Transcript: The Benefits of Doula Services and How They Help Improve Newborn Care
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called The Benefits of Doula Services and How They Help Improve Newborn Care and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: I often highlight and discuss on First Time Mum’s Chat, the importance of having the right mix of people ready to support you when you’ve given birth and adapting to your new life with that additional member of your family, that demands so much of your time.
Doulas provide invaluable support and assistance, and in this week’s episode, I’m chatting with postpartum doula, Heather Magill. Heather brings calm, confidence and connection into the lives of families with new babies, and you’ll hear her talk about the wonderful support she provides to families she works with.
You’ll hear Heather talk about how doulas help your family unit by taking care of your whole family’s physical and emotional needs. How doulas draw on their wealth of experience from supporting numerous families to help you, highlighting what they feel need to be acted on, how doulas are great listeners, and take the time to build meaningful relationships with the families they work with, instead of simply offering brief 10 – 15 minute appointments.
And so, so much more.
Hi Heather, and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. I’m delighted to be chatting with you today and finding out about how you as a doula help support families. So can you start by telling us a wee bit about you and your background?
Heather Magill: Thank you, I am so happy to be here. Thank you for this opportunity to come and have this conversation. So my name is Heather Magill. I am a postpartum doula. I have a business called Infant Concierge, where I serve families with new babies to help them find more calm, confidence and connection, during that transition of adding a baby to their family.
So I work with families in person in the Boston, Massachusetts area of the United States where I live and I also work with families virtually through one-on-one support, teaching classes and hosting groups.
Helen Thompson: Wow, you do a lot. How important do you feel is it to have support for first time mums?
Heather Magill: I believe that support is essential for a healthy experience. I think it can be very difficult to find support, since it’s not kind of built into our culture the way that it is traditionally built into other cultures. I’ve obviously seen a lot of families who have made it through with little to no support. I did not plan for adequate support when I gave birth to my first, so I know how it is and I think it’s possible. We as mothers and as parents, we’re strong, we can make it through, but the quality of the experience and our mental health and our relationships with ourselves and our families, all of those things and our physical health as well, is really benefited and protected by having support in place.
Helen Thompson: I definitely agree with you on that. I think a lot of families think, oh, I’ll get through it, I’ll be fine and then they realize, oh, help I’m not coping with this, I need this support. You do virtual support as well as helping moms in your own community, and doulas are wonderful, by the way, I love doulas. They do such a good job, and I think people don’t realize how powerful doulas are.
Heather Magill: So I think people don’t realize a lot when it comes to the different supports that are available and the value of them. It’s not something that we talk about enough in our culture, which is why I’m so happy to be here on the podcast having this conversation with you.
Helen Thompson: You mentioned that people don’t discuss it very often and I know a lot of people have mood depression with newborns. There’s so many options out there for them. Especially when somebody’s going through postnatal depression, they think, oh, no, no, I’m fine, I’m coping. They may or they may not be, but they just push through it. So what do you do as a doula to support that?
Heather Magill: Yeah, I think we kind of have these two cultural images. Either we hear like the diaper commercial, beautiful, you know, smiley, happy baby, everyone is wonderful image. Or we hear the horror stories. People that we know, they dump these terrible stories on us of all of these things and I think, somewhere in the middle, there’s that experience where we all kind of have thoses blissful moments and those challenging moments. A lot of people don’t realize how common it is to have those postpartum mood disorders and the anxiety and the depression and there’s a whole variety of things that can come up. I think just talking about it makes a big difference because people often think they’re the only one having those experiences and then we all kind of go through these hard experiences thinking we’re the only ones, and cuz we don’t wanna talk about it and admit to that.
I think also a symptom of those mood disorders sometimes is the inability to recognize it. So having other people, and this is a big part of my role as being a person in the room or, in the experience virtually, but someone who has experience with many different families experience and just bringing in that perspective where, I see this happen all the time, I noticed this thing that maybe concerns me a little bit. So I would say, you might wanna bring this up to your doctor or talk to someone about this, cause that’s something that I think may be a little bit concerning. Or I might say, this is something that I see all the time, it’s normal, it’s something that happens.
