Postpartum Doula Care Helps New Mothers

Postpartum doula care makes new moms better moms.
Rachel and babies Scarlett, left, and Burton Rosen are benefitting from the after-birth doula care Tory Kielas Jensen and the staff at Welcome Baby Care provide-but it's not just moms of twins who can use help in the "fourth trimester."

Back in the day, a new mother had scads of in-home support: Grandparents, siblings and neighbors chipped in to run the household and take pressure off the recuperating mom. Sadly, today’s new mothers often go without this network because they don’t have relatives nearby, are under pressure to get back to work ASAP or feel as if they need to “do it all.” What’s more, maternity leave is much shorter than it used to be. This is where Welcome Baby Care comes in. They are doulas, but not birthing doulas. These doulas swoop in where the rubber really hits the road—that is, when the joyous hullabaloo over the birth and meeting the new baby dies down. After being doted on during pregnancy, a new mother is often left high and dry, wondering “What the heck just happened? Now what do I do?” Indeed, the United States has one of the higher rates of postpartum depression in the world.“We think of ourselves as “fourth-trimester” experts,” says Welcome Baby Care founder and owner Carey Lindeman. “We liken it to the custom in second world countries where a new mother only takes care of herself and bonds with the baby for the first 30 to 40 days. Everything else is taken care of: People bring her food, care for the other children, do household chores.” The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek; it means “female servant or slave.” Modern-day doulas, however, might be better described as coaches or companions. Unlike a midwife, a doula is a non-medical assistant who provides emotional and practical support. “I realized that a doula has kind of a sixth sense about mothers,” Lindeman says. “They can tune into that mother and what she’s going through, and bring calm with ease.” Lindeman founded Welcome Baby Care after her experience with operating in-home senior citizen care. Even though she had raised four kids, when her stepdaughter had a baby, she found she was underequipped to help. Lindeman realized mothers needed the same sort of support as families with an aging parent.Welcome Baby Care is the only agency licensed by the Department of Health in the state of Minnesota. “A big part of what we do is education,” Lindeman says. “We bring in outside experts and psychologists, and keep up with [new findings from] the American Society of Pediatrics.” Lindeman believes in non-judgmental care; the agency is there to support the mother’s wishes. “We are not forcing our ways on them. If they decide they want to breastfeed, we support that. If they want to formula-feed, that’s their choice and we won’t stand in the way of that.” Welcome Baby Care offers both daytime shifts and “overnights,” a 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift where the doula facilitates feeding, changes the baby, folds laundry, prepares breakfast and makes sure the parents aren’t overwhelmed by household tasks when they get up in the morning. “We’re not nannies,” Lindeman stresses. “We want to get [parents] to a point where they’re confident.” Welcome Baby Care will also help families find and train nannies. The agency recently helped Plymouth residents Matt and Mithra Marcus, who were pleased with the level of care they received. “Every doula we worked with was kind, compassionate and exceptionally professional.” Mithra Marcus says. “[They] helped us during a delicate time with loving care.” Contrary to popular belief, postpartum care it is not a luxury service; it directly affects the outcome of a family. More and more insurance companies are acknowledging the direct correlation between postpartum care and a healthy family. “Babies want parents who are well-rested and happy,” Lindeman says. “They don’t care about a closet full of outfits and trinkets. One father told us, ‘You’re the cheapest marriage counselors we could ever get!’ ”