(with Lesley Jeruzal, mom of 3, Postpartum Doula) ”What is a postpartum doula and how do they help me figure out all the ’how to be a good mom’ questions I have after birth?”
You learn a lot during pregnancy. You learn even more in labor & during birth. But after birth (postpartum) is when your bleary-eyed & sleep deprived self learns the most. Have you ever thought about how you’ll learn “how to be a mom?” Maybe there’s an easier & faster way to get in your “new mom groove?” And it’ll stop that nasty little thought from popping in your head … “will I be a good mom?”
Working, cleaning, laundry, cooking, juggling the kids, making dinner, changing diapers or helping feeding baby in the middle of the night … sometimes we just need help. We can’t do it all. We can’t.
Lesley, a mama of 3 boys and postpartum doula shares her day in the life of a postpartum doula. She also answers the question “What is a postpartum doula?” & shares examples how they might help you after birth.
You’ll Also Learn:
- Tips on where to find a postpartum doula
- Questions to ask a postpartum doula if you’re considering hiring one (and what attributes you want to look for)
- Ideas on how to get postpartum support, even if a postpartum doula is not in your budget.
Who is Lesley Jeruzal?
Lesley is a wife, mom of 3 kiddos and survivor of postpartum depression. She’s very active in the postpartum depression support community in Grand Rapids, Michigan & in her “spare time” she’s a postpartum doula. She loves helping moms find their groove as new moms with their new bambinos (especially when first home from the hospital). But she hates folding socks. Instead of being grounded as a kid, Lesley was forced to fold socks To this day she refuses & goes barefoot most of the time at home.
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Sarah Blight: Hi. This is Sarah Blight from Your Baby Booty Interviews where we chat with moms, dads and experts about what they’ve learned about having kids and becoming parents so that you can be a step ahead in your own journey and make better decisions faster. So today we are chatting with Lesley. She’s the mama of three boys and one daughter who was a stillborn. She is a wife. She is a survivor of postpartum depression and she is a postpartum doula. So we’re chatting today about what happens when you get home from the hospital and you’re so overwhelmed and you don’t know what to do. So I think it’s postpartum doulas to the rescue. [Laughter]
Lesley Jeruzal: Definitely. [Laughter]
Sarah Blight: So thanks so much for chatting with us, Lesley. So tell us I mean they used to be called I think there was birth support, there was coach, labour coach, now we have postpartum doulas. What — what is a postpartum doulas do?
Lesley Jeruzal: Well a postpartum doula is not a coach. She doesn’t replace anybody in the family. A lot of families are worried that if they bring in any kind of doula or birth doula or postpartum doula that they had somebody pushed out of picture. That is not what doulas are about. We are about supporting the family as a unit, helping them to adjust — birth doula supports the birth process. Postpartum doulas come in either right after you have the baby or after you get home and help you with adjustment, help mom take care of herself first off, foremost because you’ve been through a huge physical process. Some moms had C-sections and have surgical recovery to do. Major abdominal surgery is not something you’re like get through overnight and you have a new born to take care of. So making sure mom is taken care of.
A big philosophy of a lot of postpartum doulas have is we come in and we monitor the mother. Just like a long time ago when your mom would come over when you had a baby like she’d stayed with you for six weeks or whatever taking care of you, making the meals, that kind of thing. Postpartum Doulas come in and do what a mother would have done years ago. Today there are so many families live far away or there are some tension you don’t want to deal. Postpartum Doulas are going to come in and help you there to be a non-judgmental support to the new parents and to help educate outside family members on like right now, you know, baby’s [0:02:25] [Phonetic] back to sleep and making sure the babies are safe and SIDS education that kind of thing.
They’ll help them at [0:02:31] [Phonetic] breastfeeding, if you’re going to be a breastfeeding mom. Doulas are not like come in and tell you you have to do this, this and this. They’re going to meet you where you’re at. If you’re a formula feeding mom, they’re going to support you on that. If you’re a cloth diapering mom, they’ll support you on that. If you decided to do disposables, they’re going to meet you wherever you’re at and support you in to your decisions. They’re going to help you tune it to your intuition and help you do what you want to do with your baby.
Sarah Blight: I love that. So say I hired you, Lesley, as my postpartum doula, I just had my baby. I just got home from the hospital. What happens — tell me what a typical day or night or timeframe would be were you’re working for me? What is that look like?
