The Importance of Postpartum Support | A Review
This write-up is a review of Lacey's postpartum doula support, authored by a previous client.
I cannot rave enough about the importance of having a postpartum doula. It was like having a family member there for me all the time, but without the guilt of worrying that I was taking advantage of their goodwill.
When I had my son 3.5 years ago, I did not have the support system I needed and felt overwhelmed and scared. This led to postpartum anxiety and depression I did not know how to deal with. When my husband and I decided we were ready to have another child, we vowed to do things differently. I knew I needed more support, but didn’t know how I would get it, as I had no family in the country, and my friends all had their own baby(ies) to care for. A friend did some research for me, and found Hampton Roads Doulas. Until then, I had only associated doulas with the birthing process. I had no idea of the range of other services they can provide.
Once I checked out the website and chatted with Lacey, the owner and my primary doula, it was a no-brainer – she was hired. Lacey came over a few weeks before I delivered to get the layout of the house, meet my son, and mainly to get an idea of what I would need once the baby arrived. The answer to that was “I have no idea!” All I knew was that I didn’t want to feel so overwhelmed and alone again, and Lacey ran with this perfectly. She has clearly been doing this long enough that she can get a feel for what someone needs, even if they are not sure themselves what that may be.
The day after I came home from the hospital, and for the next two weeks, Lacey came by either 9-6 or 8-5. She would bring me breakfast and/or coffee in bed, bring me my daughter to nurse, then pick her up again when she was done so I could get a much needed nap. This rest every morning for the first week or two was invaluable for my recovery. And the fact that I could rest knowing that my kids were taken care of let me do so without guilt. During this time she changed diapers, entertained a baby, played with my older son, and did various things around the house. She would usually get a load of laundry going, fold the existing clean laundry, empty/load the dishwasher, and just do general picking up of the mess that had invariably accumulated overnight, seemingly on its own. Every few days she would go by the store to pick up the groceries I had ordered online. She even offered to do some cooking, but I enjoyed that brief kid-free time so much, I never took her up on it!
Lacey was great taking the lead on things. When I made an off-hand comment about how the pantry needed to be cleaned out as we were putting away groceries, she suggested we do it that day. This would not have occurred to me since I felt there was so much to do already, but it was surprisingly quick and easy to do it once we started. I just needed that extra push of “yes, you can do it – and I will help you.” That sums up a lot of our relationship.
I would get overwhelmed and unsure about getting certain things accomplished, and Lacey would gently nudge and reassure me to see that I was not alone, and it was possible to have a newborn and still get things accomplished other than staring at a baby all day (as fun as that can be).
Our days came with built-in therapy sessions, lots of emotional support and encouragement. As I said to my husband after a particularly stressful day that would normally have reduced me to tears: “I love Lacey. She keeps the crazies away.” Whenever I got close to letting my anxiety get the better of me, she effortlessly talked me down and reminded me that I was not alone.
Lacey was a wealth of knowledge on all things baby- and kid-related. Even though I had had an infant before, I had so many questions. From pumping, nursing, and bottle-feeding, to sleep training, and how to use my Moby wrap baby carrier – she had all the answers. In addition, she was always open-minded and non-judgmental. Lacey was able to get my exclusively-nursing newborn to take a bottle, so I would have peace of mind that she could be fed if I were away from her longer than expected. She even got her to take a pacifier, which I had not expected to be such a struggle.
As great as Lacey was with my newborn, she was also amazing with my toddler. He loved her almost immediately, and looked forward to seeing her every morning. She was a great help getting him to adjust to being a big brother. Having been an only child for so long, it was quite a transition for him - and for myself as well. Up until this point I rarely had to discipline him, so when some behavioral issues and tantrums started popping up, I had no idea how to handle them. Once again Lacey stepped in without hesitation. She gave me great tips on disciplining in a way I felt comfortable. She was even able to get my son to sleep in his own bed all by himself in a matter of days. Something he hadn’t done in over a year. It was magical!
On the few occasions Lacey could not come for a scheduled day, she was always able to send someone else from the agency. Everyone we had was great and a wonderful asset in their own right. Stephanie is also a lactation consultant and answered my many questions about the subject. Megan is a sleep consultant, which was very useful for helping us through the toddler’s sleep issues. She even had the baby sleeping in her crib for naps and bedtime from that day forth. Again, magic! Having a company instead of a single doula, I never had to worry about not having the help on a day I needed it. When one was not available, I knew that any other doula from Hampton Roads Doulas would be just as awesome.
Once my body recovered more and I became more comfortable with being on my own, we adjusted the days and hours I needed. It was nice having this flexibility. I could have an idea of how I wanted the next week to go, but if things changed and I needed more or less help, Lacey was always able to accommodate.
As we neared the end of our purchased hours, Lacey started preparing me for doing more things on my own. We took an outing to the Children’s Museum together, to give me a feel for what it would be like going out and about with two kids. She had many helpful tips and suggestions and made it an enjoyable, instead of stressful, experience.
Lastly, a few weeks after what would have been our final day with Lacey, my son contracted the flu. A few days later I inevitably caught it as well. Taking care of two kids while sick with the flu was more than I could handle, so in a fever-induced panic I texted Lacey, who assured me everything would be ok. She showed up the next afternoon, on such short notice, and for the next two days after that, so I could rest and recover. I don’t know what I would have done without her!
Lacey came into our hectic and stressful lives, as we were struggling to adjust to life as a family of four, with a newborn and all the changes that brings, a toddler who was testing all sorts of boundaries, and two very sleep deprived parents. She gave us the tools we needed to get everyone sleeping through the night, and gave me the confidence I sorely needed to know that I could do this after all. And if ever there comes a day again where I feel like I can’t, I know she’s just a call or text away. You can’t put a price on that peace of mind. I will forever after encourage any and all of my friends to get a postpartum doula. It was the best thing we could have done for our family.