What You Need To Know About Postpartum Doulas

I’ve heard it said that life coaches get into their line of work because they are teaching the things that they themselves need. People in wellness landed there because of an illness. Yoga teachers teach yoga because they are the most stressed of us all! Could it be that I love postpartum doula work because it is the exact thing I needed as a new mom? Probably yes.

Postpartum doulas are the unicorns of the birth world that I had never heard of until after my own kids were grown. And that is incredibly unfortunate, because I certainly could have used one! When I think back to my younger self, the empowering and beautiful birth experience I had with Isabelle, I remember how depleted I suddenly felt in those postpartum months. Sure, I had put some meals in the freezer and asked my husband to pick up a few extra chores, but I was missing a key ingredient in the healthy new mama soup- I had forgotten that the new mother too, needs to be mothered. And I didn’t ask for help or even know I needed it. So what happened? A predictable mess of frazzled nerves, meltdowns and a general feeling of being stretched way too thin. We aren’t meant to navigate these waters alone, and although we are lacking the social structure of a tribe-like support system for a new family, we have other options. Enter the postpartum doula!

So what is a postpartum doula?

A postpartum doula is a trained professional who specializes in the months after giving birth. They are an expert in caring for your newborn, creating structures and rhythms for you to build on as you see fit, and they can help you with things like breastfeeding, swaddling, sleeping, etc. Essentially this is a person who comes into your home to fill in any gaps so you can enjoy this fragile and new time. This can look different for every family and what the needs are in any given week or day.

Why do I need a postpartum doula when I can hire a nanny?

There is a big difference between a postpartum doula and a newborn nanny. A nanny can be a wonderful part of your team for strictly taking care of your child or children, and that gives you the space to do the things that you need to do. But a postpartum doula will be filling a different role, and the focus is on the entire family as a unit. While a nanny has their focus on baby, a doula will be looking to you as the birthing person and your needs (mothering the mother or birthing body), the partner and other adults in the house and what their needs may be, and even the other children. The postpartum doula role is about helping all of you to acclimate to this new member of your family, all of your new roles in the family unit, and setting you up for success so you can feel empowered and peaceful about the process. We might do that by cooking and meal prepping, light cleaning, supporting you in your feeding journey whether that be breast or bottle, helping you with sleep, or maybe running you a hot bath while we process your birth experience together. A postpartum doula’s first question when they walk in the door should be “What do you need today?”

Okay, so what does a postpartum do?

This is a great question! And it can be hard to fit into an elevator speech because a postpartum doula can wear so many different hats and do so many things for your family. It is a little bit like staring at a wall of candy in a candy store.. too many options! It is hard to imagine ahead of time how a shift will go with your doula, but it should look something like this.

Your doula will show up to your home sometime after your little nugget is born. If she is me, she will likely show up with presents and a big bag of tricks that includes herbs, teas, baby carriers and various baby gear. She will ask you how you are feeling. How have your nights been? When was the last time you had a good meal or drank water? How is feeding your baby going? Do you need support in any kind of baby care?

Your doula will touch base and start to assess what it is that she thinks you need. She will pick up clues by watching you and your partner and noticing if there are any major changes made to your home since before the baby was born. Then she will ask what your goals are for her shift and together you will come up with some intentions.

From there, it might look like running a bath for you to soak in with your baby while your doula picks up the living room. Or maybe it is a foot massage while giving newborn advice and breastfeeding support. Very often I help families come up with a “weekly rhythm” that we then write down together to help them plan ahead for success. I am also a chef and a yoga teacher, so I like to bring in some meditation to our time together, breathing and connecting as a family, and making sure to leave something in the kitchen for you to enjoy once I’ve left.

As you can see, it is hard to create a solid definition of what a postpartum doula does because she does it all. She is your friend and a professional. An expert and a guide. A space holder and warm hug.

I know you’ve heard the old saying, You can’t pour from an empty cup. Well she is there to fill your cup.

