Originally posted June 2011:
Talking with a postpartum doula friend, I asked how she handles the agenda of visits. She had some great ideas, namely to have the mom decided what her goal is for the visit, but some other tips and things Kit suggested as well. Questions to ask when I arrive:
First, wash hands. Next –
- Ask mom when is the last time you ate? (Prep snack or light meal, get her drink.)
- How did you sleep last night? (Is nap possible in time frame? If not, put feet up and at least rest.)
- Have you showered? Would you like to go take a soak?
- How is nursing going? (Does she need any help, want to try nursing pillows out, etc?)
- Be mindful of cultural issues with modesty as re: nursing.
- Ask for an explanation of any traditions, religious or cultural practices you should be mindful of (especially re: food, if you are preparing some.)
- What are your top three stressors right now? (Are there any I can help fix?)
- What’s your top housekeeping stress? (Is it something I can help with? Fold baby laundry, help prep dinner, wipe down kitchen or bathroom, pick up toys with older kids?)
- When is the last time you left the house? (Want to take walk, run errand, sit in yard?)
- Do the older kids need attention? (Shall I hold baby while you play with them or vice versa?)
- Would you like to talk about your birth experience? (Some moms need a chance to talk it through and process it, whether it was wonderful or challenging.)
- Would you like to try out any of the baby carriers or swaddle blankets?
- Would you like any help with bathing, clipping those tiny fingernails, infant massage, etc?
- What one thing would you like to get accomplished while I’m here?
- Be mindful of postpartum mood/emotions, refer to professional resources if needed.
- Demonstrate to the family how to help “mother the mother” and praise their efforts to do so.
- Before leaving make sure mom is set up with drink, phone nearby, baby in clean diaper, siblings near, and ask if she has any other questions?
Nurturing the Family The Guide for Postpartum Doulas has some really valuable ideas and thought provoking questions for anyone considering becoming a postpartum doula.
Assisting the father:
- Be respectful of his transition to this new role.
- Explain how important his support is to his wife.
- Ask if he has any questions, would he like some instructions or tips, does he need some alone time to practice?
- Offer ways he can nurture the baby: kangaroo care, massage, bathing baby, wearing baby in carrier, burping after mom nurses, talking to baby slowly with eye contact during quiet and active alert time.
- Offer information and hands on instruction as desired.
- Ask about his network and peer or familial support for this transition.
- Respect his parenting philosophies.
- Listen about his concerns, memories of the birth, etc.
- Encourage communication with his partner.
- Express admiration and praise for both of their efforts.