Expert Live with Doula Gigi: Discussing the 5 Essential Services for Postpartum
November 15, 2023
Ahma & Co Team
In preparation for Ahma & Co’s postnatal retreat launch, our co-founder Christina (RN, MSN, FNP) met with Gigi (one of our expert doulas!) to discuss postpartum essentials. While many may quickly think of products, we chose to dive into the services that are critical for moms, babies, and families in the 4th trimester. In case you missed it, here are the top 5 services we discussed and the main takeaways for each.
1. Doulas are non-medical support persons that help you through life transitions including during labor, delivery, and postpartum.
Doulas meet you where you’re at to give you evidence-based information, translate intimidating medical jargon, support you both emotionally and physically, and can even refer you to other support services like acupuncturists, lymphatic drainage massage therapists, support groups, or specialists if needed.
Doula services are not just for the luxe or the hippies - studies show they actually help improve both birthing outcomes and breastfeeding success.
Doulas are expert educators and advocates that can also help teach partners, family members, and support persons how to take care of both mom and baby. They can also supplement the support that families provide to new parents.
Service pricing for doulas can vary depending on the area you live in and the time of day you need support. For reference, in Orange County where cost of living is higher than the U.S. standard, a doulas services can range from $30 - $50/ hour during daytime hours, and $40 - $60/ hour for night time hours.
DONA is a great resource to use if you are interested in finding a doula in your area, but don’t know where to start.
2. Lactation educators, whether a consultant or counselor, are necessary regardless of how you’d like to feed your baby to give you the best chance of success at effectively feeding your baby.
There are different types of lactation educators including doulas who can be lactation counselors, lactation specialists, and IBCLCs. The titles and certifications differ based on their education pathways, but it’s most important to choose a partner that you are comfortable with. If the partner you choose is not equipped to handle more complex feeding issues, they can connect you with someone who can.
Lactation educators can help with common concerns such as babies not gaining weight, transitioning to bottle feeding, nursing positions, and equipment recommendations.
Lactation educators don’t just help parents in the postpartum period - they can also provide guidance for expecting parents or later down the line if feeding issues develop.
Doing research in the prenatal period to find a local lactation consultant that you like can help relieve the burden when needs arise after baby arrives.
Not all lactation consultants are covered by insurance, but most insurance plans who do cover this service only cover certain providers such as IBCLCs.
The Lactation Network is a great resource to find in person, in office, in home, or virtual IBCLCs that are covered by your insurance. Nest Collaborative offers online breastfeeding consultations and accepts most insurances.
3. Postpartum Nutrition for moms is just as important as infant nutrition. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum take as much as a quarter of our minerals which are essential for our physical and mental health.
Contrary to Western culture that promotes salads and smoothies for health, most cultures actually advocate for warming, nourishing, and easily digestible food while avoiding the cold for the first trimester which is more conducive to recovery.
Replacing the standard meal schedule of 3 big meals to multiple smaller meals throughout the day that can be eaten quickly can help ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need during this critical time.
Liquid IV or adding lemon and salt to your water can help supplement your mineral levels.
If you follow a specific diet such as veganism or a vegetarian diet, speak with your health care provider to determine if you need to add any supplements for your health or your baby’s health if breastfeeding.
If you or your support system are finding difficulty making time to prep nutritious meals, there are resources like Chiyo that provide tailored maternal health meal service delivery nationwide, Mama Meals that provides ayurvedic postpartum meals nationwide, and Mother Bees that delivers postpartum meals in the LA area.
4. Body work, such as pelvic floor physical therapy (PFPT) or belly binding are often seen as a luxury, but are often essential for a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery.
Your pelvic floor muscles are not only important for labor and delivery, but they also control daily functions such as going to the restroom or sexual intercourse.
PFPT can also help with breathing exercises and positioning during labor and delivery.
Red flags to watch out for: feeling pressure or like your organs are starting to fall out.
Our favorite resource for pelvic floor physical therapy is Origin which provides both in person and virtual PFPT. They can even help you find providers who are in network! If you are local to Orange County, Pelvic Sanity and Revive Qi are also wonderful resources.
Belly binding can help improve circulation and posture, and is meant to be worn consistently for the first 6 weeks.
Some doulas can wrap you, teach you how to wrap yourself, and even teach your partner or other support persons how to wrap you.
Bellibind is our top pick for belly binding wraps kits and training if you are unable to access training via your doula.
5. Mental health support is just as important as supporting your physical health! Up to 85% of new parents experience baby blues.
Maternal hormones will shift drastically after birth and with breastfeeding which can impact your mental health.
Postpartum depression is not the only PP mental health concern - there are baby blues, pp anxiety, and pp psychosis that moms, partners, and support persons should be aware of.
Find your community as early as you can to proactively prepare for the postpartum period.
Remember it’s okay to ask for help!
If you don’t have a support system or want additional support with postpartum mental health, Postpartum Support International has a 24/7 hotline and can connect you with online groups and local resources. Seven Starling is another resource that provides online care for maternal mental health, and can check your benefits to see if their services are in network for you!