Lesley Jeruzal: Different doulas will provide different services. I like to come in since I have a family of my own with, you know, children that are still small, 7, 5 and 16 months, I’m not able to do the night time and overnight and then a long time during the day. My philosophy of [0:02:56] [Phonetic] come in and basically mentor the mom. Those first few weeks you’ve just had the baby, I come in and make sure that, you know, you’re getting the rest that you need, you know, I’ll hold the baby while you take a nap. It’s not a nanny service. It’s not about coming in and taking the baby so you can go away and vacation — [Laughter] come out that at all.
I work with the parents so they need to be there when I’m there. I might come in. I might do some light housekeeping, you know, wash a couple of the dishes but don’t save the dishes for me because I don’t appreciate that. [Laughter] You know, light housekeeping, making light meals, you know, I’ll cook with whatever is in the house. Play with older siblings. Maybe have them, you know, help me with different things around the house. It’s about adjustment and figuring out where everyone is — everybody’s place is and things.
Sarah Blight: That’s cool. So you did mention that there are doulas who do the overnight. What is that look like?
Lesley Jeruzal: I had never done overnights because I already had a family when I started doing postpartum doula but a lot of times they’ll come in and they’ll be basically take care of the baby overnight. A lot of doulas will, you know, if the baby is sleeping, doula is sleeping. Doula will get up with baby and meet baby’s needs and if they need to be nurse, you know, wake mom up and you know, get mom back to sleep. They have to sleep. Just to help mom get extra rest.
Sarah Blight: Okay, cool. That sounds pretty smooth. I’m like I need to add that to wish list for my next one. That sounds really awesome. So who is a postpartum doula for? What type of mom really need one?
Lesley Jeruzal: It really can be for any mom. You just have to find the doula that matches your personality best.
I may not be the perfect match for you because, you know, we might have different philosophy or something but I’m not going to judge you on that. I typically recommend meeting with the doula before you had the baby if you can to see if you are a match. Sit down and talk. Most doulas will sit down and do a meet and greet no charge. And doulas will charge anywhere between 12 to $30 an hour depending on precertifications or qualifications, what the timeframe is and what services required from her.
Sarah Blight: Okay, all right. Cool. So that was my next question, how much this typically cost and you nailed that right on the ahead. So why is it important for new moms to consider and to have a postpartum doula?
Lesley Jeruzal: I think it’s really important for new moms to have that non-judgmental support. Sometimes grandma will come in and she set her own agenda. “We’ll, you know, you don’t need to breastfeed because I didn’t breastfeed you and you turned out fine.” Well if mom really wants to breastfeed that’s something she’s passionate about. She is someone who’s going to support her in that choice. She’s going to need someone who can refer her to resources. I’m not like a lactation consultant. I don’t know all the in’s and out’s. I have background to breastfeeding. I’ve done studies with breastfeed. So I can be there like if you’re having problems, I can refer you to a lactation consultant like I have a whole lot of referrals.
If your baby has the need to cope with something else, we can, you know, get you referrals or other things. So I think it’s important for moms to have a postpartum doula just to get that extra support somebody on her side. So you may have grandma [0:06:26] [Inaudible] out over baby get to sleep on their tummy. Doula can come in and say, “Well, the American Academy of Pediatric recommends, you know, babies go sleep in their back to prevent SIDS,” and they can provide you with that fact-based information that other states information and say this is the information, you make the decision.
Sarah Blight: And it sounds like to me having somebody who isn’t part of the immediate family who is an outsider, you know, you tend to listen to these people more. [Laughter]
Lesley Jeruzal: Well, it’s like a mom with no strings attach, no emotional baggage. You know, the doula is that support with no baggage.
Sarah Blight: Yes, yeah. That’s very cool. So if some — if a mom is thinking about hiring one, you mentioned that it’s important to interview, it’s important to talk to some different doulas and find out just to see if you even match with them and it wouldn’t be important I would think for to make sure your husband matches with them too since they’re going to be in your home. So what questions should moms be asking potential doulas, postpartum doulas?
Lesley Jeruzal: If you go to Dona.org, they have a whole DONA — DONA International is an organization that trains both birth and postpartum doulas. They have a whole list of questions on their websites to ask your postpartum doula. You know, what your experience had been, references, background check you have, CPR certification. Different doulas will have different certifications. There are a couple of different organizations of Certified Doulas. You want to make sure that you get someone that you can really trust because they’re going to be in your home. They’re going to be with your baby. You don’t want to hire some, you know, Joe Schmo [0:07:55] [Phonetic] off street to come in to your home. They’re going to be in your home working with your family.
Sarah Blight: So in other words, going to Craigslist in hiring a doula probably isn’t the best idea.
