Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Phone calls to a doula

To all pregnant’s a “head’s up”. Some time after the baby’s will make this phone call. The wording and timing may vary, but the questions will be essentially the same.

“I’ve got this pile of books here. One says to get the baby on a schedule, another says to feed on demand. But what does “demand” mean? What if the baby comes off after 10 minutes. Is that a feed? When do I change the baby? Before, after, or in the middle of a feed? Am I wrong to want to grab my baby away from visitors? You know, they’ve come all this way, and brought presents, but I just want to hide...”

We’ll probably spend up to an hour on this particular phone call. We’ll laugh together...we might cry together...then you’ll hang up the phone floating on air. Why? Because you will have been reminded of your infinite strength, your inner wisdom, and your ability to trust your body and your baby.

My role during the postpartum period is to help you tap into the same basic instinct that took you so beautifully through labour. Let’s assume, like most of my clients, you birthed without any disturbance, and everything was straight-forward. So, there shouldn’t be any major challenges to overcome (i.e. no latch problems caused by narcotics or aggressive suctioning, etc.) So, I will just have to remind you of your power that you drew on in labour, and remind you to continue trusting your body.

And, with the baby on the outside, you will trust her to teach you wisely and gently. You will be still and calm and hold her close always, in order to hear what she needs to teach you.

Just know that you will find it pretty freaky when she give you a withering look at midnight, as you’re changing her. It’s a look that will seem to say, “Oh, no, you really don’t know what you’re doing.” But then the look will be gone, and she will roll with whatever you’re doing, or cry and tell you a few stories. But she won’t hold a grudge. She’ll be amazingly forgiving.

And you’ll soon discover that changing her before a feed will save a lot of clean up time...because if you jostle her and change her AFTER a feed, she might easily throw up all over you and her new jammies. Then, she’ll be wide awake...and need another feeding...and the doorbell will ring...(don’t answer!)

And you’ll soon discover that zips and buttons and snaps can make you feel TOTALLY incompetent, so you’ll just buy those bag nighties with the envelope neck. Pull up the nightie, change the diaper, pull the nightie down. All done!

And you’ll also discover that a newborn baby is kind of like a 15 year old boy. “Hey, mum, I’m just going out to grab a bite.” “But, you just ate an hour ago!” “Yeah, great dinner, mum. Thanks! But I need a pizza.” No, you didn’t do a bad job as a mum. He’s just growing like a weed! Same deal with a newborn. Cluster feeds, marathon feeds, feeding every hour....whatever happens, it’s normal. Trust the baby to know what she needs - she won’t overdo it. And miraculously, she’ll morph into a more predictable creature at some point after 6 weeks.

Thinking about dinner...I like to think of the breasts like...Side A is dinner...Side B is dessert. Sometimes you want dinner without dessert. Sometimes you want a break before you eat dessert. Sometimes you go straight from dinner to two helpings of chocolate mousse. Whatever happens, it’s normal. You know, just like those nights when you have dinner (great dinner, right?) then have dessert...then want popcorn at the movies...oh, and some nibs, and a big drink. Then the next day you might just want salad. Do you analyze it to death? Do you need to read a book to see if you’re normal? No, it is what it is.

And that’s what life is like with a new baby. If you just roll with it and trust your body and your baby to figure each other out, it will work out fine. If you need a few pep talk phone calls along the way...then you’ll be just like every other mum.

“So, oh...before you go...I have to remind you to...
...lock the door to visitors who just want to hold the baby (and not vacuum)...
...turn all the clocks around, especially at night...
...sing out loud...
...and be easy on yourself...”

- Jacquie Munro Vancouver Doula

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