As I opened my well loved postpartum cookbook to share with an expectant family this week, my fingers followed the dog eared pages that mark my favorite recipes for new mothers. I reminisced that 17 years ago, I was a new mother in the loving care of a beloved postpartum doula, Martha “Ysha” Oakes. Vivid memories of the sweet smell of her cardamom oatmeal infused with ghee, her gentle hand upon my shoulder offering encouragement as I held my son to my breast, and her kind words carrying the traditional wisdom of thousands of years of “mothering the new mother.” One morning during her postpartum doula home visit, she looked deeply into my sleepy eyes and whispered to me, “Michele, if you will surrender to resting in these first forty days, you will live vibrantly for the next forty years.” That surrender into resting and receiving the care of a postpartum doula changed my life. And years later, I became a postpartum doula.
“The idea of a couple growing a family in isolation is new to human society. We need help getting back to ourselves, body, mind, and soul. What we need, in the absence of our families and tribal support systems, is postpartum doulas.”
Postpartum doulas are more golden threads in this ancient continuum of postpartum care that spans centuries and continents. In “The First Forty Days – The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” author Heng Ou shares, “Because this care goes on behind closed doors of family homes, and is passed from woman to woman – from grandmother to granddaughter and midwife to client – it’s not exactly written in the scientific literature or discussed in ten-minute doctor visits. You have to dig to find it. But it is there. Like a golden rope connecting women from generation to the next, the protocol of caring for the new mother by unburdening her of responsibilities and ensuring that she rest and eats shows up in wildly diverse places, from India to Mexico, from Russia to Cambodia, from areas of the Middle East to ethnic communities in North America cities. This rope of care is long and it is strong; it holds families – and societies – together. Its individual threads are the millions of aunts, mother in laws, grandmothers, and neighbors who have, since time immemorial, shown up with soup and clean sheets and a listening ear to serve the woman who has just given birth.”
“A postpartum doula offers a good slice of the care required to get back in the saddle. She brings an open mind, willing heart, and vast array of knowledge about recuperation.”
At Sanctuary Postpartum Doulas, it is our intention to infuse the postpartum experience with richness by honoring mothers and babies innate wisdom with professional, home-based postpartum doula care for up to three months after birth. Our postpartum doulas help you create a sanctuary in your home where your family thrives. We know that on the other side of your birth, your family will continue to thrive in community.
“An anchor, after all, is not a luxury. It’s not a feature of only certain, ‘cultural’ boats. An anchor is a necessity. You don’t set sail without an anchor.”