Upon subscribing, you’ll also receive my awesome FREE Guide: “Three Essentials for a Better Postpartum Experience”. Yay!

 

I’LL SEE YOU THERE!! And thank you SO much for reading this blog post.

Lastly before you go: let’s talk! Comment below with WHO was or will be in YOUR postpartum community!?

 

I LOVE YOU!

 

Xo Naomi

 

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Helping families have the supported
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Want to Touch Base?

Have you heard of Elimination Communication?

Have you heard of Elimination Communication?

blog title: "Have you heard of Elimination Communication? Here's Our Story"

Naomi Mendes-Pouget

2021

Baby Love | My Musings...

Note: there are links to some products in this post, but I am not (yet) a paid affiliate!

Photos of us: Erika Matkovich.

First things first… What is Elimination Communication?

 

Have you heard of Elimination Communication? It’s not very well-known, what with the READY access to diapers.

And don’t get me wrong here– DIAPERS ARE FANTASTIC. I definitely use them. We can talk about diapers ‘till the cows come home. Cloth, disposable, YOU name it! (Future blog post…Hint hint)

But this blog post isn’t about diapers, it’s about Elimination Communication! Sometimes affectionately known as EC.

Elimination Communication is the process of reading your babe’s cues (communication) for needing to eliminate waste (elimination). Then empowering them to eliminate somewhat independently. Most commonly, heading to the toilet, potty, basin, or sink or other location with them to do their doody. When they’re a bit older, they’ll be heading to the potty on their own.

Sounds cool, right?

While my babe was a newborn, I decided the method was NOT for me. For some it is! Which I can definitely appreciate.

Our journey with Elimination Communication naturally and spontaneously started later, around the 6-month mark. More on my story later.

 

What to look for with Elimination Communication

 

The biggest piece of the puzzle with a young babe or toddler is reading their cues and patterns and acting accordingly.


This can look like babe standing still, isolating themselves in a corner or secluded place, specific postures, specific voice sounds, facial expressions, after mealtime pattern, or time of day pattern.

 

How to doo-doo Elimination Communication! Hehe.

 

First of all, it is important to know that I am NOT an expert on this topic.

From the limited research I’ve done, I can tell you that there are SO MANY WAYS to do Elimination Communication, and that it is COMPLETELY dependent on you and your family. You have a say. It can be flexible.

Know that it is NOT all or nothing.

Whatever image you may have in your head about poop and pee on the carpets– it is not necessarily that.

I’ll tell you what it currently looks like for us.

How we started Elimination Communication

 

Our Story

 

Elimination Communication naturally came up in our lives after we started introducing solid foods to our little one. So maybe around the 6-month mark.

As with so many babes, the transition to solid foods can vastly change the digestive system and flora of the gut, as well as the consistency and contents of the stool. It’s an important life milestone! Hurray for blueberry-stained cheeks!!!

For our little, her stools became a little hard to pass. At some point, she suffered a little fissure (tear) where you definitely WOULDN’T want one. Ouch.

As such, passing became harder for her due to the pain, and the consistency. We felt awful and followed up with our doc and a pediatrician about it as soon as we could.

I DIGRESS.

 

We naturally came to Elimination Communication…

…when she began to more obviously communicate when she was trying to pass. She was definitely notifying us with her vocal sounds. And her posture.

So, for me especially, it felt instinctual in the moment to take her to the toilet. I had the thought, and I just did it. It felt a little radical, but I thought why NOT try it?

When it worked, I felt really good about it.

FOR ME, it felt like I respected her dignity. Like I acknowledged her communication and acted on it. The thought of letting her go where I go, instead of in her diaper, just felt right to me.

Now please, for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE do not take this as a judgment.

It is not.

It’s my family’s story, and it’s a way to share another perspective and option.

For us, amidst a pandemic, it was– and continues to be– feasible. So we’re just going with it!

 

Correct me if I’m wrong folks, but is this stuff taught in prenatal classes? Honestly, you can do anything. Let your instincts guide you. If it doesn’t work for you you can always re-assess!

How Elimination Communication is going for us

 

So we are now part-time ECers. Who woulda thunkit!! I didn’t plan it. But that’s kinda our parenting style… We are very go-with-the-flow. And then we try to stay consistent, until the flow changes again.

This blogpost sponsored by Covid-19, ha. Being at home all the time due to the pandemic just made Elimination Communication a more feasible option and reality for us. It just became what we do. Part of our daily normal.

She notifies us of when she needs to go #2, and we take her to the toilet. Sometimes we make it there, sometimes we don’t and the diaper catches it.

We bought THIS toilet seat adapter for tiny bums, and it supports her well. Not gonna lie, I was kinda terrified of dropping her in before getting this thing!

I’m not sure yet what the next step for us is. Now that she is mobile, we are thinking of making a stool for her to climb up to the toilet on her own. Let’s see if that independence inspires and works for her!

So, why might Elimination Communication be something to consider?


Actual Benefits of Elimination Communication:

1. Natural

It was a natural reality before disposable diapers and delayed potty training vastly changed societal norms. So there is some merit to its effectiveness!

 

2. Generates no landfill or ocean waste

This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s an unfortunate reality right now that disposable diapers end up in landfills and even oceans. I know it sucks, but I gotta tell the truth here!

 

3. Very cost-effective

In comparison to disposable diapers, it is nearly free. You may opt to purchase training underwear, some cloth diapers, or the like, but the costs are much lower.

