For many mothers, maternity leave ends way too soon. You can utilize your doula training to help ease their transition back to work.
After your doula training is completed, you may find yourself working with moms who are struggling with the idea returning to work. While sorting out details prenatally, the standard-issue six weeks of maternity leave may seem like a lot of time. But, after having a baby, that time is gone in the blink of an eye.
Recently, NPR’s All Things Considered broadcast an audio diary from new mom Tricia Olson, 32, of Rock Springs, WY. She talked about her first few days home with her newborn, Gus, and what it was like to return to work after only three weeks of leave. Her first day involved a lot of coffee, and a lot of tissues.
An article published in conjunction with the broadcast went on to explore why maternity leave in the US falls so far behind the rest of the world. Out of the 193 nations in the UN, the US is one of only 8 that does not offer paid leave. This puts new mothers in a very difficult spot. Like Olson, many return to work before they feel like they’re ready.
When it’s time to return to work, a new mom may still be physically recovering. She may just be starting to feel like she’s climbing out of the “newborn fog” and getting the hang of taking care of her baby. Transitioning back to work can feel like an abrupt change of pace. This, unfortunately, is the climate the in the US for the foreseeable future.
Here’s how you can utilize your doula training to help make the transition easier.
Let Her Get Some Sleep
It’s hard to get motivated to get up and out the door when you’ve been awake all night with your baby. When you finish your doula training, working overnight will be one of the most valuable services you can offer you clients. Getting to work and getting through the day will seem like less of an insurmountable task when your client knows that you’ll be there to help them a good night’s rest.
Help Her Get Organized
It will take some trial and error for a new mom to get into her new routine. You can help get her organized ahead of time and streamline the process. If she is breastfeeding, make sure she’s comfortable with using her pump and knows how to store her breastmilk. Help get the baby’s gear packed up and ready to go. Make sure she has her own gear packed, and remember to suggest things like a framed photo of her baby, extra nursing pads, and lots of snacks.
Prep Meals and Snacks
You’ll learn about healthy, nourishing postpartum foods during your doula training. With this knowledge, you can help prepare and freeze meals ahead of time. Your clients can these for easy dinners and lunches. Pre-cut veggies and fruit, cube some cheese, or portion out other healthy foods, like nuts, so she has snacks that are easy to grab and pack.
Assist with Finding Child Care
Finding quality childcare can be one of the most overwhelming parts of returning to work. New mothers might want help from you, their trusted source, when weighing their options. During your doula training, you’ll learn that networking and knowing about local resources is of the utmost importance. This includes childcare options in your area. Alternately, as you grow and expand your business, you may opt to offer Nanny Sourcing services.
Listen to Her and Validate her Feelings
I’m going to break the proverbial doula “third wall” and admit that this one is very personal for me. I was back to work less than two months after both of my children were born. The bills have to get paid, after all. It was easily one of the hardest parts of my postpartum experience. In fact, when I initially heard Olson’s story on NPR, I was moved to tears. I could tacitly remember what I was feeling during my first days back in the office after having my first son. And, unfortunately, I also remember receiving very little empathy. In turn, I ended up feeling guilty that I couldn’t just suck it up and deal with it.
All that to say, returning to work can be an emotionally fraught time. Unless a woman is working with someone who has also recently given birth, she may not get the validation and empathy that she needs. With your doula training, you can help fill that void. A new mom needs to have the safe space to say “this is hard” or “I wish I didn’t have to do this” without being made to feel bad about it. She also needs someone to gently remind her that it will get a little easier every day.