Welcome, Hallie! Tell us about you! You own and operate Better Beginnings, offering postpartum doula care service. Many women today are told they birth and then are supposed to pop back to normal. What does Better Beginnings provide during those tender early days, weeks, and months of recovery?
We provide physical, emotional, and informational support to mothers and families as they welcome new babies into their lives. For first-time parents, this can include newborn care education catered to their questions, and practicing newborn care techniques like swaddling or soothing with their own equipment and their real baby, instead of a doll during a class.
For more experienced parents, we may focus on sibling adjustment and how big brother or sister is doing with the transition of adding baby into the mix. For all parents, we emphasize rest and recovery from childbirth, and offer lactation support if they’re breastfeeding, or bottle-feeding tips if they’re not. We also check in with moms and dads about their emotional wellbeing, and tend to household tasks such as laundry, dishes, and meal prep.
Honestly, we’ve been told by many of our clients that because of our support, they felt they were truly able to enjoy their postpartum time and their newborn more than they otherwise would have. We’ve also heard it’s an investment in the marriage. ;)
You’re right, Nell. Those early days and weeks and months are tender, and unique. They deserve nonjudgmental support that’s specialized for that time in a family’s life. We allow women, in particular, the space and time they need to transition into motherhood, whether for the first time or the fifth.
On your own journey as a mother, what have you found necessary in the postpartum phase? And did that inspire you in the first place to found Better Beginnings? Can you share a little about your journey as mother and business owner?
When my first baby was born 7 years ago, I experienced relatively severe injuries that required me to stay in bed for the first two weeks. I was also trying to learn how to breastfeed a sleepy, jaundiced premature baby. I remember feeling so isolated and somewhat abandoned after all the attention and care given during pregnancy and childbirth.
My husband was incredibly involved and supportive, but I felt the lack of other women with whom I could process the birth and lean on with my questions and feelings. I needed a different kind of support. I needed support of another woman who had been there and who could walk alongside me.
When we had our second child 16 months later, I unfortunately experienced postpartum anxiety and depression. It was around that time that I made up my mind to serve other mothers, as accompaniment and support in the days and weeks and months following birth.
I remember thinking, “Ok, this is the second time around, and I still feel like this postpartum part is way harder than the rest of it (pregnancy and birth). This needs to change. It shouldn’t be this way for mothers.” For me, it was definitely a vocation and is definitely a passion.
I believe a well mother means a well baby, and a well family. I love empowering other women to parent with confidence and to enjoy the gift that is a new child.
I now have four children myself, and as Better Beginnings has grown, I’ve held onto that passion for postpartum support.
Who is on your postpartum doula team? What does being a postpartum doula mean? Are there trainings and certifications for the role?
Our postpartum doula team is made up of 9 incredible women who all seek to serve mothers and families in providing that physical, emotional, and informational support from a professional standpoint.
We all bring our own unique gifts to the team. For example, one of us is a professional chef, one of us is a professional photographer, one of us is a grandma, one of us had twins of her own, and one of us is a professional nanny and newborn care specialist.
To be a certified postpartum doula (which most of us are), you go through a training that is three long days, do a significant amount of reading, have qualifying certifying experiences working with families, take a breastfeeding course, write a paper, and get approved once you send in all your certification materials. From there, you have to gain continuing education credits to maintain your certification.
Everyone who calls herself a postpartum doula must have at least done the training, even if they choose not to be certified.
Is there a typical client? Do you find families from all walks of life calling and contacting you about your services?
There isn’t necessarily a typical client, though some trends we see are: families who have recently moved to the area or who don’t have a lot of family or friends nearby who are able to help, first-time parents recognizing that they haven’t had much experience with babies before, wise experienced parents who know how hard it can be to rest and recover when you have other little ones running around, and couples who have heard fantastic things about us from their friends who we worked with earlier.
What do you wish you had known after your first or second birth? What’s your advice for a woman who is newly postpartum?
I wish I had taken more seriously the need to care for myself physically. Specifically, I wish I had rested more and sought out a physical therapist to help me with my pregnancy and birth-related injuries. I also wish I had been more specific with family and friends who had offered to help.
Oftentimes, these well-intentioned people don’t really know what to do for you or don’t want to disturb you, so you really have to reach out to them to make anything happen.
That would be my advice: to ask people for specific ways to help, so you can focus on rest and recovery, and so you don’t feel isolated.
For our pregnant readers, how soon is too soon to call to set up their postpartum care? Because postpartum is so individual for each mother depending on how her labor and delivery went, depending on how her baby is adjusting to life earthed, depending on her available leave from work or number of other children at home, how do you work with your clients to meet each individual’s needs?
Most clients hire us in their second trimester or early in their third trimester. While we certainly are happy to work with families who have already birthed their babes, I feel clients get more out of the experience when they hire us prenatally. That way, we can hone in on what they want most from their experience, and what we can help with before baby comes so that everything is in place and the mama is set up for success.
Also, whenever you’re working in the field of childbirth, the need for flexibility is paramount, as we never quite know when these sweet little ones will decide to debut.
Where can our readers find out more about your offerings and which social media channels are your favorite?
Please visit our website and poke around!
Some of our favorite social media channels are Scary Mommy (hilarious), Raven Ivory Photography (gorgeous photos and films), Little Peach London (normalizing breastfeeding, plus lots of good lactation info), Motherly (lovely little films centering on motherhood), Twin Cities Moms Blog (great pieces on all things parenting), and Pregnancy & Postpartum Support MN (wonderful organization devoted to perinatal mental health).
Okay, very important last question. Ice cream during pregnancy: what’s your favorite flavor?
Peanut Butter S’mores from Aldi or Black Hills Gold from Grand Ole Creamery. Soooo goood.
photo credits: Jayme Jo Ebert of Much Love & Chocolate.