 

elimination communication is great for the environment


Potential Benefits of Elimination Communication:

1. May reduce risk of UTIs

No trapped urine= less risk of bacterial growth and infection.

 

2. May prevent skin and soft tissue infections

Bender and She (2017) found a correlation between disposable diapers and MRSA skin and soft tissue infections. They recommend one way to prevent these is to avoid disposable diapers. However, these infections ARE treatable (ie. don’t panic).

 

3. Better communication with your babe

I am a huge proponent of communication. The awareness and responsiveness of babe’s cues is a bonding, nurturing and communicative experience. You are communicating your care of them, and they are communicating their needs with you.

 

4. Better awareness of bladder, with more complete emptying

This helps on the journey towards toilet independence. If it can help make potty training easier in the future, that’s a win right?

 

5. Babe may learn to walk more naturally without thick padding between legs

Again, resist your urge to panic here. I am NOT here to cause alarm. Babe will walk just fine. This is just one potential added benefit!

 

The Pandemic Environment May Make it More Feasible

 
There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed how we live our lives. MOST of us are home much more than we used to be. (I see you and honour you, essential workers and health care workers to whom this doesn’t apply).

With this shift, attempting Elimination Communication, even if very casually, may be more feasible. You may find yourself needing the convenience of disposable diapers a little less. You may be more okay with some ‘misses’. (If not, that’s totally fine).
If this is you, and you’ve got less to worry about, why not give it a go if you’re interested in it!?

 

It May Line Up With Your Parenting Values

 

Especially for my readers who are environmentally-conscious parents, child-centered parents, montessori parents, and attachment parents… Elimination Communication MAY be something you’d consider adding to your arsenal. Your babe’s arse will thank you. HA.

And NEVER forget: as your Postpartum & Infant Care Doula, I will support you no matter what elimination methods you choose! 

 

So, my love, let’s talk: Have you tried it? Will you? HELLZ NO? I want to hear ALL your thoughts about this month’s blog on Elimination Communication. Comment below!!!!  

Lots of love,  

Naomi

 

References:

Bender, J. M., & She, R. C. (2017). Elimination communication: Diaper-Free in America. Pediatrics, 140(1). doi:10.1542/peds.2017-0398

Olson, A. (2020, August 24). Elimination communication 101: A complete introduction to pottying your baby. Retrieved February 14, 2021, from https://godiaperfree.com/elimination-communication/

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“Naomi saved us! We had twins and really needed sleep. She gave us a break! She was/is kind, caring, compassionate, and understanding. We felt very comfortable leaving our boys with her which is rare, given we are new parents. She exceeded our expectations tenfold! My husband, myself, and our two boys love her!” – A.F.

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Ready to join OUR group of happy clients?
Let's Plan for Your postpartum!

my mission

Helping families have the supported
and transformative post-birth period that they deserve.

Imagine: You're in a pitch black room, and you know there is a door somewhere in that room. That door symbolizes sanity and wellness post-birth. Eventually, by feeling around, you will find the door-- despite obstacles along the way. I believe in you. But imagine how much easier it would be to find the door if there was a little candle by the door, guiding you and making you feel a little less lost and disoriented, and more confident.

That's what a having a Postpartum Doula is like.

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Why You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

Why You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

Naomi Mendes-Pouget

2020

My Musings... | Perinatal Resources | Postpartum Health and Well-being

Because of pelvic floor physiotherapy I no longer pee when I sneeze.

 

You know I’m always going to keep it real with you, dearest reader! Being a life-giver has real affects on this body–we’re not robots nor elastic bands that just ‘snap back’ into place after 9+ months of growing and shifting. Remember that.

In a bit I will welcome guest writer Rabia Mirza, Registered Physiotherapist including Pelvic Floor and Certified Personal Trainer, to tell us exactly why we NEED to be caring more about our pelvic floor health. She is an expert! But first, allow me to tell you my story.

Now let me backtrack a bit here…

…I actually started going to pelvic floor physiotherapy DURING pregnancy.

 

That’s right! Even before the peeing-in-my-pants thing. I was having a pretty ‘normal’ pregnancy. Radical eh, seeking healthcare proactively?! I know. We’re not really taught that we can–and I’d argue should–do that! At least I wasn’t.

If you’re thinking you don’t need to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist because you don’t have symptoms… I will argue that if you have a growing baby inside your uterus–putting weight and strain on your pelvic floor because *gravity*– you should see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. And of course, it goes without saying that if you DO have symptoms…definitely make an appointment, love! Read on to hear more about this from a professional shortly.

Back in university when I was studying midwifery, I was lucky enough to have a guest lecture about the importance of pelvic floor health (and thus physiotherapy), so I was already familiar with this concept.

Seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist during pregnancy can help on so many levels, namely the 4 P’s: Preventative, Physical exercise, Pain, and Preparation for labour.

Wow! (Source: https://westendmamas.ca/benefits-pelvic-floor-physiotherapy-pregnancy/)

Shortly Rabia will go through some of the juicy details and benefits of pelvic floor physiotherapy, and you can also visit the link above to learn more. But seeing the physiotherapist in pregnancy got me feeling in control of my present and future health, and even potential outcomes (to *some* extent!). 

Me in my ninth month of pregnancy.

 It was so empowering to proactively care for my health and well-being, with a provider who *THRIVES* off of seeing birthers be proactive.