So a lot of families don’t have that perspective because most people that I know who are having babies, have never really spent that much time around babies before they have their own baby and around postpartum people, so they don’t know what it’s like and they don’t have that realistic image. So I think a big part of what I do is just that perspective. So I don’t have the, the medical or the clinical knowledge to come in and diagnose a certain condition. But I can just give that perspective based on the number of families that I’m familiar with and how that experience typically goes.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, having somebody like you to help with that is good. I think you’ve also gotta do it gently as well. You don’t wanna just go barging in there. I think it’s really important to just support them as gently and as lovingly as you can without telling them that they’re not doing it right.
Heather Magill: Yeah, exactly and I meet families where they are and there’s so many things that isn’t necessarily a matter of right and wrong, it’s a matter of what’s working for you, what’s working for your family, what feels good in your situation.
I also do see my role kind of primarily as listening. I’m spending hours and large amounts of time with the family, so I can really both listen to their words and observe how things are going. It’s a different relationship than say, with a doctor where maybe you have a 10, 15 minute appointment and it’s get in, get out, check all the boxes, how are you doing? Oh, I’m great, thanks, okay, bye, see you later. If I’m sitting there on the couch with you, you’re feeding your baby, we’re chatting and it’s just a much more relaxed environment and I think being able to build up that relationship and spending more time with the families is really helpful.
Yeah, like I said, before I speak and offer any advice or suggestions, I spend a lot of time listening and trying to really understand how people are feeling and how they’re responding, because it’s different for everyone.
Helen Thompson: Do you do that with the husband as well, or is that just with the mom or is it with the whole family?
Heather Magill: Yeah, my role is to support the whole family. Most of the time, I’m obviously spending the most amount of time with the mom and doing most of that listening with her and spending time with her, but It obviously depends on the family and who’s around. Yeah, there are definitely situations where I find myself supporting the dad.
It’s wonderful for me to get as many family members involved as possible, if it’s a family with older children, sometimes I spend a lot of time interacting with the older children. So I’m really there just to meet whatever needs happen to be within that particular family.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, because I know from what I do with baby massage, I know how important the role is for the dad as well because it is important for the dad to be able to bond and communicate with the baby and the rest of the family just as much as it is for the mother. I think sometimes dads are very much there to support everybody, but yet they don’t really get the bonding time because the mom’s the one that maybe is breastfeeding or changing the diaper because he’s at work and I think it’s important for him to be included as well. So that’s what I like about what you say you do that you support the whole family because it needs a whole family support rather than just one person like the mother. Would you agree with that?
Heather Magill: Definitely and I’ve had various experiences working with clients. For example, sometimes I’ve helped the dad to figure out if he has a baby wearing carrier that he wants to use, help him to figure out how to use that and get comfortable with that and enjoy doing that. Or, if it’s a situation where the mom maybe goes out for an hour and goes to have a coffee or something by herself, and maybe the dad is feeling a little nervous about being responsible for the baby. So just to kind of be there as a support person for him as he gets used to taking care of the baby by himself. So definitely when there’s a need for that, I’m very much there for that too and it’s a great part of the role.
Helen Thompson: Yes, I can imagine and also the siblings. Sometimes siblings can be a bit over jealous, they can be a bit overexcited and they want to pick up the baby and touch the baby and you want them to be able to do that. You wanna encourage them to do that, but you’ve also got to be responsible and say, look, yes, when you pick up a baby, this is what you do. You teach them what to do rather than tell them not to do it, if that makes sense.
Heather Magill: Yeah exactly and sometimes I’ll hang out with a baby and let mom and the sibling have that time together that is so much more difficult to get too.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, cuz I think it’s good for moms to have that time with the other sibling cuz sometimes they don’t have that opportunity because then the sibling gets jealous because the new baby’s there and I guess that’s all part of supporting the mom because you’ve gotta support the mom for both kids as well.
