Doulas and their Boundaries

My job as a doula is to help you grasp all of this information as best as you can. When you endure a major life event, it affects your ability to remember previous conversations. A doula chimes in and helps you recall your initial expectations, and then gently helps you shift your perspective to the present moment. This is where boundaries play in a doula’s role.

It should go without saying, that a doula’s opinions should not play into any aspect of their client’s birth. As with any boundary, these lines blur depending on the context. I can attest to growing more opinionated as my experience has broadened. My education allows me the ability to offer unique suggestions, but how do we know when to push for a little more effort, or to step aside and allow for the birthing person to make their choice?

I certainly step aside more often than not. Maybe that is where I’m at in my journey, or maybe that is just how birth should be supported. Birth is many things; Strength, vulnerability, shedding of old ways, and transforming into parenthood. Of all those things, I work hard to be empathetic to my client’s needs. I have had moments in which I felt compelled to push. Some clients follow that guidance, while others push back. Either way they are informed of their options. I have even had clients ask me (and partners) to leave. While it may seem like a slight on my skills, it’s truly just what that birthing person needs. The art of “doulaing” requires a person to set aside their pride, and support individuals where they are.

This is definitely a processing point for me as a doula. Was I enough? Could I have advocated more for this? Should I have advised differently? Is this safe for my clients? Just like everyone else caring for these individuals, I have seen birth many times. Our ability to to draw a line can be compromised. Empathetic roles require a high level of self care. When implementing boundaries that allow me a proper amount of self care, I can continue to grow my knowledge, and still be sensitive to my client’s needs.

Like any fiscal position, I have individuals question my value as a caregiver. These boundaries in particular are the groundwork to maintaining my career. This generally takes place in the interviewing process, but sometimes within the early stages of a professional relationship. Questions arise such as, How are you helpful within a planned c-section? What if you aren't available for our birth? These are valid concerns. This is a place where we sort of web all of our boundaries into a safe space, and through contractual agreements. It’s incredibly important that every person involved in this experience feels heard, so that they feel confident in themselves throughout the whole process. This experience will affect every aspect of their parenting relationship, and doulas are very sensitive to that.

Putting it into words almost feels like a juggling act, which is how I imagine most business owners feel, but most especially us empaths.

The Ergonomics of Postpartum Recovery: Babywearing

If you are a returning reader, then you probably have seen my previous series on babywearing. I will be covering a few basics, but mostly focusing on newborn specific info. When we are talking about ergonomics, we are addressing one’s efficiency. So, when we are talking about babywearing in this context, we are looking at it as a tool in making you more efficient.

Babywearing has many benefits. The one that stands out here is the ability to be mobile and hands free. Newborns require a lot of attention. Unlike elephants, human infants rely heavily on their parents to survive the early stages in life. Just like a good swaddle, babies really respond to close knit comforts. If we consider their tiny spaced environment prior to being earth side, it makes sense. Knowing this, it should be no surprise that baby longs to be close to you. There are even greater physiological benefits you can read about in my piece on kangaroo care.

Babywearing has grown in popularity over the years, here in the states. Ancient civilizations have been and continue to practice this in their villages. One of the first things I ask my clients is, “what kind of baby carries did you get?” More times then not, they assemble a handful of carriers new/gently used, brought to them by friends that have seen the benefit in this practice.

Like with all things parenting, babywearing is a learned practice. There are handful of guidelines you should be aware of when deciding what works for you. It's important to remember that you are in recovery, so be sure to clarify any weight restrictions with your physician (this will effect c-section recovery the most). Always make sure to have a partner when trying out new carries. They will be helpful getting baby into your choice sling/carrier, spotting you assuring baby's safety, and then helping adjust the straps so you are comfortable. For more basic safety tips, visit my previous blog series.

 

These would be an example of a more structured carrier. These designs come with specific weight requirements established by the company. (Top Left/Right) Ergo Baby has a universal carrier that can hold between 12-33 lbs. When purchasing for long term use, you will have to purchase and infant insert designed to prop baby higher and closer to the adult. The weight requirements with the infant insert 7-12 lbs.(Bottom Left) Boba has designed a simpler carrier that doesn't require the extra insert, but it would require you to by a newer model as baby grows beyond it's 7-15 lbs weight limit. 

These would be an example of a more structured carrier. These designs come with specific weight requirements established by the company. (Top Left/Right) Ergo Baby has a universal carrier that can hold between 12-33 lbs. When purchasing for long term use, you will have to purchase and infant insert designed to prop baby higher and closer to the adult. The weight requirements with the infant insert 7-12 lbs.(Bottom Left) Boba has designed a simpler carrier that doesn't require the extra insert, but it would require you to by a newer model as baby grows beyond it's 7-15 lbs weight limit. 

Forgive me for the photo quality, it's usually dark quiet time when I have a baby in a sling. These are a few examples of wraps. These are more conducive to a newborns needs, as they facilitate a tight squeeze helping them to feel secure. (Top Left) This is also made by Boba, here I have baby in a cradle hold, giving baby the illusion of being held in someones arms. (Right) This is a Mobi wrap, baby here is in an upright position tummy flat on my chest. I recommend this hold for babies with upset tummies. I also like being able to utilize the soft fabric to brace baby's head in a restful position. (Bottom Left) This is a  Rebozo.  I utilize this as a tool in labor support as well as postpartum. Baby is in an upright hold here as well. These slings require a bit more practice and assistance from another. You will have to learn how wrap these properly on your body, and knot them so as to ensure the safety of your baby. 

