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  • michellehaskellbir

Diving into Postpartum Work

I was so fortunate after my unceremonious entry into motherhood. My husband, Brandon, and I chose to live close to our parents. When we started our family, our parents were standing by, waiting to dive headfirst into the grandparent role. My mother-in-law retired so she could watch our children while we worked, my mom made me “Kennedy-safe” food when I was required to be on a special diet while producing breastmilk for you, and all four grandparents were (and still are) waiting on the edge of their seats, ready to jump in to hang out with our children at every possible opportunity. We have great relationships with our families, so their help and support was frequent and very welcomed.

In our global community, this isn’t so common anymore. Families are spread far apart. Sometimes family dynamics make support impossible. Our chosen families can and do step in, but our society has pushed this narrative of everyone for themselves; we’re in separate silos, all trying to stay afloat. After watching some of my birth families struggle with support in the first months, I realized exactly how lucky I was to have received the support I did. Everyone deserves to feel supported and taken care of after they bring that tiny new human home, and I realized that I could help to fill this gap.

The postpartum doula role is so special. I am invited to support a brand new family unit - often only 1 or 2 days post birth. This is such a vulnerable time to a new mom. She has just given birth. Regardless of how the baby was born, she’s tired and her body is hurting. If she has a partner, they probably haven’t slept much either. They’re both trying to navigate caring for a small, helpless human who can’t effectively communicate their needs. If the family has chosen to breastfeed, they have another massive learning curve to climb. And that’s not even touching the hormonal changes that are happening.

I’m so privileged to be asked to support people during this time, when families are new and raw and vulnerable. My first visit with a new family is often emotional. They often recount their birth stories, or express exhaustion and frustration. We bond immediately, because it’s impossible not to when you’re willing to be truly in a moment with someone. From there, support looks different for different families. Regardless of whether you need me to do some dishes or laundry, hold your baby while you shower, or hold you when you need to be vulnerable, I am here for you.

I like to describe a postpartum doula as your mom, your sister, and your best friend - without any baggage or judgment. I’m here to meet you as you are. I don’t have opinions on your parenting choices. I come with an open mind and resources and support. You don’t need to shower for me - I promise, you’re beautiful in all of your exhausted-new-parent-covered-in-spit-up-and-pee glory. I’m not someone you tidy up the house for; I’m the one who will step in to clear the old take-out boxes off the counter, sweep the crumbs into the garbage, and fold all that baby laundry. I’m here for you - no judgments. Just love and support.

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