 

My physiotherapist taught me how to effectively BREATHE (again: wow! I didn’t realize how much of an effect the way I breathe has on my pelvic floor health!). She also taught me how to make that breath-pelvic floor connection stronger in my body and mind. Prenatal yoga was also wonderful for this.

And you know those ‘Kegels’ that everyone talks about? Well I could trust my pelvic floor physiotherapist to teach me how to do those, EFFECTIVELY. This helped me later on in pregnancy when I did experience some of those embarrassing (but common!) symptoms like losing control of my bladder.

In my labour and birth, pelvic floor physiotherapy had prepared me and my body for what was to come.

 

That awesome breath-pelvic floor awareness I had built prenatally through my pelvic floor physiotherapy sessions truly helped me in labour. It taught me how to be aware of the tension I was holding in my pelvic floor, and how to release it. That ultimately played a role in helping me shorten my labour and meet my baby sooner! What a true gift.

 

Pelvic floor physiotherapy in the postpartum period: my experience

After the birth, there was some injury sustained to my urethra area (and I say that in the most loving way… I didn’t expect immaculate birth!). My pelvic floor and core muscles also felt very wobbly and weak. Makes sense–everything was shifted around and there was no longer a giant uterus balloon taking up a bunch of space and putting pressure on everything! Aaaaand I pushed a baby out of me.

Going back to pelvic floor physiotherapy regularly, after the first six weeks I took to heal on my own, was something I looked forward to. Again, I was taking my health seriously. Especially since our society teaches people with female reproductive organs to stay in the dark and in shame about it. 

Now, since I had been taught how to do Kegel exercises effectively PREnatally…

 

…They were now easier to do POSTnatally, despite things feeling rather wonky and weak down there. It would have been like trying to learn how to play tennis with a limp arm, I think! This way I had some muscle memory to help me.

My pelvic floor physiotherapist, who happens to be Rabia, also kept me very in the loop with exactly what exercises I could and should be engaging in, and how to engage the core properly during every day movements (like picking up my baby) to avoid accidental further damage (I had some abdominal separation). 

P.S – If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this vulnerable and intimate photo of myself in the very first hour after my homebirth… It’s to bravely show you what is within the realm of normal. We never get to see and so we never get to know! It’s important to me that I can share and educate about birth and postpartum. Birth is a normal process.

Here’s yet another benefit: improvement of sex after baby.

 

Yes, I said it! I noticed in the postpartum that my vaginal muscles were holding a LOT of tension, therefore causing pain upon insertion. #SorryNotSorry #AllForTheCause #KnowledgeIsPower. So that was another thing that the pelvic floor physiotherapist really helped release and work through.

Rabia really helped my core heal properly. She was so in-tune with the connective tissue and how it was very sticky and jumbled up (my interpretation). She did physical therapy to help it un-stick, and that felt so good afterwards. Additionally, she offered me acupuncture to also help with core healing.

So, my dear and lovely reader, that’s my story. What you’ve just read highlights why I am such a die-hard advocate of pelvic floor physiotherapy from pregnancy through the postpartum. 

Fun fact: Did you know that in France, pelvic floor physiotherapy is one of the cornerstones of postnatal care?

 

The government subsidizes it for new parents. We are waaaaay behind!! As a result, way too many people think that peeing when they sneeze is just the new normal and sacrifice you make as a parent. I say HOGWASH! And now that you’re reading this blogpost, hopefully you’ll call BS too!

So without further ado, it is my HONOUR to introduce Rabia Mirza, one of the two amazing pelvic floor physiotherapists that have cared for me in the past year. She currently works out of Upper James Physiotherapy in Hamilton, and also has a clinic space in Mississauga! Rabia is passionate about body and pelvic floor optimal health, and does great work in increasing public awareness of pelvic floor health. She is here today to talk about postpartum pelvic floor physiotherapy. Take it away, Rabia! And thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and knowledge here.

What is postpartum pelvic floor physiotherapy? 

 

Postpartum pelvic floor physiotherapy is a branch of physiotherapy specifically for the needs and concerns of postpartum women. And when I say postpartum women I mean moms in general, there is no time exception for what we consider postpartum!

Our role in your postpartum journey is to make sure that all your needs concerning your pelvic floor are being addressed and cared for. The pelvic floor has a role in bladder, bowel, sexual and functioning and also has implications for low back and pelvic pain.

A pelvic floor examination involves a detailed subjective history and an internal examination of the pelvic floor muscles. After the examination we develop a plan including manual internal therapy, kegel exercises, core exercises and self-management techniques for home.

What happens to the pelvic floor with pregnancy and childbirth?

 

The greatest changes occur at the pelvic floor during pregnancy and especially during labour. With pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles are forced to take on more of a load with the growing baby in the uterus and the relaxation of the pelvic bones as your body prepares for childbirth. Sometimes this increased load weakens the pelvic floor muscles and you develop symptoms including pelvic pressure, groin and low back pain, and sometimes urine leakage with sneezing and coughing.  During labour, the pelvic floor muscles act as a gateway and often get injured and torn in the process. The tearing of these muscles should be thought of as a tear in any other muscle in the body, physiotherapy is required for optimal healing!

Although C-section deliveries often don’t cause tearing at the pelvic floor muscles, the accompanying scar at the lower abdomen requires optimal healing and movement. This scar has implications for pelvic and abdominal pain and often requires mobilization.

Do I need postpartum pelvic floor physiotherapy?

