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Three reasons why I won’t ask to hold your baby; and two reasons why I will

Support is more than just holding the baby

Babies are cute. 

There is no getting around the fact that their softness, new baby smell, soft fuzzy heads, sleepy coziness calls out to everyone around them.  It creates a desire to protect, hold, and cuddle that is definitely hard to ignore.  Just introduce a new baby to a group of adults or children and soon the requests to hold and touch the baby come forth.  Even when the baby is fussy, people are quick to offer to take baby out of mom’s arms in their offer to provide relief for mom.

But, you will notice that I am not one of those people.

 I won’t ask to hold your baby.

When I am explaining my role as a doula, I often get one of two comments.  The first usually comes from the older generations exclaiming how they wished there were doulas available for them when they had their babies.  The other comment I get is how nice it would be to hold babies all the time.  They are often surprised to hear that I actually get to hold very few babies.

Don’t get me wrong. I love babies as much as the next person.  But as a doula I feel that there are some more important reasons why I won’t ask to hold your baby.

Baby is meant to be with mom, not a stranger
Research is showing us more and more that the newborns reflexes and traits are all designed for them to live within the habitat of the mother’s chest.  The way they curve to mom’s body, the rooting reflex to find food, the range of vision that is in perfect focus at the distance from moms breast to her face.  The very microbiome of mother’s skin helps to create the basis of baby’s immune system and antibodies.  Just by holding baby skin to skin, mothers can raise and lower baby’s body temperature when baby is too hot or cold.

I want mom to know she is doing a good job
There is nothing more frustrating than having your child cry in your arms and then suddenly have baby taken away by another person who thinks they can calm her better than you.  A mother knows her child better than anyone else.  To assume otherwise is arrogance.  Instead, I smile at mom with encouragement and ask how I can help.  I am happy to provide a drink for mom, desired toy, or just plain old understanding and patience while baby calms down.  If advice is needed, I offer it; but not until requested.

Bonding is a big deal
Parents need time to bond with baby and baby needs time to bond with parents.

There are many cultures around the world that protect the first 40 days after birth.  Not only is this important for the physical recovery of the mother, it also allows time for bonding with baby.  Other forms of bonding like skin to skin with mom helps create milk supply for breastfeeding.  Eye to eye contact helps to sync brain waves of parent and baby. 

To walk into the household after the birth of a baby and insist on interrupting this important process because of personal wishes to hold baby is disrespectful, not to mention counterproductive to nature’s design.

All this being said, there are some times when I will be happy to hold your baby.

If the parents asks me to

New parents need time to take care of themselves as well.  A chance to take a shower, go to the bathroom, take a nap, spend time with older siblings, eat an uninterrupted meal all can be made possible when they know baby is in safe caring arms. 

Only after asking mom and baby

With friends and family, there is a stronger sense of familiarity.  When on a playdate or a at a Bible study, I may request a few moments with baby, but always respect baby’s need to be with mom and moms need to be with baby.

Support is more than just holding the baby

You see, as a doula I am not there to provide babysitting services or work as a nanny.  The role of a postpartum doula is to support the whole family as they transition into their new family dynamics of parenthood and life outside the womb.  Emotional support through listening, a warm hug, and encouragement to follow their own instincts is just a part of the services provided.

I also offer my experience with babies.  Having a knowledgeable voice sharing what is and isn’t normal for newborn behavior; tips on how to sooth a fussy baby, and tricks on getting though bath time or that night time feeding are always appreciated by the new parents.

The practical support of the doula is also invaluable.  I make sure that everyone has had a chance to eat, sleep, and get that sometimes elusive shower.  Laundry, dishes, and household organization also helps keep the household running while the parents’ world revolves around the needs of their newborn.

Partners and siblings also benefit.  Partners have a chance to express their own emotional needs and concerns as they adjust into their new roles.  Learning best ways to support mom and baby can be empowering.  Siblings are also learning a new reality.  Making sure their needs are still being met helps to create a smoother transition.  Teaching siblings on how their lives fit with baby and how to express their own needs is very helpful.

So if you are looking for support after birth that extends beyond just holding your baby, contact me today to create a support plan that promotes your recovery and protects the bond between you and baby.



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