The 4th Trimester, life with a newborn – Postnatal Doula Support

Caroline Barber
Written by Caroline Barber

When you bring your newborn home, what happens next?

There is usually a flurry of phone calls, Skype dates, deliveries, visitors and sometimes an abundance of flowers and food. Gosh, what a treat! If only you weren’t recovering from a major life event, bleeding heavily, trying to establish feeding, and caring for a new, tiny, helpless person!

Your partner will be around, and will try to help you, but partners don’t always know the help you want or need. Your mum might be there, or even your in-laws, but again, this sort of help can sometimes be fraught with other things!

I have been a Postnatal Doula for a lady, with her second child, as her experiences after having her first baby were tough. This time around, she wanted to find the help she needed. Last time, her father-in-law-painted her living room while she was labouring, he thought that would be a “helpful-thing-to-do”, bless him. #lessthanhelpfulthanks

What will the 4th trimester bring?

So, realistically, what do you need when you have had your baby, what will the 4th trimester, that is, life with a newborn, bring?

The genuine truth is, in terms of stuff and things, you actually need very little. You will need a washing machine in good working order, some baby clothes,  a way of moving the baby (so either a buggy or a sling/carrier), some nappies (either disposable or washable), water and cotton wool, and somewhere to put the baby safely at home. You may or may not need a moses basket or cot, as you may decide to co-sleep for awhile. You may or may not need a breast pump and lots of bottles, let’s work on establishing breastfeeding before we give up altogether.

In this period, there will be some sleep, some feeding, some eating, some nappies and some crying.

For the new parents, they will need good food to nourish themselves, especially mum, and they will need support in their new role. They may need to be protected a bit from lingering well-wishers, and the lovely postman. They need to spend time growing as a family, resting and laying-in together. They all need to recover from birth, they need to rest and be pampered in some ways.

Who can help you during this time?

A postnatal doula offers guidance, support and encouragement with the care of a newborn and the care of new parents. This includes emotional support for both parents, including self-care and tips for adjusting to their new roles. Support will be provided around baby care, so this including bathing, nappies, baby massage, feeding, soothing and sleeping.

A big part of the doula role is to help with breastfeeding support, getting feeding comfortably established, and ensuring both mother and baby are nourished.

Doula support can include meal preparation, grocery shopping, light errands, some household chores, providing information and education on infant development, and knowing what other specialist help and resources are available if needed. Doulas also provide speciality support for women recovering from birth, for second, third or subsequent babies, for multiples, for babies with special needs – whatever you need, a postnatal doula can help.

A doula may also help with older siblings, either practically, or advise on how to help them manage emotionally. This can be a tricky time for them too, they were once the focus, and they no longer are the main event.

Above all, a postnatal doula’s presence will provide calm, reassurance, confidence and perspective to new parents during the wonderful 4th trimester.