 

The short answer is YES. Even if you aren’t having any symptoms it is still imperative to make sure the pelvic floor muscles are healing optimally. It is also important to check on the pelvic floor and core muscles before returning to exercise to ensure a healthy and safe return to activity.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, pelvic floor physiotherapy is for you!

  • Urinary leakage (incontinence) with sneezing, coughing, laughing, jumping
  • Vaginal discomfort or pressure
  • Pelvic, groin, or low back pain
  • Overactive bladder
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Pain or pressure with exercise
  • Diastasis recti (ab separation)
  • C-section scar

 

Where can I go to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist?

 

To book an appointment with me you can visit Upper James Physio. We offer 1 hour initial assessments and 45 minute follow-up appointments. If you’re not in the Hamilton area I would recommend searching for a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist online. Because pelvic floor is a speciality, not all physio clinics offer this service. Take charge of your postpartum healing and book in an appointment. 

Final thoughts…

 

Thank you so much, Rabia, for lending your expertise!

 

Dear reader, we want to know: Did you know about pelvic floor physiotherapy? Have you had pelvic floor physiotherapy? How was your experience? Drop a comment below, let’s start a conversation about this important facet of health!

 

MUCH LOVE,
XO Naomi & Rabia

 

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"We couldn't have gotten through..."

“We have three kids who were all under 2.5 years old during our time with the Doula. Naomi worked through the night a couple nights per week to give my husband and I some rest, as we had toddler twins and the newborn to look after through the day. We couldn’t have gotten through the days without the rest we got at night thanks to Naomi!” -B.F.

"We felt very comfortable..."

“Naomi saved us! We had twins and really needed sleep. She gave us a break! She was/is kind, caring, compassionate, and understanding. We felt very comfortable leaving our boys with her which is rare, given we are new parents. She exceeded our expectations tenfold! My husband, myself, and our two boys love her!” – A.F.

"Having her serene presence and focus on me, the mom,..."

“…reminding me to hydrate; listening; trying to find some solutions; was very soothing, and the other kids also felt more cared for, I believe. For a third time mom, it’s so much more about the other children… It’s so difficult to find time for myself, whilst having to take care of a newborn and worrying if the older ones will be a little left behind… no mom of more than one would enjoy the pampering and the attention and care if she felt not all the children were being looked after. So when Naomi minded them, it was bliss. In this context, not usually having the time for myself, the nutrition part was especially important. I was constantly reminded that for the family to be well, I had to prioritize my own wellbeing.” – M.B.

my mission

Helping new families have a supported and  transformative post-birth period.

Imagine: You’re in a pitch black room, and you know there is a door somewhere in that room. That door symbolizes sanity and wellness post-birth. Eventually, by feeling around, you will find the door– despite obstacles along the way. I believe in you. But imagine how much easier it would be to find the door if there was a little candle by the door, guiding you and making you feel a little less lost and disoriented, and more confident. That’s what a having a Postpartum Doula is like.

Book an appointment with The Postpartum Nest using SetMore

Get In Touch

   Want to Touch Base?

Have You Considered This for Baby’s First Bath?

Have You Considered This for Baby’s First Bath?

Naomi Mendes-Pouget

2020

Baby Love | My Musings... | Postpartum Health and Well-being

Note: there are links to some products in this post, but I am not a paid affiliate!

Also: some photos courtesy of Erika Matkovich.

My baby’s first bath was one to remember…

 

…in the best ways possible. I want to share my experience with you.

Bubs was two or three days old. Tiny little thing! And so brand new.

Indeed, it was time to bathe her, and I had thought about what I wanted to do for baby’s first bath a little bit beforehand. All I needed was the help of my Postpartum Doula to make it as close to perfect as I dare go.

I wanted baby’s first bath to be a family bath.

Yes. You read that correctly.

Thanks to my larger sized bathtub, I wanted to take my immediate postpartum body, baby, and spouse–our new trio–into the bathtub together. (And with the supervision of our cat Daisy, of course!)

 

Our family’s awesome ‘baby’s first bath’ experience

 

Ain’t no new parent got energy for showering!

 

Undeniably, in the first few days postpartum, I–and my body–were exhausted. I certainly did NOT have the energy to a) stand up in the shower and wash myself, or b) bathe Bubs!

Now this was obviously a dilemma, because I didn’t want to miss baby’s first bath!

So I followed my instinct and decided that the family bath would be a great solution.

And–spoiler alert– it was!

Our amazing Postpartum Doula got it all set up for us, and even took some great pictures of the scene, too.

Candles were lit, twinkle lights were illuminated, post-birth healing bath salts & herbs from New Life Co. (online shop coming in 2021!) were dissolving and steeping in the warm water, towels were laid out… it was a magical, spa-like scene.

Gimme allllll the oxytocin!

 

As I stepped into the water, it surrounded me like a hug. Instant relief. As far as post-birth recovery goes, it was exactly what I needed. My achy joints, bones, and muscles breathed a deep sigh of relief. My tired mind relaxed. Bliss.

And then my hunnie joined in with me. I was pretty comfortable naked, and he put on swim shorts. Doulas are supportive of postpartum bodies, so I felt free around our Doula.

She then brought bubs in– stripped down and ready to have their first bathing experience after coming out from her aqueous womb.

The Doula placed bubs in my arms, and I brought her down onto my chest. Honestly, it reminded me of the moment at birth where she also was placed on my chest. That’s how blissful the moment was.

Hunnie and I alternated pouring warm water on her small, wrinkly back. Clearly, she was feeding off of my relaxation, because she was SO CALM! She pretty much fell asleep on my chest, in that warm place that would remind her of her previous home. Yes, she was home.

