Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Texting: Trends in Doula Life

One more thing...she now officially hates being on her back. She will sleep so peacefully 
on us then the second we put her down she goes nuts. :) Oh the questions.
That is just one of the text messages that I've received this week. Day or night, weekday or weekend (as my husband will attest!) the messages flow in from clients who are pregnant, newly birthed, or even facing their first nursing strike at 6 months!

I quickly reply by text, which releases a flurry of iPhone alert sounds. Um...I'd better phone her.  My husband and I are good at taking long walks arm in arm, communicating by hand signals, while I'm calming a client on the phone. Forty-five minutes later, I hang up, confident that we have covered all of today's fears (at 41+ weeks, with no baby in sight, there's a lot to cover!) (p.s. She went into spontaneous labour the next day!)

Each morning, I check in with my clients who have just given birth. Many times, it's an opening move of an hour long phone chat.  Other times, my text "How was your night?" or "How's breastfeeding going today?" results in these responses from new mamas...
Breast feeding is pretty good, working on getting a better and more productive latch but overall she feeds great. She is already above her birth weight! (mama at 3 days)
or
Had a phenomenal night. 3 feeds each 3 hrs apart and she went straight back to sleep. It was bliss. (mama at 6 days)
or
She seems inconcolable at night she will feed well at 10 then sleep three hours then one hour naps I'm exhaused (mama at 13 days)

Some women need to see their midwife, family doctor, or lactation consultant, or they might need the name of a good postpartum doula service. Which one above do you think needed a referral? But most women just need to hear me say "I hear you".  Jacquie pep talks are famous!
 You've breastfed successfully before. Confidence (even if you fake it) is key, because your baby is a sponge for feelings. If you're calm, she'll be calm. If you're freaking out...well... (Day 1)
Trust your instincts and keep her skin to skin and nursing as much as humanly possible today and tonight. (Day 2) 
Anticipate another mega feeding (aka breastfeeding bootcamp) night. Try to beat 12 feeds in 24 hours then your milk should be in tomorrow. (Day 3)
Just a reminder that no baby will self-wean before 18 months. Anything that appears like rejection is probably a short-lived nursing strike. Is he teething? Please call me. (7 months)
But it's not just the women who send me text messages.  The dads, the partners, the grandmothers, the midwives, the lactation consultants and the family docs - they all check in. Because this is a team effort!
Hopefully she will feel good about the experience and her decision making. (Family doctor after a birth)
Sounds like still early labour but progressing... (snippet of long family doctor update about a client at home)
Or I will send an update to the client's caregiver (with their permission):
She's thrilled that something is happening. We had a good walk. I came home for dinner. I'll check in with her in a bit. I hope it's tonight! (41 weeks, and baby was born before breakfast.)
When one physician heard that I connect with postpartum clients and caregivers by text, he said, "I like to go the old-fashioned way and meet them face to face." Oh, absolutely! I agree that face to face is best, but is it practical on a daily basis? Does it meet the clients' needs? When a breastfeeding mama is curled up on a sofa and wants to know if she can bath her baby, is it really best to bundle up the baby into a carseat and take a trip across town for a 5 minute doctor visit?

Many postpartum questions do not require a medical visit. Sometimes, just a woman to woman (aka doula) chat is needed. Often, postpartum women just need me to say, "It's a crazy ride, but it's normal!" Face to face is best, but I can also offer an immediate virtual hug via text before popping over for a home visit. Or if my answer to their question is, "I don't know the answer myself, but I know who does," I can recommend that the woman calls her caregiver to make an appointment. One of the reasons why midwifery care is so exemplary is that (in BC), midwives provide multiple postpartum home visits.   And the family practice doctors here are always waiting for a call. My text and phone messages (and Facetime chats) bridge the gap between my clients' visits with their caregivers (and myself)...and boy, do my clients appreciate that!

1 comment:

Abbie W. said...

You sound like the absolutely most amazing, loving, caring doula that I've ever heard/read of- the kind of doula I want to be. I've applied to doula school and can hardly wait. Thank you for your sweet, awesome blog- and I hope I can meet you one day! Would love love love to learn from you.