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3 Ways a Postpartum Doula Can Help

Find out if you should consider hiring a postpartum doula

3 Ways a Postpartum Doula Can Help

You’ve just given birth, now what? Maybe you took the newborn class, maybe you didn’t. It doesn’t matter because either way, life as you know it has turned upside down and inside out. Leaky nipples and all, you have to figure out what to do with this tiny human. That’s what postpartum doulas are for, and here are 3 major ways they can help. Because even in this independence prized world, you will need help, and there is no shame in that!

  1. To figure out breastfeeding. One of the primary ways postpartum doulas help new parents is by providing lactation support. In fact, the term doula was originally coined in Greece to refer to the women who attended new mothers at home after giving birth as a standard of care, specifically to support them with breastfeeding.Nowadays, most postpartum doulas are also certified lactation counselors.Yodas of the postpartum experience, doulas know that with a little education and non-judgmental support, the path to breastfeeding can be successful for most mother-babies. Often times, all it takes is a small adjustment to smooth out the learning curve. It certainly helps to have someone around who believes in you, not just the voice in your head telling you how terrible you are at this and you’ll never get it!

  1. To smooth out the learning curve. Beyond lactation, the work of postpartum doulas eases the unnerving transition from feeling like you swear you once knew something about something, to feeling like you know nothing about anything! Granted, as new parents, there’s a ridiculous amount to learn. Learning to understand your baby’s cues is one of the big ones. Hunger, tiredness, gassiness. Each one is discernible, but it helps to have an experienced care provider around to help you translate until you become fluent in your baby’s mother tongue.Learning what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to your newborn can also feel amazingly reassuring when you’re feeling so unsure about everything. The number one job of a postpartum doula is to be a source of education and reassurance, says Ruth Callahan, a DONA certified postpartum doula and founder of the postpartum doula agency Doula Care in NYC. You'll actually start to see what's going well and just how much you're getting right!

  1. To empower you as a mother. Wait, you thought they were going to do it for you? Postpartum doulas are of course there to lighten the load and fill in the gaps. They’ll always offer an extra pair of hands for holding your baby so you can shower or take a nap. They’ll change diapers, give a bottle, tidy up your space and even cook for you. But more than taking over your duties by doing everything for you, they’ll help you learn how to troubleshoot and master those duties yourself!How to swaddle your baby, wear your baby, soothe your baby? How to do all three at once? Postpartum doulas are trained in the old adage “give a man a fish and feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” Postpartum doulas empower their clients to feel the confidence, competence, and self-assurance you get when you learn how to do something for yourself. They are purveyors of the belief that you can do it, a more than welcome notion when you’re a new parent!Understandably, the first weeks and months with a newborn can feel overwhelming. You’ve not only just given birth to a baby, but you are continuing to give birth to yourself as a parent. Most people would never imagine giving birth without a care provider around. Postpartum doulas are more like midwives in this way. With infinite patience and compassion, they are there, catching and welcoming you as you enter parenthood. I think every new parent deserves one.

Photography, courtesy of Doula Care.

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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News