I am happy to present Kate Turza from www.ktpostpartumdoula.com as our expert this week on the Radiant Life Consulting Blog. I love talking and chatting with Kate about all things around postpartum health. Today she is sharing “Why I Needed a Postpartum Doula” pulling from her personal story with her third child. Kate shares from her heart and experience in this post. I found the post very helpful as it encouraged me to follow up with my doctors to ensure my postpartum symptoms were normal. If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, reach out to Kate and make sure you are getting the postpartum support you need. She provides support no matter where you are located.
Hindsight is 20/20: Why I needed a postpartum doula.
When I became pregnant with my third child, I felt pretty confident that I was going to handle my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum with more confidence (and finesse) than my previous two. I had been in the “trenches” of motherhood for over three years raising two very energetic toddler boys. I had a strong support network of friends and family, who were all excited about welcoming our new baby girl.
A goal that I had with my third, that I didn’t with the others, was to exclusively breastfeed her for the first six months. My breastfeeding relationship ended with my boys around 3 months when I returned to work. At the time that I made the decision to switch to bottle feeding, it was the right decision for me and my family. This time around, I felt more confident: I knew where I could find quality breastfeeding support, knew that it definitely DID get easier as time went on, and had a close friend that would be navigating the journey around the same time I was.
What do they say about well-made plans for motherhood? Oh, that’s right….there are no well-made plans for motherhood. That’s why I needed a postpartum doula.
When my baby girl arrived in this world, we were all beside ourselves with excitement. Our breastfeeding relationship got off to a great start. She latched right away, my nipples didn’t want to fall off, and my milk came in with a vengeance at day 3. And, to make this even more idyllic, my boys were old enough that they could play by themselves as I laid on the couch nursing their little sister. Honestly, this was the easiest breastfeeding journey I had had. I, happily, saw no end in sight.
At our first pediatrician visit after we left the hospital, she weighed over a pound less than her birth weight. After discussing her birth, the pediatrician was confident my daughter had an inflated birth weight due to the IV fluids during her delivery. We were given instructions to come back in a week to make sure she gained weight. She weighed in a couple ounces more than the previous appointment, but still not to her birth weight. This time were given instructions to nurse every two hours around the clock.
So, that’s what we did.
Every two hours.
Around the clock.
We went back for another appointment at one month. Again, my daughter gained weight, but not up to her birth weight. This time, we made an appointment with the lactation consultant. But, again, because everything else seemed to be going well (both the nursing and my daughter’s developmental milestones), I didn’t feel an urgency to make the lactation appointment. The appointment was made the day after my 6 week (it was actually almost 8 weeks, because you know, life) postpartum check up with my OBGYN.
At my postpartum check up, I told my doctor that I was still bleeding from the birth. He was concerned, immediately performed a sonogram and diagnosed me with a retained placenta. I was given medication to pass the (very small) piece of placenta, and sent on my merry way.
At the LC appointment, we discussed my nursing (it was still happening every 2 hours), discussed my delivery, and then got to my postpartum health. I told her that I was diagnosed with a retained placenta the day before.
Well, guess what?
A retained placenta causes low milk supply.
My body wasn’t making enough milk for my daughter to thrive.
Because I wasn’t making enough milk, I had to supplement with formula at every feed. Since my goal was to still exclusively breastfeed I was now going to pump after every feed (still every 2 hours) for 15 minutes to try to get my supply up.
Well, remember my boys that were happy and content to sit and play while I nursed their sister? Now imagine, almost 2 months in, that not only did they need to fend for themselves while nursing, but pumping as well, and had a mom that was consistently only getting 1.5-2 hours of sleep at a time due to this feeding schedule.
Needless to say, something had to give. It ended up being the pumping regimen. I continued to combination feed until my daughter self-weaned at 10 months.
I remember my lactation consultant asking me “Do you have help at home?” when she was telling me about my new pumping schedule. I’m pretty sure I laughed at her. I had no one I felt comfortable enough to call and have them help me around the house so I could devote some serious time to pumping. Everyone I know had a full-time job.
I also had no clue what a postpartum doula was, let alone something this magical existed.
In hindsight, I should have had a postpartum doula during all my postpartum periods, but especially my third.
- She would have noticed that I was still bleeding and urged me to call my doctor before my routine postpartum check up.
- She would have told me that returning to work at five weeks wasn’t a good idea since my body was still recovering.
- She would have helped around the house so I could have rested in between my two-hour feed regimen.
- She would have entertained my boys or held my daughter while I was pumping.
- She would have reminded me that I was doing a good job and what I was navigating was challenging.
- She would have told me that I wasn’t a failure, that things happen, and I was doing the best thing for my baby: nourishing and loving her.
I learned why I needed a postpartum doula during that experience. Soon after navigating this postpartum period, I became a postpartum doula and have been supporting families in my area as they navigate this vulnerable (and, often, unpredictable) period. It is important to me that expecting families know where to find support during postpartum; no matter where you are located, I am always available to provide guidance, counsel, support, and some well-deserved encouragement via phone, video, or email.
Take a few minutes to seriously consider Why I Needed a Postpartum Doula.
Kate is a mom of 3 and a postpartum doula. She’s passionate about normalizing the postpartum and early motherhood period. She provides postpartum support and group support to moms in her area, as well as virtually. To find out more visit: www.ktpostpartumdoula.com
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