You can check out this post here that might give you some ideas of what to ask your postpartum to do for you if you need some ideas!

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Great! When do I hire a postpartum doula and how do I pick one?

Ideally, hiring your team before the baby is born is a really smart way to go. You want to feel completely comfortable with your doula because she will be coming into one of the most vulnerable times of your life. That being said, there is never any “wrong” time to hire a postpartum doula. Very often families reach out to doulas after they are a few weeks in and realize they need more help than they thought!

You can find doulas through google searches, local doula chapters and recommendations from other birth professionals in your area. Set up consultations and phone calls with several doulas in your area, and at the risk of sounding cheesy, choose with your heart. Pick the doula who is trained, but put most of your focus on how well you click and less on their credentials. As I said, this person is going to be in your space in a beautiful and vulnerable time, and you want to feel completely comfortable.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what a postpartum doula does, what their role is in your postpartum experience and what to expect when hiring one. If you want to check for my availability, please feel free to contact me here!

“There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me—whatever that was—but somebody actually needed me to be that. If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want.” -From Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart

Where in the World is Jasmine? An Update...

   How much can change in a month? Nothing feels the same around here!

   The day after Easter I was expecting a phone call in the morning. It was the hematologist who was going to call with the results from my bone marrow biopsy and blood work.

   When my phone rang I was still sitting in bed, sipping tea. When I answered, the doctor immediately asked me if I was sitting down. Were my kids around? Was I home alone? Did I have support nearby?

   I didn't want to hear anymore after that. I wanted to hang up the phone and resume my normal life. The homechool plans I had for that week and the grocery shopping. I felt a cold sweat break out all over my body and waited for her to say what I now knew she was going to say. I had cancer. And I had to start treatment right away.

   The next few days were terrifying. My diagnosis was Acute Meyloid Leukemia- something I had never heard of before. I wasn't given much information at first except that it is a fast-acting cancer and I needed to have my butt in a hospital bed sooner than later. I couldn't look at my kids without the threat of tears. I looked at the wall and told them to pack a bag- they'd be going to grandma's for a few days.

   I had clients emailing me. Placentas to pick up for encapsulation, a podcast I was going to be interviewed for, potential business opportunities waiting on the sidelines. I didn't know what else to do besides awkwardly email everyone and let them know that I was going to be in the hospital. I didn't know when I'd be out.

   Everything felt surreal. Over the course of a few days I had more procedures and tests done than I had ever had in my entire life. I cried silently when I was told that my IV would be placed directly into my heart.

 

   It has been a little over 6 weeks since those first scary days, and a lot has changed. Externally I am minus 15 pounds and some hair. Internally I could have never anticipated the changes that are continuing to take place. I also could have never anticipated that many of the changes would feel so good! Cancer became my mirror and gave me nowhere to hide. I was forced to shed old habits and beliefs, stare my bullshit in the face and confront the things in my life that were no longer serving me or the people around me. It was an intense process, and one that continues to unfold.

   All of this to say, that if you've noticed my absence, had an email or message go unanswered, or have been curious as to my whereabouts... this is what has been going on! My treatment continues and I will be hospitalized for another extended period of time. I obviously won't be working for the next several months, and I'm already missing it terribly. But I hope to update my blog more often as I find a new sense of normal in all of this.

   If you are local to us, the meal train that has been set up by Phil and Sandrine from Inner Evolution Yoga has been such a blessing for my husband and kids. You can sign up for a day that works for you here.

   And if supporting us financially is available to you, I'm sure you can imagine what that means to us these days. You can donate to us here.

 

   After working through the initial fear of hearing "the C word", I've found myself in a good place. Somehow I've found peace (I'm sure yoga and my meditation practice has something to do with it) and a sense of calm as I navigate this phase of my life. You can follow me on Instagram (@jasmine.rose.doula) where I try to update as often as I'm able to!

