Postpartum Care Discussion with Lanny Dowell
The smiling, pink-cheeked baby napping in his mother’s arms. The fit mom back in her running tights and out with the jogging stroller just a few weeks after giving birth. The perfectly decorated, immaculate nursery. The picture that social media paints of parenthood bears little or no resemblance to real life. New parents are likely to be short on sleep, showers, and confidence, which can make a tough job even tougher. But there’s someone who can help—a doula. Lanny Dowell, head of GBMC’s Doula Touch Program and parent education coordinator, sat down with Mary Beth Marsden to talk about how a doula can support new moms and families and ease the transition into parenthood.
“A doula is a trained specialist who can be present with you during labor and delivery and post-partum to provide support, advocate for you, and answer questions,” says Lanny, who has been a doula at GBMC for more than 20 years. “People used to hear the word doula and get an earthy, crunchy vibe, but it’s really not like that at all. We’re here to make this experience better for mothers and families. You spend nine months preparing for your baby’s birth, but really no time getting ready for the days and months after the birth. We’re here to help you prepare for what’s not expected—the lack of sleep, a baby who’s having trouble nursing or bottle feeding, the chores that it seems you never have the time to get to now that the baby’s here.”
Lanny and Mary Beth also talked about the role a doula can play in helping recognize signs of post-partum depression and connecting new mothers with treatment, how doulas also help partners and siblings make the adjustment to a new baby in the house, and why bonding with your baby is a different experience for each woman.
“After your baby is born, your OB/GYN schedules you for a check-up in six weeks, but we’re here for what happens during those six transitional weeks and beyond if wanted,” Lanny explains. “Being a parent is hard work and you don’t just automatically know how to handle everything because you’ve given birth. A doula can take things off your plate, helping with the baby and siblings, handling household chores like grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry, and caring for the baby overnight so you can get the good night’s rest you need to recover. We take those things on, so you can enjoy the moments with your family.”