In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2016, we are exploring the many ways your doula certification can help new moms reach their breastfeeding goals.
World Breastfeeding Week is a celebration of mothers, babies, and the beautiful bond they share through breastfeeding. Coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), it is celebrated every year during the first week of August. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the goal of World Breastfeeding Week is to “encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.”
Doulas can certainly help with this goal. For new mothers, breastfeeding can feel overwhelming. Particularly in the early days, when it seems that their baby is constantly eating, nursing is often accompanied by many emotional highs and lows. World Breastfeeding Week is the perfect time to explore how you can help new mothers meet their breastfeeding goals when you complete your doula certification from the International Doula Institute (IDI).
Be Her Resource
First of foremost, you’ll need to be knowledgeable about breastfeeding. Although nursing is natural, it’s important to remember that there is a learning curve for mom and baby. Understanding breastfeeding basics such as latching and positions, common problems and solutions, and how to know if baby is getting enough milk, is an essential part of IDI’s doula certification program. We want our doulas to feel confident answering their clients breastfeeding questions, and offering assistance when needed.
Set up “Nursing Stations” Around the House
New moms will be nursing A LOT. Which means that they’ll often be stuck in one spot for long stretches of time. To help make her more comfortable, you can set up “stations” in a few of her favorite nursing spots. Fill a few small baskets with some of her favorite snacks (make sure they’re easy to eat with one hand!), a couple bottles of water, some magazines or books, burp cloths, and a few diapers. Set them within easy reach, and make sure to refill as needed.
Be Prepared with Snacks and Water
While a new mom focuses on making sure her baby is eating enough, part of your job will be to make sure she is eating enough. Remind her to stay hydrated, and offer a glass of water every time she nurses. Aside from the snacks in her basket, you can also bring her other options from the kitchen, such as fresh fruit and veggies. Better yet, you can prepare one of the healthy meals you’ll practice making during your postpartum doula certification.
Show Her Different Positions
As new moms are getting the hang of nursing, it can seem awkward and uncomfortable. You can help them learn different ways to hold the baby and how to strategically position pillows so that they can be as relaxed as possible.
As much as we hope everyone will ease smoothly in nursing, sometimes problems arise. You’ll learn about some common breastfeeding concerns during your doula certification process with the IDI. Help problem-solve when you can, and keep an eye out for anything that may require further attention from the pediatrician or a Lactation Consultant.
Let Her Rest
Breastfeeding is a full time, 24-hour job. And it is exhausting! Allowing your client time to rest will help her feel less overwhelmed. Particularly if you’re working overnight, you can take the baby as soon he or she is finished eating to take over the tasks of burping, diaper changes, and putting the baby back to bed. Meanwhile, mom can enjoy as much sleep as possible during her precious time between feedings.
Encourage Her to Connect with Other Nursing Moms
Be aware of in-person breastfeeding support groups in your area. These groups, often run by Lactation Consultants, are a great way for your clients to connect with other local new moms. Knowing that other people are going through the same thing as them can be hugely reassuring.
Listen to Her
By this, I mean genuinely listening to her concerns and questions, of course. But, there’s more to it than that. Listen to her stories about her childhood. Listen to her talk about her favorite TV shows and activities. Listen to her funny stories about what her baby did that day. During your doula certification with IDI, you’ll learn about the importance of “holding space” for your client, meaning, you don’t always need to be actively doing something. Sometimes, just being there and being a listening ear is enough.
Once you receive your doula certification, you will be in a truly unique position. New mothers can easily feel overwhelmed or isolated during the crucial early days of breastfeeding. You will be there to help assuage their fears and remind them that they’re doing an amazing job.