It doesn’t take a pandemic to keep grandparents from being able to help out after a new baby arrives. Work schedules, finances, geography, ill health—there are many reasons why you may not be able to be on the scene to help the new parents. That doesn’t mean you can’t help out, though. In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some ways that you can support new parents without being there.
Today, we’ll hear from Sheryl Cooksley, a postpartum doula from Family Tree Doula Services. Enjoy!
Not so long ago, grandparents were allowed inside the hospitals, birth centers or homes where their latest grandbaby (or babies) was being born. Not now.
Grandparents could fly across the country without hesitation and race in to see the new family all in the same day. Not now.
Grandparents were retired, empty nesters with unlimited time on their hands to provide endless joyful hours providing care to the new family. Not now.
Although grandparents had to be very cautious, especially during flu season, they did not have to follow the protocols that are becoming the new normal during this pandemic. Washing hands and using hand sanitizer has always been a requirement to be around new babies, but donning masks, self-isolation, even quarantining are all present-day necessities for new grandparents. These obstacles may leave grandparents feeling helpless and angry.
They wanted to cook meals and fold those cute tiny baby clothes and HOLD THEIR GRANDBABY. They wanted to guide the new parents using the knowledge they gathered in their grandparenting class and from a lifetime of caring for children and babies. They took the time to get up-to-date and learn all about the mountains of baby gear, new parenting philosophies and grandparent etiquette. They had planned on doing the night shift and making sure the new parents were well prepared to be on their own. They were ready to be the best grandparents (and parents) EVER.
This was not how it was supposed to be!
This was not what they had planned.
So now what? What CAN they do that is safe and makes sense? Well, if they cannot be there in person, they CAN be at the other end of a video call on Zoom or WhatsApp offering moral and emotional support. But what about the physical care and support that cannot be done virtually?
Enter the postpartum doula. A postpartum what?!? Doula. Postpartum doulas, like those at Family Tree Doula Services, provide emotional, physical, and instructional support to new parents. They are professionally trained to provide non-judgmental and unbiased care and information. They have been trained in newborn care, care of the birthing person or new parent, and how to recognize Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. They are up to date on all the latest safety protocols for babies and know how to find the resources that new parents are just too tired to look up. Most of all, postpartum doulas take new parents from feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and fearful, to confident and prepared to go it alone with their new baby. Doulas provide daytime or overnight (everyone’s favorite) care, help with sleep strategies and support all forms of infant feeding.
How can grandparents help if they cannot be present to help?
They can learn more about postpartum doulas and, since they cannot be present at the birth or nearby to help postpartum, they can broach the subject of hiring a postpartum doula with the parents-to-be. Grandparents across the country can look up postpartum doulas in the new parents’ area and help pay for hours of care. Once parents have found the postpartum doula they love, preferably one that offers gift certificates, has services that are able to be added to BabyList, or accepts payments from anyone who wants to help, grandparents can offer financial support in lieu of being physically present. It is the gift they CAN give. And it is far more helpful than a big pile of baby “stuff”. Grandparents can make the process that much easier for the parents-to-be by vetting the services first, making the calls to check on the doula’s availability, and then providing a list of their top 3 postpartum doula care providers (with links to the websites, of course).
Grandparents and postpartum doulas make a great team. Together they are helpful additions to the New Family Team. (Ok…and even knowing about postpartum doulas elevates your “cool” status A LOT!)