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Postpartum Doula Experience: Chats At Midnight

I recently started night shifts with a postpartum client. This was their first baby, and the little squish was one week old. The parents were doing SUCH a great job adjusting to the postpartum period and had prepared really well with things like making freezer meals, stocking up on essentials, limiting outside visitor time, etc. However, when I showed up for my shift, I noticed they seemed a little worried. Now, there is "new parent not sleeping and everything is hard" worried, and there is a "I'm genuinely concerned" worried.

While they were clearly in the first camp, we did discuss who and when to call if they ever suspected an issue with baby or mom.

A man and woman sit next to each other on a couch, with their heads touch. The mother is holding a newborn infant in one arm.

Once that was covered, I sat for a while and just let them share more about how the week had gone, what they were observing from baby, and what kind of things had them checking Google at 3 am (never a good idea, by the way).

These parents were honestly just looking for someone to confirm what was "normal".

While I am not a medical provider, I do have 10+ years as a postpartum doula, and our agency has served hundreds of local families in the Richmond area.

Here's what we went over:

Normal-Noisy Baby Sleep

Many people are surprised by how NOISY newborn sleep can be. Lots of little squeaks, snuffles, hiccups, and sometimes little grunts or whimpers. Because a portion of baby sleep is "active sleep"-which you can read about HERE-noises and movements are totally normal while they rest.

If you do notice that the noises or movements change abruptly, or hear things that sound like gagging/congestion, reach out to a medical provider and let them know. They can give you a more detailed idea of exactly what to watch out for or what might be a cause for concern.

Normal-Yellow Stool

We go over exactly what to expect from diapers and how to use diaper counts to confirm good milk intake in our Baby Basics class (check it out HERE). However, it's common to see baby stool change gradually from meconium black to yellowish and seedy around days 4-7. Note: If a baby is receiving formula, the stools may be a bit firmer and darker/browner in color.

A chart detailing normal newborn diaper outputs, including color and number

Normal-Baby Preferring Close Contact With Mom

Your baby is adjusting to the world outside of the womb. It's a loud, bright place with fluctuating temperatures and lots of unfamiliar sensations. They've been warm, swimming around in amniotic fluid, and surrounded by the sounds of your heart for 9 months. It makes sense, especially from a biological standpoint, that they would feel most at peace when in your arms and preferably, against your skin. If your infant only wants to relax and sleep on you, please know that it's not something you're doing wrong, and it's not abnormal. Mama, you're basically magic! When in doubt, snuggle up with your newborn and help them regulate with that close, physical contact with mom (and dad).

Not Normal-Pain While Nursing

While some discomfort is normal in the first week or so of nursing, ongoing discomfort or pain shows that something needs attention. There's a few different things that can cause pain while breastfeeding, but a lactation specialist like an IBCLC is going to the best person to explore this with you. They should provide weight check-ins, observe you during a nursing session, thoroughly inspect baby's body and mouth for tissue tension or restrictions (like tongue or lip ties), and give you plenty of time to hear your questions and concerns. If you're not sure how to find a local to you IBCLC, check out the Lactation Network, where they help you find providers in your area that also take insurance, or head over HERE to sign-up to see our lactation team, either in your home, our office, or even virtually.

Did you have anything that was normal but surprising with your first baby? Please share in the comment section!

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