Much love to all of you!

xoxo

 

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Everything You Need For A Minimilist & Natural Medicine Cabinet

   The first time my oldest baby got sick I had never felt so helpless. She was tiny and I was brand new at just about everything. I have always leaned toward natural remedies for myself, but when it came to my tiny baby sneezing and burning up with a fever the fear and helplessness was so strong that I was willing to do just about anything to take her pain away. I dosed her with the tylenol that the pediatrician had given me every few hours per the instructions I was given and waited...

   It hadn't occurred to me that I could actually feel empowered and take charge of my family's health. Especially with the pressure and judgement I felt from those around me, "natural remedies" felt a little too uncertain. Until one day I read that tylenol was actually terrible for growing baby brains, and many pediatricians were recommending that parents stop using it completely. And it made me think... why not try to treat my kids with things that have no side effects? Fear had thrown me off my "crunchy" path, but I realized I had missed the mark.

   Now I don't fear illnesses and we rarely get sick to begin with! But I remember the uncertainty and the fear, and it took me years to confidently build our home first-aid kit. So today I am sharing with you the things that I have found to be the most helpful and effective.

   Books

- NATURAL BABY AND CHILD CARE by Lauren Feder, MD

Simple but incredibly effective treatments such as the old-fashioned sounding "wet sock treatment", hot and cold compresses, and easy to understand home remedies are all laid out in this reference book and guide. It has been essential to my family.

- HERBAL FOR THE CHILDBEARING YEAR by Susan Weed

- HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN by Rosemary Gladstar

- HERBAL HEALING FOR MEN by Rosemary Gladstar

The Basics

- MUSLIN CLOTH for compresses

- HOT WATER BOTTLE is an underutilized and effective means of breaking up congestion and treating ailments during a cold or flu

- THERMOMETER for obvious reasons. But don't panic if a higher temperature arises! Fevers can be functional.

- BAND AIDS for the little boo-boo's that just won't stop hurting without a cartoon, colorful bandage

- GAUZE

- MEDICAL TAPE

- WITCH HAZEL

Kitchen Must-Have's

So many natural remedies can be found in the kitchen, and they work! Before you roll your eyes at me, keep these simple things stocked and try them the next time you catch some cooties.

- DESIGNATED BOWL FOR HOT/COLD WATER

- EMPTY GLASS JARS OF VARIOUS SIZES WITH LIDS for herbal decoctions, teas and infusions

- LEMONS speed up healing when ingested, and can be used in a wet sock treatment for fevers or fast recovery

- RAW HONEY

- CAROB is not commonly known as a treatment of illness, but it can be a fast-acting and safe treatment for diarrhea, which can be dangerous for small children because of dehydration

- ONIONS for compresses, fevers and killing bacteria in the air

- POTATOES for coughs and congestion when used as a compress

- GARLIC is an effective and natural antibiotic

- VARIOUS HERBS (see the herbal books for specific herbs to treat everything from fertility issues to headache)

Essential Oils

There is so much information on the internet about using essential oils, that I almost hesitate to try to add to it. They are potent and effective, and a major part of my arsenal.

- LAVENDER is so simple, but so full of uses, it would probably be the oil I would choose if I could only have one. Especially for small children, it can treat everything from cuts and scrapes to fever. Plus, you can't beat that smell.

- LEMON similar to using fresh lemon in a wet sock treatment to speed recovery, lemon essential oil can be used on the bottoms of the feet for faster healing

- PEPPERMINT is a must for nausea. I diffuse peppermint when anyone is feeling queasy and it perks us all up immediately

- ONGUARD is just pure magic. A little goes a long way and it has proven to me time and time again that this is a must for the medicine cabinet. I even used it to successfully treat my mastitis, along with the age-old trick of cabbage leaves in the bra.

To shop oils or sign up for your own wholesale account, you can visit here~

Homeopathic Remedies

I LOVE homeopathic remedies! But they can be a little bit more time-consuming. Meaning, the remedies are very specific, and require you to monitor symptoms carefully so you can choose the right remedy.

