We were recently hired by a family who knew they would want overnight help from a postpartum doula during their hospital stay after the birth. After the baby was born, they wanted the father to be able to sleep at home with their four-year-old son, but the mother didn’t want to be alone in the hospital. Of course, one option would be to send the newborn to the nursery for the night. However, more and more new parents are choosing to “room in” with their babies.
Expectant parents are learning in their childbirth education classes that rooming in with their newborn or newborns can be good for bonding, for the breastfeeding relationship, if that is a goal of theirs, and for having involvement and a “say-so” over what newborn procedures get done (and when and where). In fact, hospitals with the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation are tasked with encouraging new parents not to rely too heavily on the nursery – although that initiative has been criticized for demanding too much of exhausted, healing mothers who may just need a few hours to recover without being startled awake by every peep the newborn makes. (From “Behind the Baby-Friendly Hospital Practice That Not All Moms Love,” The Huffington Post). Obviously, most people desire a balance between opportunities to bond with their baby and their own needs for rest and recovery. This balance may look different from couple to couple.
The mother who hired us for postpartum doula support to begin in the hospital remembers, from when her first baby was born, how many endless disruptions there were overnight in the hospital in addition to her baby’s needs. If the baby wasn’t waking her for a feeding, a nurse was coming in with her pain killers (post c-section), or to give a sponge bath (at 4am!) or to take the baby’s vitals. In our fatigue and fog after childbirth and delivery, and in the newness of the hospital setting, we often don’t realize we have some choice in these matters, or we don’t feel we can tackle the logistics to make for as peaceful a night as possible. (Like, please don’t come in to offer me orange juice and new towels if I am not already awake for crying out loud – literally, I will cry out loud).
Let’s face it – the first few nights with our new babies are eye-opening (when we most wish to close them), sometimes a shock to the system (why is he awake again!?), and vulnerable (is their anyone in this entire building who has not seen my bare nipples!!?) Having someone lend a hand, give a breastfeeding tip… and maybe gently request that the nurse come back a little later because mom and baby just drifted off to sleep… can make all the difference. Packing up to head home a little less sleep deprived, a little less overwhelmed… and with the knowledge that your doula is just a text or a phone call away when you’re ready for more support – well, isn’t that the least we can do to get families off on the right foot?
We now offer gift certificates if that peace of mind is something you’d like to gift to a loved one.