It’s no secret that having a baby comes with a lot of sleepless nights. And most of the time, you’ve got to just buckle in and deal with them until your baby is old enough to sleep through.
there are strategies that you can implement to help you maximize your awake time to minimize your awake time.
5 Ways Working With a Virtual Postpartum Doula Helped
My client Tiffany was having a tough time with her 6-day old baby girl. It wasn’t just the lack of sleep- her husband had gone back to work so she was doing the days and nights on her own and she was done.
1) Crushing the Mom Guilt
First of all, I want to say- I get why she felt the need to do it all. Her husband was working and I’m sure she placed a high value on the fact that he was the only breadwinner in the house. I’ve gone through this, and I totally understand feeling guilty for not being able to contribute financially. But it’s unhealthy for only one person to be up day and night.
There's no "i" in team, so ditch the guilt and let your partner help you. You’ve gotta take turns and hand-off a few shifts a week so you can get some rest.
2) Improved Communication With Partner After Birth
So Tiffany needed permission to speak up and have a conversation with her husband about how exhausted she was. We talked about her feelings and I assured her they were valid. We worked through some of the ways she could accept help from her husband so that when she talked to him, he had some actionable steps to take.
This was really important because he wanted to help, but Tiffany couldn’t quite tell him how without feeling guilty.
We used the framework from my Postpartum Planning Guide to get the conversation started- you can grab a downloadable copy of your own by clicking the images below:
3) Creating a Sleep Plan for New Families
Then we talked about night feedings: how long was she awake doing things like feeding, changing, burping and soothing? She was breastfeeding, so obviously she had to be awake for that, but on the nights that she wasn’t ‘on baby duty’ her husband could do all of it and just bring the baby to her in bed for the feedings.
You may wonder,
why bother waking up both parents if she has to wake up to feed anyhow?
But there’s a huge reason: feeding a small baby can take 10-30 minutes. All the other stuff can take just as long, if not longer! When her baby is brought to her, she can stay in bed and settle back to sleep a lot faster.
So, we made them a sleep plan for the nights that dad was helping out. It went like this:
Wake up as soon as the baby starts to make noises of waking up
Change her diaper (and remove her clothing for skin to skin feedings)
Keep the lights low, the chatting minimal
Take her to Tiffany in bed to feed
While baby was feeding, tend to any clean up you may need from #2
When the feeding is finished take her back to burp her, check her diaper again, dress and swaddle her, soothe her back to sleep.
Did the plan always go off without a hitch? Hell no. But they both felt a little more in control knowing who was going to be doing what and when.
And her husband started to love those night time sessions with just him and his baby.
He felt like more of a participant in her care than a third wheel.
4) Breastfeeding Support
Breastfeeding is a learned skill, not an instinct that every woman and baby has. It takes a lot of practice and patience. The problem with the practice is that if your latch isn’t perfect, you’ll get sore nipples very fast. When you hear your friends talk about how painful breastfeeding was, a bad latch is almost always the reason. Check out this resource for a Guide to Early Breastfeeding
But how do you know a good latch from a bad latch?
After watching Tiffany breastfeed over a Zoom call, I could see that she wasn’t getting the breast tissue deep enough into the baby’s mouth. She was ‘nipple feeding’ when she should have been breastfeeding. So, we talked about some tips to correct her latch: head positioning for the baby, different positions for Tiffany’s comfort and the importance of listening for her swallows. Then we talked about how she could benefit from a visit from a Lactation Consultant to make sure they were on the right track and the baby was gaining weight.
Keep in mind that we did all of this over a video call.
Tiffany and her baby went on the breastfeed for 18 months!
5) Strategies to Deal with New Mom Loneliness
It’s so weird to think that you have another person in your life after your baby arrives, but you feel lonelier than ever. The isolation (especially the past year) can be excruciating. The lack of freedom that you once had is a really tough transition for a lot of new moms.
Tiffany took advantage of virtual doula services and we stayed connected through texting, emails and regular video calls to ensure that she always had someone to chat with and work things through. She didn’t need to speak to me every day, but she said she couldn’t have gotten through her postpartum without knowing I was just a text away.
When Tiff felt like she was over the hump of her postpartum recovery, she joined the MamaSoup community to find other moms and supports in her own community.
Tiffany’s new family was amazing to work with and I’m so glad I could help support them from afar. Not everyone needs as much or more support, and that’s why I’m happy to customize virtual doula support services to suit the needs of my clients.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to be part of your birth or postpartum story- I just want to help you write the one that looks perfect for YOU.