This kit is the one I purchased when my kids were little, and it was worth every single penny. It includes a booklet with dosing instructions so there is never any confusion, and the remedies work quickly. They are safe, natural, and they never expire.

Preventative

Part of living a healthy lifestyle is preventing your family from getting sick in the first place. I've had people actually ask me directly how I keep my kids so healthy. It is our daily life habits that keep the cooties away!

- THE FAMILY SMOOTHIE is an easy daily ritual where you can hide all of the crazy powders and foods that your kids normally wouldn't touch. Spirulina, powdered mushrooms, leafy greens, healthy fats and antioxident-packed berries are some of my favorite add-in's.

- PROBIOTICS for the whole family are a supportive daily ritual

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- SO. MUCH. WATER. I am always reminding my kids to drink more fresh water from our Berkey

- MUSHROOMS and mushrooms and more mushrooms. I am a huge fan of Four Sigmatic and their easy to use packets of various superfood mushrooms. I give my kids reishi and chaga mushrooms during cold and flu season

- ELDERBERRIES forever and for always. Depending on my schedule and my mood I toss back and forth between making my own syrup from scratch and buying elderberry sprays and syrups from the store, but we take this daily.

- HERBAL TEA is a daily occurrence in our house. Nettles, red raspberry leaf, chamomile, mint... tea doesn't just taste good, it is plant medicine and I love it

 

 

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3 Things To Have Your Postpartum Doula Do For You Today

It is unfortunate that so many birthing people feel that hiring a postpartum doula is an unnecessary luxury reserved for the elite. It's just not true, and with more families feeling depressed, depleted, run-down and isolated I look forward to the day when most have a postpartum doula the same as most write up a birth plan.

The long-term benefits of having a postpartum doula are immeasurable. The immediate benefits can be seen by the relief on a birthing person's face when they know their doula is showing up on Friday and they will be getting a much needed break and a massage.

If you are unclear about what a postpartum doula is, you can imagine that the same as your birth doula supports and encourages you during labor, a postpartum doula encourages and supports every area of your new life after baby is born. This can look like cooking, cleaning, offering breastfeeding or bottle-feeding support, massage for achy muscles, listening and processing your birth story, brewing supportive herbal teas, filling the bath and holding baby while you soak...

Sound amazing? It's because it is!

I could go on and on writing out the benefits of postpartum doulas and support during the fourth trimester, but I think Kimberly Johnson did an incredible job covering all of the bases in a recent podcast interview with The Birthful Podcast. You can give it a listen here~

I myself did not have a postpartum doula, mostly because I did not know that it was a thing that is available. I heard about these unicorn doulas after my youngest was born, and although I'd had a beautiful and healing birth with Isabelle, I knew there was a lot of room for improvement in the way I cared for myself postpartum. Now postpartum work is some of my favorite work I do! I try to provide everything for my families that I didn't have but wish I did after my own kids were born.

After I had Surro-baby I set myself up for the ultimate stay-cation and fourth trimester laying around to restore my health and well-being. Armed with better knowledge and resources, I knew it would be important for my recovery and that I'd come back healthier and more radiant than ever if I could only take exceptional care of myself in those first weeks after birth. But still, I didn't hire a postpartum doula. I wrongly assumed that because I wouldn't be coming home with a newborn that I wouldn't need one, but looking back and even in the moment, I knew that no mother or family, no matter what their birth or postpartum experience, could ever have too much help. I absolutely would have benefited from a postpartum doula in many ways.