While we relaxed and bonded as a new family, our Doula offered to take photos. What a gift that was. She captured these precious moments that left such an impression on me. They are beautiful photos, wouldn’t you agree? 

Following your instincts

 

After minutes of relaxing, as newborns do, bubs got hungry. Hmmm, should we get out? But it’s still so cozy in here and I’m waaaay too relaxed!

You guessed it: I breastfed her right there in the bath.

Correct me if I’m wrong folks, but is this stuff taught in prenatal classes? Honestly, you can do anything. Let your instincts guide you. If it doesn’t work, you’ll learn for next time!

Bubs fed happily, and I got to relax even further, thanks to the hormones oxytocin and prolactin surging through me. And following my instincts on this added a coin to the new parent confidence jar. Maybe I can do this.

Potentially setting the stage for calmer baths?

 

Now this part is pure speculation; but my baby loves baths.

Could it be?

Could it be that that first experience really set the tone for a secure attachment to water out here?

I don’t know, and I never will. But isn’t it a lovely thought, nonetheless?

I will honour myself and keep this thought and experience close to my heart forever.

Before my cheesiness nauseates you, let me tell you how this blissful baby’s first bath experience ended…

Hunnie was holding bubs on his chest for a little while after the feed, and — she pooped on him! It was honestly HILARIOUS. A natural and memorable ending to a natural and memorable experience!

Don’t let that turn you off, though. He showered off and all was well. We had an amazing laugh about it. Our Doula grabbed bubs into her towel, and we hopped out.

Is baby’s first bath a source of anxiety for you? You’re not alone!

 

Keep calm and carry on

 

If you have anxiety surrounding baby’s first bath, I’m here to validate that and say that’s COMPLETELY NORMAL, and super common.

Like a lot of things as a new parent, I find that a ‘fake it ’til you make it’ approach works quite well! Meaning, if you don’t feel confident, trudge on as best as you can anyways and pretend you’re confident! That will achieve 2 things:

a) it will get you through the initial nerves until the confidence can fester on its own and you get the hang of things, and

b) it might assure your baby that you’ve got them and there won’t be as much outward nervousness for them to feed off of.

With all this being said, if you’re dreading or just not looking forward to baby’s first bath, please call me and we can work it out together!

Do not hesitate to ask for help; your nerves will thank you for it! Like I said before, a lot of folks find baby’s first bath anxiety-provoking.

 

That being said…

 

 … Babies are resilient! Even newborns!

 

Yes they might cry, but don’t assume you’re scarring them for life (I know, easier said than done). It’s their way of communicating! Maybe they don’t feel like being naked at that moment. Maybe the water is a bit of a shock they weren’t expecting. Maybe they have no idea what’s going on and it’s confusing! Maybe the water is too warm or too cold and they are telling you about it.

Point is: if they cry, it could be a million things. Maybe the water is making them miss the womb! Maybe the lights are bright. Maybe they’re hungry.

But guess what: there’s not always a fix, although I know we desperately wish there could be. Your babe will be okay. Even if the baby does slip out of your hands (which probably rarely ever happens but it’s a common fear), you will pick them right back up and all will be well. They are resilient creatures! They’ve worked hard to get here; they’re not going to let one bath ruin them, if you’re right there with them.

 

So…

 

…Have faith.

 

Give yourself credit, for you too have grown so much in becoming a parent already, even though you feel like it’s the very beginning. In a way it is, but in another you’ve been at it for MONTHS already! Have faith in your instincts and abilities.

And if you need help, I’m here for you and ready for you.

 

“But Naomi, how can I have faith if I don’t even know what to do?”

 

I’ve got you. Read on, my friend.

 

Guidelines & Considerations for baby’s first bath

 

Safety first: do not leave your baby unattended in the bath at all! If you need to leave the room for some reason, wrap baby up in a towel and take them with you.

 

If you’re “sponge bathing”, here’s how to:

 

  • Try to warm up the room. You can do this by running a hot shower for a few minutes, or grab a space heater.

 

  • Have a change pad or small basin for baby, a small bowl of lukewarm water, a couple washcloths, some baby soap, baby shampoo, a scalp massage pad, and an extra towel or small blanket on hand.

 

  • Spread out a change pad and cover that with a towel to catch any rogue fluids. You could also rest baby in a small basin. As you begin washing one part of your newborn’s body, you could keep the other parts of their body nice and warm by covering them with the other towel or blanket.

 

  • Clean one of your baby’s eyes with a fresh, damp soft cloth. Repeat with other eye and with fresh cloth. Continue to clean the rest of your baby’s face. You do not need soap to do this.

 

  • Wash the rest of baby’s body with mild soap lathered on a soft washcloth. Clean under all your babe’s body creases and folds, such as in their neck, under their armpits, and behind their ears. Wash the diaper area last (unless they had a poopsplosion then you might wanna take care of that first!?). There is no need to clean any of your baby’s inner orifices, such as inside their ears, because they are self-cleaning. Make sure to rinse off any body areas that you cleaned with soap.

 

  • Shampoo your babe’s hair (if they have any) once or twice a week at most. To do this, cradle baby with your arm in a football hold, with your hand supporting their head. Hold their head over the sink and use your hand or a cup to gently run lukewarm water over their head, away from eyes. Add a small amount of baby shampoo onto the scalp massage pad and massage baby’s scalp (this may help prevent/manage cradle cap), rinse well, and towel dry right away.