Heather Magill: Yeah it all fits together.
Helen Thompson: So if anybody wants to get in touch with you to find out more about what you do, how do they go about doing that?
Heather Magill: Well, I do have a website that is infantconcierge.com and that has information about the different services that I provide. I have a blog on there as well, and I have a free download which is a guide for expectant parents to think about and plan for the support that they’re going to need when they have a baby. It covers many different things, conversations to have with your partner, resources that you can gather them all together in one place to have to look at them in the future. There’s some journal pages. So that’s all on my website and I’m also on social media. I’m on Facebook and Instagram at infantconcierge.
Helen Thompson: Thank you Heather for that. Before you go, is anything that you want to mention that we haven’t already covered?
Heather Magill: Oh, there’s so much I could, I could talk about postpartum things all day long. It’s really a fascination and an interest of mine. I think I’ll just leave you by saying that it is something that we all go through. It’s a major stage, I think. For myself, I remember when I was pregnant with my first thinking, I’ve babysat before, newborn sleep 15 hours a day, it’s gonna be fine, I’ll be fine. I was living actually overseas far away from my normal support network and I just didn’t realize how important that was and how it’s not just when you have a baby, it’s not just the baby that needs to be taken care of, but it’s the mom and the parents and the whole family need to be taken care of as well.
Physically, emotionally, there’s a major transition that happens for everyone. So, I encourage people to take as much care and preparation for that side of becoming a parent as they would for maybe planning a baby shower and getting a registry and setting up the nursery and all that stuff is really fun and exciting but don’t forget about your own experience and how to support your health as well.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, you mentioned you were away from your family. That’s why I started First Time Mum’s Chat because I think it’s great for moms to be able to find a platform that they can have professionals and other people and other moms that they can share and communicate with because that’s part of being a supportive village.
That’s why I wanted to get involved and speak to people like you. The more people that hear about the support that’s out there and hearing other moms giving their experiences, knowing that moms are not alone, I think is so valuable and so important.
Heather Magill: Yeah, I agree with you 100%.
Helen Thompson: Okay, thank you so much for being here. I’ve really enjoyed talking to you, Heather.
Heather Magill: Thank you, me too. Thank you so much for having me, it was a pleasure.
Helen Thompson: I’ve chatted with a number of postpartum doulas on First Time Mum’s Chat, and I can certainly see why they’re a crucial part of any mom’s support network, after they’ve given birth. It seems to me that they have a lot to offer as you adapt to your new life with another mouth to feed. Also, it’s easy to focus all your energies on your little one, which can result in your partner and any siblings feeling left out, so their support is invaluable in helping your overall family unit.
I’ve included links to Heather’s website, social media, and her free guide for expected parents, which she mentioned during our chat in the show notes, which can be found at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/126.
I’ve also included links to several other episodes where I chatted with postpartum doulas, which I’m sure you will find of interest, so please take a look.
On the First Time Mum’s Chat podcast, I’ve spoken with a number of doulas, who provide help to families, and I’m regularly asked for tips and suggestions from moms. Is this an area that you would like to know more about or do you have any questions relating to it? If so, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me via email at email@example.com.
I also share each episode on the First Time Mum’s Chat Instagram page and you’ll hear me chatting with folks I’ve interviewed from time to time. Please support me by following me and I look forward to meeting you during one of my lives.
Next week, I’m chatting with mental health coach and postpartum educator, Michelle Solger, who is deeply dedicated to supporting mothers during their transformative postpartum journey. We’ll be talking about what happens with your hormones following birth, as well as ways to improve your mental health postpartum.
Be sure to listen to this episode when it comes out next week and please subscribe to First Time Mum’s Chat via your favorite platform so that you get quick and easy access to all our episodes when they are live.