Lesley Jeruzal: [Laughter] Also you know, word of mouth. You know, talking to your friends if they have a postpartum doula or birth doula, who they can recommend. A lot of times midwives and doctors will know who you can call for help. In our town here in West Michigan, we’ve got a wonderful organization called MomsBloom and they hook moms with volunteers who come in to their homes and help them out a couple of times a week and they can always make — I’ve gotten several referrals from MomsBloom. People who want help and don’t need a volunteer to be are able to pay and have gotten several, you know, referrals that way. So getting referrals friends are really a good way to go to.
Sarah Blight: Yeah, and I do want to talk more a little bit about MomsBloom which is an organization that where I got connected with you because it is such a great organization and I know there are several other non-profits like that or like this in different states and I can’t remember exactly what states they’re in but if you Google MomsBloom and you Google like Postpartum Support, I’m sure in your town you can find something. But they are — MomsBloom is this organization that has these amazing volunteers that for free help and support families after the baby comes and I think that is that old school community that we all used to have or we didn’t but our ancestors did back in the day of [0:09:23] [Inaudible] a kid.
And now it’s so hard for us to ask for a help but we need to for our health and safety and our, you know, our family’s well-being and our babies well-being as well. So definitely check out and Google something in your areas because there are maybe a non-profit. If you can’t afford a postpartum doula, there are maybe some volunteers that can help in an organized way. So that’s something to definitely keep in mind. So what — we talked about you need to match with your doula, we’ve talked about questions to ask, what are some good attributes of an effective postpartum doula?
Lesley Jeruzal: Oh, I think just being in touch with her own instincts so she can help mom getting to maternal instincts, very caring, very nurturing. You want to feel like she’s like your mom or like your sister or a really good friend, someone who can listen because a lot of times new moms just need somebody to talk with, you know, someone that you feel comfortable and that you have the confidence in, “Oh okay, my doula showed me how to give my baby a bath,” “My doula showed me a new way to watch my baby so, you know, we can nurse better,” or “Showed me how to wear my baby properly so I don’t hurt my baby or myself.” You want to make sure that your doula has the education and information that is up to date.
Sarah Blight: Okay. So you’ve told us a little bit that, you know, there are different types of postpartum doulas even that there are, you know, the ones that can stay all night and there’s, you know, people like yourself who have their own families and they need to be with them so, you know, you’re more a day doula. So but tell us a little more about why you became a postpartum doula.
Lesley Jeruzal: After I had my second and went in and started going to the support group for postpartum depression, I’d really felt the call to be in touch with other moms because I’ve seen how much other moms that helped me through my postpartum depression. I was like “Wow, it’ll be really cool to be able to help other moms.” I had gone to a breastfeeding support group with my first and second and I initially wanted to be a lactation counselor. I like that would be awesome to be able to help moms, get breastfeeding and you know, it’s successful and I’ve looked in to it and it’s way too many hours and way too much work. And I’m like I’ve got two young kids at home, I can’t do this. And one of the lactation counselors that I had worked with suggested a postpartum doula route for me and I looked in to it and in a weekends training plus some other reading and stuff that I had to look in to.
It was about 2-year process to go through. A lot of requirements but it was something that I could do in my own time and schedule. And I wanted to especially work with moms with postpartum depression because that’s what I went through and to have somebody who’s been in other side to grab your hand and say, “Okay. You can get through this. You can do this.” So it was what I wanted to do for someone else.
Sarah Blight: That’s amazing. Well thank you so much for sharing with us about what you do and I am all about signing up for postpartum doula for our next baby. That sounds amazing. I remember being at home after my mom left and I said goodbye and was sobbing my eyes out and I came home, my husband had gone back to work and I just was like who do I talk to now, you know, who do I talk to all day? So that’s great. I love that and I think a lot of moms don’t realize it that they could really benefit from that and it would make a great shower gift too if it’s not in your budget.
Lesley Jeruzal: Exactly, I’m still good friends with the first family that I do live for so…
Sarah Blight: Oh that’s very cool. So thank you so much, Lesley for sharing with us.
Lesley Jeruzal: Thank you.
Sarah Blight: To all you guys — to all you moms out there, definitely keep postpartum doulas in mind for an option and support. If it’s not in your budget, check out MomsBloom.org and see if there is a similar organization in your area. There is also the DONA website. You can Google that, D-O-N-A. You can find doulas on there, postpartum and birth doulas and try to, you know, interview some options and see what you can if you can find someone that you really connect with. So thank you so much for watching, everybody and we will see you next time.