 

  • When your baby’s sponge bath is done, wrap them up in a towel and pat them dry. They’re so darn cute all wrapped up!

 

References: AboutKidsHealth

 

Which bath products are right for your family?

 

Yes, with babies, the more natural the better. But please don’t take that as a cue for guilt if you’re not using handmade all-natural soaps and shampoos made with all organic ingredients.

 

Look at your budget, then look at the ingredient list (unless your paediatrician has specific recommendations). Babes will be just fine! There are good affordable options available.

 

If you are interested in affordable, handmade, natural products, the other small company I’ve co-founded called New Life Co. sells a natural, gentle soap that we love using with our babe (and one bar lasts months!!). They are also coming out soon with a natural body butter that is wonderful on babe’s skin too after the bath.

The online shop is coming in 2021, thank you for your understanding! If you are interested, please email me at naomi@postpartumnest.com

 

What about that precious umbilical cord stump?

 

The umbilical cord stump will fall off on its own between 5 and 15 days after birth. Keeping it clean and dry is the main recommendation to prevent infection.

 

Especially if you choose the family bath route, just make sure to dry the area well afterwards by gently patting it dry with a clean, dry cloth.

 

A good tip as well is to fold the front of the baby’s diapers down to prevent it from rubbing and iritating the umbilical area.

 

Furthermore, you can wash your hands before and after diaper changes and baby baths.

 

Choose loose-fitting clothing to allow air flow to the stump.

 

Avoid using antiseptic on the stump, as it can kill good bacteria that actually helps with the healing process.

 

Reference: BabyCentre UK

 

Baby hair and scalp care

 

As mentioned earlier, baby’s hair can be washed once–twice max–per week. This to prevent it getting stripped and damaged!

 

I also mentioned shampooing with the scalp massager. Using it is a way to stimulate the scalp and rub off skin flakes (which is commonly associated with cradle cap or eczema). Talk to your babe’s healthcare provider (HCP) for more information on scalp conditions. The massager also works up a nice lather with the shampoo.

 

If baby does get a scalp condition, again talk to your baby’s HCP about actions you can take if necessary. You can ask them about massaging the baby’s head with a gentle oil. New Life Co. sells one but you could also use an oil from your pantry. Just so you know, cradle cap is common: it affects 10% of infants up to the ages of 1 month, and 70% by 3 months of age.

 

Reference: Parents.com 

 

Temperatures: cozy but not toasty!

 

Babies are sensitive to temperatures! The goals are to minimize heat loss and to prevent burning. Test the water with your wrist instead of hands (the wrist is more sensitive), or use a bath thermometer and look for 37-38 degrees Celsius.

 

You can also try to keep the room warm while you bathe the baby, if possible.

 

Whew you did it! No, you don’t need to do that every day. Unless you really want to!

 

For more information on baby bath safety, here is an article from BabyCentre.ca.

 

 

Perhaps my favourite part: how your Postpartum Doula can help!

 

1. One word: fa-cil-i-tation. AKA make everything go smoother

 

When you’re exhausted, hormonal, and sensitive like in the immediate postpartum, sometimes someone there to help out and make things go smoother can be worth their weight in gold. Doing anything while exhausted is a lot more difficult! Especially if it’s something brand new, like bathing a newborn.

Your Postpartum Doula can be that person who, without judgment, will help in any way possible to make things go smoothly and easily. No questions asked. Your Doula doesn’t want to see you push yourself any harder than you absolutely need to in those early days.

Let me set everything up, brew you a tea, grab anything you need, take the baby so you can dry off, and empty the tub and clean up afterwards. Or bathe babe myself! whatever you need.

2. Capture those precious memories (even if it wasn’t exactly peaceful!)

 

Speaking from experience here– it is SO nice to have pictures that someone else took of your family in a special moment! Baby’s first bath can be one of those special moments that would only be captured by someone else, because your hands will be wet and occupied! And babies grow so fast; you’ll treasure those pictures as a brand new family.

 

3. Bathe baby while you do something nice for yourself

 

You do a lot for your baby– they are demanding! It is so crucial to keep yourself on the priority list too. Trust me on this, self-care is NOT frivolous or selfish. If your cup is more full, you will have more to give to your family, too, and generally feel happier and more able to cope. That’s important with a newborn around, as well as hormone fluctuations, and sleep deprivation.

Maybe bathing babe is something I can take off your list that day so that you can do something nice for yourself with those extra precious moments. That would be my pleasure!

 

In conclusion: YOU’VE GOT THIS!

 

I hope this post has helped you feel jazzed up about baby’s first bath. Remember to (try to) enjoy the process (if circumstances allow). If not, call me in and I’d be happy to assist!

Book a discovery call here to discuss how I can help your family.

And it would make my day if you shared this post with anyone you know who’s expecting their babe any day now or just had them!

And lastly, I want to know: how did baby’s first bath go for you!? Drop a comment below!

 

MUCH LOVE,
XO Naomi

 

 

 

You May Also Like…

Newsletter

Sign-up to hear more from me

"We couldn't have gotten through..."

“We have three kids who were all under 2.5 years old during our time with the Doula. Naomi worked through the night a couple nights per week to give my husband and I some rest, as we had toddler twins and the newborn to look after through the day. We couldn’t have gotten through the days without the rest we got at night thanks to Naomi!” -B.F.

"We felt very comfortable..."

