Rite of Passage: Noun
1) a ceremony performed in some cultures at times when an individual changes his status, as at puberty and marriage 2) a significant event in a transitional period of someone's life It is seen as a rite of passage to be sleep deprived in early parenthood. I'm here to tell you that is a lie.
It is not a rite. It comes as a slow delineation of adequate support. This thinking comes from being apart from families. It comes from feeling like we are the masters of our universe... and then a new human arrives who doesn't acknowledge our superiority.
But just like babies don't play by the rules, you don't have to do parenthood alone like the current "rules" teach you. You don't have to be sleep deprived at night so you are in a state of constant catch-up during the day.
Being tired will not feel like a badge of honor, so lets stop selling it like one.
Guess what we do.
We come to your house. We help and teach in the early days. We encourage and guide. We offer care and support. We are postpartum doulas and a new family's secret weapon for having a smooth transition from pregnant to their new normal.
We are postpartum doulas and we genuinely care about the success each family is striving towards. With each overnight shift, each swaddle we wrap, and each time we give comfort to a child that has not yet found his or her way to sleep through the night - we are trying to soothe.
Having support in the hours when you are tired doesn't seem like a huge deal before labor. It's just night time, right? But those lonely hours when it's dark and quiet are usually when the ugly voices come out.
A new mom may start hating herself for not being able to get her baby to feed at the breast.
It is right there! Just put it in your mouth and suck!
A new mom may wonder why they let her take this new human home when she doesn't have any idea what to do.
She's crying! She won't stop crying and I've done everything I can think of.
What if, instead of feeling alone and ill-equipped, you had a caring person to be with you? Someone to say "That is perfect. You are doing exactly the right thing. This just takes some time and you are doing so well as your baby is learning."
What if you had a person that was able to bring your baby to you, help you get her to latch, bring you a glass of water in the middle of the night, then swoop out of the room when the baby was done, to complete the burping, diaper changes, and ease your baby to sleep?
Being a parent is hard. Being a new parent is really hard.
You deserve to be equipped with tools that help you feel confident in this new stage of life.
You deserve to give your baby the best, and a parent who is rested is a better version than a parent who is tired.
New moms and dads do go through a rite of passage when they become parents: that is labor. That is birth.
The nights that follow are life, and you don't have to go through life and parenthood alone.
Written by Ariel Swift
I am so excited for tonight. I get to have a sleepover!
I get to connect with another woman, I get to help her, talk with her, nourish her - with food or companionship.
I get to be welcomed into another woman's home, to meet her exactly where she is at. I am not her guest, I do not need to be entertained.
I get to hear her describe her birth.
I get to hear her describe the first moments of parenthood. I get to hear her describe her feelings. Sometimes, I get to see her ugly cry.
I get to see her heart poured open, in joy, or in fear of the unknown, or though the physical act of feeding her baby from her body.
I am given trust, to be in her home, to hold her child, to share my experience and knowledge of motherhood. I am allowed to see delicate moments. I am an audience to celebrate small and large victories.I am present to be with this woman as she is learning more about what it means to be a woman.
I get to have a sleepover!
I get to look into her eyes and see her without her make up. I get to walk the halls with her restless baby. I get to sing lullabies to her child.
I get to hear her house creak in the night, have my eyes adjust to the bright light of the bathroom, and wake up the house with the smell of coffee in the morning.
I get to help during the times when the other experts all go away. I get to be physically present to support when it feels like there is no one else to call. I get to tell a woman she is an incredible mother.
I get to have a sleepover!
Being a postpartum doula is not all about changing diapers and caring for a baby. It is about connecting and caring for mothers as they recover from birth and learn. It is about being genuine. It is about being available emotionally and physically.
Laundry can get done, bottles can be cleaned, and the baby can be rocked back to sleep - but being a postpartum doula is about the full and genuine recovery of the entire family after the birth experience, and it is centered on the care of the mother.
When the mother is looked after, the family can thrive.
Ariel Swift (she/her) does most of the writing around this blog, but we love having guest writers and visits!