If I could wave a wand and give one thing to all mothers of new babies (adoptive and birth) it would be a postpartum doula. Here I share with you the wisdom and passion of postpartum doula Sejal Fichadia, of Kindred Mother Care.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a mother of two beautiful kids. I am passionate about helping new parents navigate the waters of parenthood which can be quite challenging. My love for postpartum work probably had its roots in my childhood but I did not realize it until last year when my niece was born. I also met this wonderful lactation consultant, Meg Stalnaker from an in-home visit at my sister’s home who made me want to be a lactation consultant. I am working on achieving that goal too but the joy I get from getting a hug from a mother who wakes up from a nap knowing her baby or babies are well cared for is something I cannot describe in words.
What is a postpartum doula and how can she help new families?
A postpartum doula is a trained professional who can provide emotional and physical support to new families. Light housekeeping, meal preparation, errands and basic care for the newborn are just a few things that a postpartum doula can do for a new mother and her family. Breastfeeding support is one of many skills that I am trained in as a postpartum doula. I can provide just the right kind of skilled support for the the mother who has breastfeeding or lactation issues until she gets an appointment with a lactation consultant. The time and space between seeing a lactation consultant or a doctor is where I want to be, and support the new parents. I am not there to give any medical advice, but I am there to provide them evidence-based information and help them trust themselves and their parenting. Postpartum doulas should be a part of every new family’s baby registry or must haves on a gift list for new mothers, because mother-friendly care needs to be a priority in our country. We say that it takes a village to raise a child, but without family members and friends living close by in a nuclear family culture, the care of the new mother is taking a back seat. Postpartum doulas can change that and as it goes without saying “ if a mother is happy then the whole family is happy.”
How can new families find a postpartum doula?
New families should start doing their research on postpartum doulas as soon as they are in the third trimester of pregnancy. I suggest that they interview 4-5 postpartum doulas
to see who will be most compatible for their family and their needs. There are independent postpartum doulas like me and then there are doula collectives where a group of doulas work under one company name. There are sites like CAPPA that have a listing of postpartum doulas in your state or region.
Why do new parents need a postpartum doula?
Coming from a country where postpartum care is very important, I have a million reasons, but the one reason I can give you is WHY NOT ? If we want a mother to take care of her child and feed and nurture that baby, someone has to look out for that mother. Postpartum doulas are essential to our culture. By giving a mother the time she needs to rest and recover, we are telling the new generations and people around the community that we care for our new moms. If a new mother feels supported in her recovery she is able to bond with her baby without worrying about meals, laundry, sibling care, dishes. I make it a priority to feed the new parents healthy and nutritious meals and snacks. To my surprise, all of my clients have loved the food I have made for them and I come home feeling excited that I was able to nourish them with foods that are not only healing and anti-inflammatory for the mother but for the entire family because they are cooked with love.
Do you have to keep up with current research and evidence in maternal child health?
Yes, of course. Maternal health is an ever changing field and so is infant health. A good postpartum professional needs to have evidence based information for parents. I can suggest new ideas that may work for healing a diaper rash, coping with reflux in a newborn, breastfeeding issues, cooking healthy meals, tummy time, swaddling and a plethora of challenges that most new parents may face. I read clinical journals, articles, follow a lot of research sites and take lots of continuing education classes and workshops to keep myself up to date with the latest research in perinatal and neonatal health.