I hope that you are able to invest in your health and long term vitality by hiring a postpartum doula, and when you do, you may want to consider having her do these 3 things~

 

1. Clean Your Bath Tub

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Many postpartum doulas are happy to run you a bath, and will even go the extra mile to fill the tub with herbal brews for healing. I took a bath every night after having my kids because it just felt so good! But I was careful to clean my tub really well before soaking. I didn't want to soak in a dirty bathtub obviously, but there is also the thought that a dirty tub can cause an infection in your very open body. I would rather err on the side of caution and keep it clean~ but who wants to scrub a tub when you are supposed to be relaxing? Even if you aren't planning to take a bath during your postpartum doula's shift, ask her to give it a good cleaning so you can enjoy later.

 

 

2. Prep Healthy Snacks

One of my favorite things in the world is receiving love from others through food. Even having a friend drop off take-out makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and as more and more communities create meal trains for their newborn families, I am happy to see that dinner is very often covered by caring friends and neighbors after having a baby. But have you ever noticed that there is never anything in the fridge to just munch on? Sometimes you want to snack, and as well know, you will reach for what is available. Have a friend or your partner shop for some healthy snack ingredients, and your postpartum doula can prep them for later munching. Think chopped fruits and veggies, protein balls, broths, wraps, etc.

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3. Create Your Happy Spot

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Most likely you will find yourself gravitating to one particular spot in the house after baby is born for feedings, reading, snuggling and just overall comfort. This might be your bed, a cozy corner of the couch, a special chair, or even a little spot on the floor. You might have no anticipated this before the birth, but now it's your throne. You deserve to be surrounded by beauty and it can do wonderful things for your emotional and spiritual well-being to have this space reflect this serene and sacred time you are currently in. Ask your postpartum doula to clean and arrange this space. Set you up with a basket or two of supplies for yourself and baby. Think snacks, drinks, reading material, books, etc. for you and diapers, creams, feeding supplies, etc. for baby. She can arrange flowers, candles, hand lotion and others things nearby to give you something lovely to look at it. This kind of cozy corner is wonderful for everyone, and I find it to be especially comforting for those who are pumping breastmilk. Even if the rest of the house is not as clean or tidy as you like it, it will be okay because this happy spot will be clean and organized just for you.

 

Curious to learn more about hiring a postpartum doula? You can leave a comment below or contact me here! Did your postpartum doula do something for you that you really loved? Tell us below or share with me on Instagram: @jasmine.rose.doula

My 4 Favorite Remedies for Postpartum Hemorrhoids

I was at a workshop all about pelvic floor, geared toward pregnant and postpartum women. As is common for most workshops I have been to, the teacher began our time together with having each person introduce themselves~ their name, where they are in their pregnancy if they are pregnant, and a question: what is your favorite and least favorite thing about pregnancy?

I was just a few months out of my own pregnancy and was finally sitting normally again, so I knew exactly what my least favorite thing about pregnancy would be. I was one of the closest to her, so I spoke before most of the group:

"Hi, my name is Jasmine. I am 3 months postpartum, and I love absolutely everything about pregnancy! My least favorite is definitely hemorrhoids."

All around the room, young women in expensive yoga clothes with tiny little baby bumps raised their eyebrows and looked shocked. Yup. I said it, and anyone who has had more than one child has probably experienced the unmentionable postpartum annoyance that is hemorrhoids.

As we continued introductions around the room it became obvious that as 99% of the women were still pregnant with their first, I'm sure most of them were thinking to themselves, "Sure, that happened to her, but it would never happen to me!"

But here's the thing. It doesn't matter who you are or how expensive your yoga pants are- hemorrhoids don't discriminate. And aside from being unsightly, embarrassing, or whatever else you associate with having hemorrhoids, when you have just given birth to a child and your bits are already pretty sore, hemorrhoids can be downright painful!

If you've got 'em, you want them gone as soon as possible, so I am going to share with you some remedies that are actually effective so you can move on with your life and sit like a normal human being.

A little side not- I didn't get hemorrhoids with my first labor, but I did with the next two. So don't think that just because you escaped the first time that you will be so lucky the next. I recommend being prepared ahead of time because there is just nothing worse than waiting for shipping or making a trip to the store when you are bleeding and your insides are falling out. You want to be home in bed, congratulating yourself on your preparedness and forethought.