“Naomi saved us! We had twins and really needed sleep. She gave us a break! She was/is kind, caring, compassionate, and understanding. We felt very comfortable leaving our boys with her which is rare, given we are new parents. She exceeded our expectations tenfold! My husband, myself, and our two boys love her!” – A.F.

"Having her serene presence and focus on me, the mom,..."

“…reminding me to hydrate; listening; trying to find some solutions; was very soothing, and the other kids also felt more cared for, I believe. For a third time mom, it’s so much more about the other children… It’s so difficult to find time for myself, whilst having to take care of a newborn and worrying if the older ones will be a little left behind… no mom of more than one would enjoy the pampering and the attention and care if she felt not all the children were being looked after. So when Naomi minded them, it was bliss. In this context, not usually having the time for myself, the nutrition part was especially important. I was constantly reminded that for the family to be well, I had to prioritize my own wellbeing.” – M.B.

my mission

Helping new families have a supported and  transformative post-birth period.

Imagine: You’re in a pitch black room, and you know there is a door somewhere in that room. That door symbolizes sanity and wellness post-birth. Eventually, by feeling around, you will find the door– despite obstacles along the way. I believe in you. But imagine how much easier it would be to find the door if there was a little candle by the door, guiding you and making you feel a little less lost and disoriented, and more confident. That’s what a having a Postpartum Doula is like.

Book an appointment with The Postpartum Nest using SetMore

Get In Touch

   Want to Touch Base?

Do I Need a Postpartum Doula and a Midwife?

Do I Need a Postpartum Doula and a Midwife?

Do I Need a Postpartum Doula and a Midwife?

2020

doula | midwife | postpartum | postpartum doula

(TL;DR : Yes, yes you do need a Postpartum Doula and a Midwife. They are different.)

I get it: the birth & new parenthood world can feel like a completely different universe. It can be new and confusing. SO MANY NEW WORDS!! There is lots to learn. I hear you. So if I can help clear something up for you then that makes me very happy.

If you’re here, I’ll assume for now that the terms ‘Doula’ (in this case, Postpartum Doula) and ‘Midwife’ are causing some confusion. THAT’S PERFECTLY OKAY! In fact, I’ll discuss below why it may be COMMON to mix the two up.

Luckily, I have experience as both a Student Midwife and as a Postpartum Doula! Both professionals are wonderful, complementary, and are well worth your time learning about and considering.

I’ve also invited a great friend of mine, Vishali, who is a new Registered Midwife (RM) as a guest on this post, to also share her expertise on the subject. Welcome, Vishali!

Disclaimer: this is not a definitive or exhaustive comparison of the two professions. Just some main points we’ve come up with.

midwives-and-doulas-are-different

Why do a Postpartum Doula and a Midwife Sometimes get Mixed Up?

 

Great question. There are a few similarities, along with history, that Doulas and Midwives share.

  • Doulas and Midwives tend to be natural-focused. Meaning, they view birth and the postpartum as natural, normal processes that ought to be complemented with holistic, nature-based and gentle approaches whenever possible.  *This is trend, not a rule*
  • Doulas and Midwives are experts in NORMAL.
  • Doulas and Midwives have been around for centuries! H(er)storically, A woman well-versed in perinatal health and wellness would typically support the women of their community in the perinatal year and in female sexual health matters. Generally, the female elders and relatives would typically tend to the mother in similar capacities in which a Postpartum Doula does today (with exceptions). Often the Midwife would embody the work/care of a Postpartum Doula as well. 

See? You’re not alone or crazy for getting the two mixed up. In fact, it shows that the herstory of caring for perinatal persons isn’t forgotten! Yay. Now, let’s come back to the present and explore what makes them different professions nowadays (in the Ontario, Canada context!)

 

What Does a Midwife do that a Postpartum Doula does Not?

  With GREAT pleasure I’ve invited Vishali Arumugam RM, a Registered Midwife from Durham-Markham Midwives, as a guest to shed some expertise here, and she has graciously agreed! Vishali studied Kinesiology and Health Sciences at York University, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in 2010. She then went on to study the rigourous Midwifery program at Ryerson University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Health Sciences in Midwifery after four years of full-time studies. Her journey to become a midwife was inspired by her ancestor in India who was a midwife. Vishali graduated from the Midwifery program in 2019 and is now a midwife with Durham-Markham Midwives. Welcome, Vishali!

Vishali:

Thank you for asking me to talk about midwifery in your blog post! Midwives are primary health care providers specialized in low-risk pregnancy and birth. We have four years of university education during which 2.5 years is focused on rigorous clinical training, almost like a medical residency. We are publicly funded through OHIP and are regulated by the College of Midwives of Ontario. Midwives provide care to pregnant people in antepartum, intrapartum and 6 weeks postpartum.

Antepartum:

 
  • We see people in clinic for the regular pregnancy check-ups.
  • Order blood work and ultrasound necessary to monitoring both the mother’s and the fetal wellbeing.
  • Have informed choice discussions with the parents so they are able to make the right decision about the care in pregnancy and their birth plan.
  • Prescribe medications for urinary or vaginal infections and nausea/vomiting.
  • Consult with obstetricians if any complications arise in pregnancy.

Intrapartum:

 
  • Assess the women either at home or at hospital in early labour
  • Deliver baby either at the hospital we have privileges in or at the comfort of their own home (We always carry all the necessary birth equipment and emergency medication in our car )
  • We are certified in Neonatal resuscitation (NRP) in case a baby is born with difficulties breathing.
  • We consult with obstetrician if the woman requires assistance with delivery through vacuum, forceps or c-section. 

