My Postnatal Doula Passion
Postnatal doulaing admittedly has been a doula role, or rather, a doula passion that has grown on me in the past two years. Empowering mums to enjoy birth is my deepest passion and is what led me to becoming a doula, I love birth! I loved my own births, and I always loved supporting other parents through birth.
I use to feel awkward as a postnatal doula, I often never felt i was doing enough with my clients. I rarely took on postnatal jobs on their own for this reason too. Plus I am not good at cooking for one, and I felt in the beginning cooking was important with being a postnatal doula! (Despite being told by my postnatal mentor it wasnt, i didnt listen).
My postnatal passion has grown since meeting Rocio Alarcon, a healer and Ethnobotanist from Ecuador, and offering the skills and philosophy she teaches to my clients. The biggest part of her philosophy being about self care, and healing during the forty days postpartum. Since noticing the huge benefits of Rocio's teachings with my mums since training with her, my confidence in postpartum doulaing has grown immensely.
I still dont cook much though. But if you book one of my doula packages you will very likely get a yummy food package from my doula 'wife' Gemma Harvey, (The Birth Gem, www.thebirthgem.co.uk). Or if i cant buy from Gemma, I go to Lucy Baena who is in Brighton. Both offer nutritious, warming, lovingly made food!
In most cultures I am aware of women not venturing out for forty days as a common practise.
In the UK it was common until recently for women not to go out for 6 weeks, to be looked after by her family. The first outing was to attend church dressed up to introduce the baby to the community. This is still common in areas of Africa, in Greece.
In Greece, I learned through Greek clients, the woman is traditionally fed herbal teas picked from the mountains daily, and a warming shot of a specific alcoholic drink brewed on a specific Greek island, for forty days.
I learned from a Nepalese nurse at work, that in Nepal, his mum and baby sibling were both massaged daily with mustard seed oil and fenugreek by her traditional midwife, who was also her neighbour. He recalled it being within the first days and weeks of his siblings birth. His mother also didnt go out until the midwife said she could, and stayed by the fire.
In Morocco, women are seen as being the closest in life to the thin veil of life, they are special, they have come through birth and need time to heal. In Morocco new mums are called Nafsa. To sit next to one and touch a new mum can give you great luck. I learned about Moroccan healing from Layla B, a doula with a passion on reviving Moroccan traditions and supporting traditional midwives. The traditional midwives in Morocco offer Closing the bones ritual every other day, thry bring warming foods only, and offer vaginal steaming with healing herbs.
In central, South American coutries practises seem similar, a forty day rest, with daily, alternate, or weekly (depending on the country, womans health, and midwife) closing ritual massage called Cerada. They give warming food and drink for forty days, and herbs freshly picked daily.
💜 Closing the bones is a traditional postnatal practise. It uses scarfs to massage, and wrap the pelvic area of a women by helping close the hips, by encouraging healinh of the cartilage by the pubic bone. It brings blood to the pelvic area to heal. The hands on massage speaks to the organs in the womb to encourage them to heal and move into their place. It is an energy healing too and seems to touch on accupressure.
It is also common to remain wrapped daily around the hips. Even in Holland women wear a postnatal girdle.
💜 Vaginal steaming, is where a mix of healing herbs is put together, usually local fresh herbs. Infused in hot water and the mother sits over the steam allowing the herbs and steam to relax the muscles, bring blood to the area for healing and of course allows the herbs to work their magic. (*some herbs such as comfrey cant be used with infection because it can heal the skin locking the infection in. But is great for postpartum healing with no infection. Seek advice from a medical herbalist if you are concerned.)
Along with warming foods for forty days, in central and south America special ceremonial Cacao is made and drunk either daily, alternate days, or weekly depending on the culture. It is roasted, peeled, heated in water with warming local and fresh herbs and spices.
There are other practices too, one Ramiro Ramirez taught doulas on a workshop in Sussex whereby the cacao is heated in oil with rose petals and placed around the breast and womb hot from the pan for healing. (Admittedly i havent done this apart from on myself because its messy). But cacao is a master plant that opens the heart chakra as are rose petals so i understand its to bring blood and healing to the areas plus promoting self care and love too. I wish we had a similar verson in the uk so we didmt have to ship it over sadly but apart from our mushrooms which I doubt would be popular with most parents postnally haha, there isnt anything.
If you know of something do get in touch! Im a believer we have something we just arent aware yet because we have lost so much knowledge of traditional postnatal healing.
Accupressure workshops I have attended and teachings from my sacred drum teacher, Steven Ash have also suggested that in Chinese medicine it is important to remain warm during the early postpartum weeks too. If an area gets cold it restricts blood vessels and reduces the energy flow in the meridian lines of the body. So it makes sense again to remain warm, wrapped, and eat warming foods postnatally for increased healing.