My neighbor had a baby three weeks ago. My two daughters and I had talked about preparing food for them for months in advance and they had lots of input about the newborn vest that I was knitting. I had the honor of meeting this particular baby the night after she was born and seeing the golden glow of her proud mother.
Being with my friend in the tender days of postpartum felt natural; like the way humans evolved to connect with each other within their tribe. And yet, as easy and instinctive as it should be, many American families feel isolated and overwhelmed. We tend to trust the “experts” rather than our communities and buy stuff rather than spending time. This is the time to change our anger and stress into love by nurturing one mother at a time.
America needs doulas to witness the pride of a brand new mother- to marvel with her - to listen to the small and big details of her story. America needs doulas to prepare nutritious food for new families so that bodies can heal with the aid of warming and comforting food.
I was summoned to visit them on day three. This is a notoriously hard day when the milk comes in and hormones go haywire. I got mother and baby comfortably settled and sent dad and older sister off to do some errands. I gave hugs and validated the realness of the shift in her family.
America needs doulas to listen to mother's struggles and celebrations and help them settle into the slow pace of life with a newborn.
I gave her recommendations for lactation counselors and set up a meal train for friends to drop off dinner when her husband goes back to work.
America needs doulas to connect new families with professionals to ease their transition and encourage their wellness. America needs doulas to help moms find their village so that they have a empathetic support system.
But I would say even more fundamental than doulas: America needs women to care for women. America needs to value motherhood. We need to form communities where this kind of postpartum care is standard and not considered a luxury.
Here’s what YOU can do for your pregnant neighbors:
Bring them food when a baby is born. A simple, home cooked meal that is prepared with great love.
Listen to her birth story. Admire her baby. Tell her she is a wonderful mother.
Do helpful things. Don’t even ask - give hugs, back rubs and tell her to text you her grocery list.
Involve your children in your preparation. Let the next generation know what it looks like to care for each other and show them what kind of love they deserve when they have their own babies.