Postpartum:

 
  • We see mom and baby 2-3 times at home within the first week of delivery to ensure the dyad are stable, healing well, support with breastfeeding and monitor newborn for issues like dehydration, jaundice and extreme weight loss.
  • We then see mom and baby at the clinic at 2, 4 and 6 weeks from delivery to ensure mom is recovering and coping well emotionally, baby is gaining well and answer any concerns parents might have.
  • Monitor moms for postpartum depression and connect them to the right resources.
  • Prescribe medication for nipple pain, breast infection, milk supply and oral thrush
  • We consult appropriately with either lactation consultants or paediatricians if there are any concerns with baby’s weight gain or health.

Closing Comparisons:

 

Unfortunately, midwifery care ends after 6 weeks postpartum and our clients are discharged back to their family physicians and paediatricians. However, you can choose how long you would like support from your postpartum doula.

Although midwives come to your house few times within the first week of delivery, we are unable to spend more then an hour since we are providing care for about 120 clients per year who all need our time to either attend their labour or antepartum concerns. So we prioritize this hour to ensure you and baby are clinically stable. Postpartum doulas are experts in providing support for new moms who are transitioning into motherhood and learning to keep up with the demands of feeding their newborns every 2-3hrs while lacking sleep. They can especially be helpful on days where baby will be cluster feeding (constantly latched on to mom) when they are going through growth spurt (this can happen every 3-4days in the first 2 weeks).

    Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights, Vishali! My dearest reader, if you have any questions for Vishali please pop them in the comments at the end of the post!
midwives-do-home-visits

What a Postpartum Doula Has that a Midwife Does Not

 

Postpartum Doulas are set up to have more time with you

 

The biggest difference, in my opinion, is TIME. Postpartum Doulas work with their clients to determine exactly what the client wants and needs, and what kind of support will work for the family. The client dictates the time committment. The Postpartum Doula’s scope and number of clients are smaller than a midwife’s, thus we are able to commit more time to each client.

 

And that’s an intentional difference! Remember, Midwives are health care providers. They make sure you and babe are healthy. Doulas want to make sure you feel supported. That typically takes more time!

 

For example, Postpartum Doulas can do light chores around the house. You will probably have a list ready of ways we can support you, and it’ll take some time to get that done for you, and we are MORE THAN HAPPY to. Please do not expect this from your midwife at their postpartum visits!!!!

 

Postpartum Doulas are hired to make space for you and your family to do the things that will make you feel good. Space and time are one in the same.

 

Postpartum Doulas have more freedom in what they offer and how

 

In Ontario, Postpartum Doulas are not regulated, and are privately funded. (Sometimes Postpartum Doulas are available through charitable and community organizations.) Thus, our scope extends beyond the 6 weeks postpartum of midwives. And each Postpartum Doula’s time scope may be different. At The Postpartum Nest, our time scope is 6 months postpartum. But if you need support and you are more than 6 months postpartum, feel free to contact us and we can still connect you.

 

Also, since Postpartum Doulas aren’t regulated by the government of Ontario (yet), there is more liberty in the services each Postpartum Doula can offer their clients. Each Postpartum Doula has complete autonomy over their business and services! Thus, it makes it easier for you, the client, to find a Postpartum Doula that meets you and your family’s needs. Yay!

 

Postpartum Doulas are an addition to your support circle

 

Postpartum Doulas are not an either/or professional; they are an AND. Meaning, they are an addition to your support team/circle for the postpartum, and it does not exclude you from being able to access any other service. (Remember when I/Vishali explained that you can either have a Midwife OR an MD as your/baby’s health care during the first 6 weeks (unless it’s a consultation).)

The Postpartum Nest Advocates for Babywearing!

In Sum, You Should Have a Postpartum Doula AND a Midwife

 

In sum, the KEY takeaway I want you to have here is: Midwives are great. Postpartum Doulas are great. They are different professionals. The best case scenario is having BOTH! You can do that! And, I’ll argue till the end of my days, you should (and I DON’T usually use that ‘s’ word).

 

Midwives and Postpartum Doulas are complementary to each other.  Both will hopefully and probably be fierce advocates for you. Happily, Midwives are covered by the Ministry of Health (Ontario). However, Doulas are not, but maybe one day? Who knows. It would definitely improve maternal mental health outcomes in Ontario, even Canada, but that’s a discussion for another day!

 

Next Steps:

 

Look into midwives in your area and see if they might be a good fit as your perinatal primary health care provider. They are experts in normal pregnancy, birth, and postpartum health for you and your growing babe(s). If you need help finding a midwife, I might be able to help! Let me know.

 

And do yourself and your family a massive favour and invest in a Postpartum Doula! Ready? Book an appointment for a free discovery call with us today to continue the conversation. And share this blog post with someone else who you think should know about Midwives and Postpartum Doulas!

 

Thanks so much for reading!

 

Xo Naomi

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Helping new families have a supported and  transformative post-birth period.

Imagine: You’re in a pitch black room, and you know there is a door somewhere in that room. That door symbolizes sanity and wellness post-birth. Eventually, by feeling around, you will find the door– despite obstacles along the way. I believe in you. But imagine how much easier it would be to find the door if there was a little candle by the door, guiding you and making you feel a little less lost and disoriented, and more confident. That’s what a having a Postpartum Doula is like.

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