Firstly, where do hemorrhoids come from?

The inter-webs will have you believe that hemorrhoids are mostly a result of dehydration, not enough fiber and constipation. Any Google search gives you advice for not straining during a bowel movement, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking more water... all good things. But postpartum hemorrhoids are a little harder to avoid because during a vaginal delivery there is quite a bit of force involved in pushing your baby out. And well... straining is kind of a part of the package. With all of that pressure, the veins in the rectum may become swollen. Sometimes women find themselves pushing for very long periods of time, and hemorrhoids as a result of an extended period of pushing makes sense, but as I said in the beginning, they don't discriminate, because even a quick labor and delivery can cause the uncomfortable little beasts.

Control what you can control and let go of the rest...

Eating a healthy diet during your pregnancy, getting plenty of exercise and keeping hydrated will absolutely help to prevent hemmies as much as you can. Keeping your pelvic floor in tip top shape will also benefit your booty! Make sure to work your pelvic floor correctly and often throughout your pregnancy for an easier delivery and the possibility of lessening your chances of painful hemorrhoids.

Don't panic, here's how to get back to your normal bum as quickly as possible.

1.)  What I am going to share with you are the things that have worked for myself and clients. Not everything will work for you, and some remedies may take a few days, but don't fret! I've had great success with these easy solutions.

My absolute favorite remedy for hemorrhoids might be the most unlikely. It is a tea by Euphoric Herbals called Vascular Toning Tea. Yes, like a tea that you drink! You can check it out here..

Euphoric Herbals is a small company doing big things with herbs. Her teas aren't just tasty- they work! This toning tea is like a miracle in a mug and resolved any issues in just a few days, bringing relief after day 1. (Check out her other blends while you are there for breastfeeding, fertility, and even a tea to help you sleep.)

If you are very desperate or dealing with a particularly painful problem, you can make a compress out of the tea by brewing the tea in a muslin cloth bag, letting the water cool to room temperature, squeezing out some of the liquid and them placing the bag directly on the affected area for a period of time. You may even place the bag in the fridge or freezer to make a cold compress, using the cold temperature to provide relief and lesson inflammation.

 

2.)  Sitz baths are a favorite postpartum for so many reasons! And this is one of them. Make an herbal sitz bath using herbs such as calendula flowers, chickweed, yarrow, comfrey and plantain leaf. You can create a strong brew of the herbs overnight in a large mason jar or two, and pour the liquid directly into your bath. Or, similar to the tea above, you can place the herbs into a tea bag and create a compress.

 

3.)  Earth Mama Angel Baby has done a lot of the hard work for you by creating their postpartum sitz tea bags. I love these for creating a brew to put inside of your peri bottle postpartum, and the soaked tea bags make a great compress, or another strong brew that you can place directly into your bath.

 

4.)  The postpartum poo... bring it up in any mom group and sit back while you listen to story after story and watch the knowing head nods, because we have all been there! The irrational terror of pushing in those first days after giving birth is real, and when you have hemorrhoids... I mean, what are you even supposed to do?! I avoided it as long as physically possible. (They recommend NOT to do that by the way.) But there is an answer to our postpartum woes, and should apparently be decor in every bathroom, because the list of benefits is long. It is the squatty potty! And it need not be an ugly plastic contraption that you are embarrassed for guests to see. This bamboo squatty on Amazon is so pretty and gives your bathroom a spa feel, and it even has a foot massager built in!! (You will never want to leave your porcelain throne.)

 

Hopefully you have the ability to spend most of your time postpartum lying in bed and getting acquainted with your new little babe, so even if hemorrhoids are an issue they can become an after thought. And if you do find yourself plagued with the unmentionable- I'm sending you my love and hopes that these remedies being you relief.

Happy birthing!