Forgive me for the photo quality, it's usually dark quiet time when I have a baby in a sling. These are a few examples of wraps. These are more conducive to a newborns needs, as they facilitate a tight squeeze helping them to feel secure. (Top Left) This is also made by Boba, here I have baby in a cradle hold, giving baby the illusion of being held in someones arms. (Right) This is a Mobi wrap, baby here is in an upright position tummy flat on my chest. I recommend this hold for babies with upset tummies. I also like being able to utilize the soft fabric to brace baby's head in a restful position. (Bottom Left) This is a Rebozo. I utilize this as a tool in labor support as well as postpartum. Baby is in an upright hold here as well. These slings require a bit more practice and assistance from another. You will have to learn how wrap these properly on your body, and knot them so as to ensure the safety of your baby. 

That is all I have for you at this time. Try to be patient with this. Nothing comes easy especially in the early stages, so give yourself some grace. For direct resources on babywearing, visit my final blog entitled Safety Tips!!

The Ergonomics of Postpartum Recovery: Nursing Support

Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, our posture is a factor. You have spent the last nine months supporting a completely different center of gravity, so our tendency to slouch is much greater now. There is an abundance of accessories on the market that you can get to help prop baby up closer to you. More specifically for breastfeeding people a handful of ways you can hold your baby while nursing. A newborn eats a lot, so you will find yourself seated many hours a day feeding your baby. Consider the state of your posture and set up a functional space to support you and your baby. 

 

Start with a decent chair, one with motion. A rocking chair or a glider are the common buy these days. They double as support during the feed, and then can facilitate soothing motion to help calm baby. The exercise ball you may have purchased prior to having baby. This encourages great posture, and is a great tool in soothing baby. The ball does all the work for you, rather than having to bounce your tired body. 

Start with a decent chair, one with motion. A rocking chair or a glider are the common buy these days. They double as support during the feed, and then can facilitate soothing motion to help calm baby. The exercise ball you may have purchased prior to having baby. This encourages great posture, and is a great tool in soothing baby. The ball does all the work for you, rather than having to bounce your tired body. 

A nursing pillow will help prop baby closer to you. These all can be used for both breast and bottle feeding. The Brestfriend has a clasp that you can adjust at any point on your torso, it also has a little pocket you can fit a water bottle, a pacifier, a nipple shield, really anything you have found helpful in your feeds. I included the Hiccapop because it is an awesome edition to propping baby higher, I personally use it on my lap under baby for bottle feeds. It allows for me to sit up straight and props up baby on an angle for feeds. This is really for pregnancy prior to baby's arrival, but I recommend as another full circle tool for both parent and baby. 

A nursing pillow will help prop baby closer to you. These all can be used for both breast and bottle feeding. The Brestfriend has a clasp that you can adjust at any point on your torso, it also has a little pocket you can fit a water bottle, a pacifier, a nipple shield, really anything you have found helpful in your feeds. I included the Hiccapop because it is an awesome edition to propping baby higher, I personally use it on my lap under baby for bottle feeds. It allows for me to sit up straight and props up baby on an angle for feeds. This is really for pregnancy prior to baby's arrival, but I recommend as another full circle tool for both parent and baby. 

Now for nursing positions. These positions above will be the more common holds taught immediately after baby's arrival. The football hold I recommend to larger breasted individuals, or with nipples that angle outwards. Breastfeeding will bring a whole host of new things to understand, and one of those things is the shape and placement of your nipples and how to best facilitate a feed with them.

Now for nursing positions. These positions above will be the more common holds taught immediately after baby's arrival. The football hold I recommend to larger breasted individuals, or with nipples that angle outwards. Breastfeeding will bring a whole host of new things to understand, and one of those things is the shape and placement of your nipples and how to best facilitate a feed with them.

These are some of the more advanced positions for nursing. I recommend the side lying position for parents that are comfortable with co-sleeping. It's a great night time nursing position, as it requires less effort in moving around. The laid back position I recommend to individuals with fast and heavy let down. When a let down is heavy it can cause some discomfort and frustration in feeding to baby. The laid back helps lesson the force of the let down and allows for baby to work the milk out at its own pace.  That twin hold is wonderful once mastered. Twins require an extra set of hands, so a helpful partner is essential in this position. Your nursing staff should be an excellent resource for you in postpartum recovery, but if you still feel like you need help, check out my blog series on   The Importance of Breastfeeding Support.

These are some of the more advanced positions for nursing. I recommend the side lying position for parents that are comfortable with co-sleeping. It's a great night time nursing position, as it requires less effort in moving around. The laid back position I recommend to individuals with fast and heavy let down. When a let down is heavy it can cause some discomfort and frustration in feeding to baby. The laid back helps lesson the force of the let down and allows for baby to work the milk out at its own pace.  That twin hold is wonderful once mastered. Twins require an extra set of hands, so a helpful partner is essential in this position. Your nursing staff should be an excellent resource for you in postpartum recovery, but if you still feel like you need help, check out my blog series on The Importance of Breastfeeding Support.

When it comes down to it, fed is best. There is nothing more natural than a baby communicating it's needs and receiving it. How you choose to nourish your little one is completely up to you, and you should never justify that to anyone.

Next blog I will present the different styles of baby carriers on the market, and how to choose what is best for you. I will also include some  helpful soothing techniques for baby.