Demaris Rae Bruce is a trained doula and certified massage therapist specializing in prenatal massage and postpartum care. She has been providing care for new mothers & their families since 1986. A graduate of the Institute for Holistic Studies, and DouLA, Birth Partners of Los Angeles, she now owns & operates A Mother’s Touch, PreNatal Massage & Postpartum Care Service. Demaris lives in Ventura with a very understanding husband and their 3 children, including twin baby girls.
The doorbell rang, and I shivered in excitement with the realization that Heather, my postpartum doula, had arrived. My husband Steven and I had just brought our new baby home from the hospital, and we were already feeling a little scared and awed by the responsibility of caring for a brand new baby.
My girlfriend Anna had hired a postpartum doula because her husband had to return to work right after their baby arrived. Anna raved how much Marie had helped her in many different ways, from assistance with breastfeeding and well baby care to learning to understand her baby’s cues and what to do about them. She answered Anna’s many, many questions, and when she didn’t know the answer, she found out or referred Anna to an expert. All in all, having a doula after the birth of a baby seemed like a great idea, and I started looking for a doula that would be as good as Marie.
I discovered that most doulas provide 4-8 hours of in-home care per day, usually working with a family for several weeks. The fees can run from $15 to $25 per hour. By asking friends and doing a little surfing on the Web, I was fortunate to get the names of several doulas, and decided to interview 3 before I made my decision. The minute I met Heather, I knew she was the right one for us. She was my age, and had a gentle, quiet and caring manner that made me feel very special already. She told me she had studied natural childbirth and had taken special postpartum care training. Having 3 children of her own, she understood the needs of women after having babies. She said that instead of taking care of my baby, she would be taking care of me, so that I could take care of my baby.
We checked Heather’s references and credentials, and decided we wanted her to start the first day we came home from the hospital with our baby. I was nervous about being discharged so soon after the baby’s birth, and worried that I wouldn’t know if I was doing things the right way. Heather told me to relax and trust my motherly intuition, and reassured me that she would be there for me. She explained that she did not function in a medical capacity, and that we would need to contact the appropriate health care provider if necessary. We signed a written agreement, paid a deposit, and left with Heather’s phone number to call her when baby arrived.
In the weeks that followed, Heather called a few times to see how we were doing and to familiarize herself with the household organization
And now that day had arrived! Heather came in, and right away I knew everything was going to work out fine. After admiring our baby and asking about his birth, Heather made sure we were comfortable, and asked me to let her know when Ben woke up, so she could help me with a feeding session. Then she set off for the kitchen, to prepare a light lunch.
The rest of the day rushed by, with Heather happily helping every step of the way. She offered to sit with Ben while I took a shower, and then showed me how to set up a “breastfeeding station” in my favorite part of the house. She made sure I had a supply of diapers nearby, and poured me a fresh glass of water or juice each time I sat down to nurse there.Then she helped me settle him down to sleep, and encouraged me to rest when he did. I sure felt better after a nap!
All in all, it was a quiet first day at home with the baby, and we felt cozy and secure and very supported with Heather there. I was very glad we had decided to hire a postpartum doula, and I was looking forward to learning even more from Heather over the next few weeks. Maybe tomorrow we might even take on Ben’s first sponge bath!