To kick off our ASK A series, TWO DOULAS talks to … well, two doulas to find out how we serve new and expectant families. In Part One, we sit down with Birth Doula Jenny Gold. In Part Two we ask Postpartum Doula Lee Springer what she does all day.
Lee Springer is a birth and postpartum doula who’s been supporting families in Montreal for three years. She is one half of the TWO DOULAS team. When she’s not looking after her two small kids or getting tech advice from her husband, she’s catching up on her bookclub reading and binge-listening to comedy podcasts.
How would you describe your job in just one sentence?
As a postpartum doula, I provide a compassionate ear as well as informational and practical support to promote healing and rest to new parents so that they are free to bond with their baby and gain confidence in their new roles.
What made you want to be a postpartum doula?
I had a difficult time after the birth of my first daughter in 2011. Although I’d had an easy pregnancy and was thrilled to become a mother, I felt totally overwhelmed and isolated when we got back home from the hospital. I was exhausted and couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel as happy as everyone said I ought to be. It took me months to realize that this wasn’t just a case of “baby blues.” I sought out the help of a therapist to deal with my postpartum depression, which was incredibly helpful and allowed me to find my joy again and really bond with my baby. I decided to turn what had been a very difficult experience for me into a positive one, and enrolled in MotherWit Doula Care’s postpartum doula training so that I could support new parents in ways I’d wished I’d known I needed at the time.
How can new parents benefit from your services?
We live in a very different time from the days when family, friends and neighbours rallied around parents after the birth of a new baby, bringing food, taking over daily chores and caring for older children so that they could rest and bond. Many of us live great distances from our relatives, who may not be able to spend much time helping out. Lots of grandparents are still working full-time, and let’s be honest, not everyone is lucky enough to count on this kind of support from family even if they live close by. Nowadays, new parents are often forced to go it alone, trying to take care of their baby, their house and themselves when they are getting very little sleep and are still recovering from birth.
As a postpartum doula, I will listen to your birth story, answer your questions about infant feeding, bring you meals, tidy up and make sure you get a nap or a shower. I can give you information on newborn care and can teach you how to wear your baby, if you like. Additionally, I’m trained to recognize when it might be time to call on experts like lactation consultants and licensed therapists, if these become necessary. Most of all, I’m here to care for you so that you can focus on resting and getting to know your little one.
What happens at your first meeting with a new parent?
Typically, a lot of listening. New parents usually need to debrief and talk about what they’ve just experienced. Having a baby is totally life-changing and it’s so important to have someone to talk to about it. We usually go over common early breastfeeding challenges like sore nipples, engorgement and other infant feeding worries. Often, small adjustments are all that are needed before these things are worked out. I may suggest a few tips for dealing with a sore perineum and other common postpartum aches and pains (you’d be amazed what you can do with a few cabbage leaves and some witch hazel). I always make sure that my client has had something to eat and that we’ve done something to promote comfort. Something as simple as an hour of uninterrupted sleep and some shampoo can make a huge difference in the early days.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your field?
Actually, I think the main issue is that very few people know what doulas are in general, let alone that such a thing as a postpartum doula exists! It’s a fairly new profession, but the word is beginning to spread and hopefully, more and more families can get the support they need at this precious time.
What do you love most about working with new parents?
Seeing them come into their own. It’s amazing to watch the transition from nervous, new parents who are worried that they aren’t “doing it right” to parents who could feed, burp and change a baby with their eyes closed (which is a great skill for the sleep-deprived, by the way). With a little support and encouragement, they find their groove and it’s like they’ve been doing it for ages.