Since becoming a postpartum doula, there’s been an explosion of new mothers in my life. Whether clients or close friends, I spend a LOT of time talking to women navigating early parenthood.

And more than anything else, it seems like new moms need to talk.

Even the most attentive OB or midwife, won’t be in your home with you between birth and your follow up appointment. Much less three months down the line, when you the instructions you came home from the hospital with no longer apply to the baby you have in front of you.

So here are 10 questions I ask as a postpartum doula in DC and Maryland. (They’re good checkin questions for any loved one to ask, so use them!):

 

  1. How are you?

This one seems obvious. But I find that we have to slow down, and usually ask more than once. She needs to know that we really want to know the answer. And sometimes she may not even know how she is until someone makes her think about it.

 

  1. What’s going on, physically?

Especially in the first few weeks, postpartum recovery is a thing. A body that may have spent 9-10 months growing another human has to find its new normal, usually on less sleep. I’ve take pride in having become a woman who knows a lot about other women’s bathroom habits. It builds trust.

 

  1. Is motherhood like you expected? What’s your favorite thing?

Things rarely go as we plan- especially during birth and parenthood. Newborns don’t give a damn about our plans.

But there can be so much joy in the midst of the unpredictability, if we look for it.

 

  1. What feels hard today?

I take it as a given that the first year of your child’s life isn’t easy. But not everyone has an outlet to admit that. Asking this gives space to express it, and maybe we fix it, or maybe we just vent.

 

  1. What are you binge watching/reading/listening to?

If early parenthood is isolating, it can also be a great time to take in some entertainment- guilt free. (Plus, I’m always looking for #netflixandchill or #musicmonday recommendations.)

 

  1. Have you had any fun lately?

Parenthood isn’t all drudgery and dirty diapers.

Or at least, that’s not the experience I want to doula clients, or people in my life. If the answer is “not since the baby”, let’s expect more. Moms totally deserve fun!  

 

  1. Is there anything you miss from before the baby?

It’s often unspoken, but sometimes even those who are SO excited about parenthood, mourn the changes that come. No longer sleeping through the night, having all day lazy brunches, or leaving the house with just keys, a phone and a wallet is a big change. 

 

  1. Can I take anything off of your to-do list?

The answer is usually yes. And if I hear a no at first, I give examples. “Can I fix dinner , run to the store, paint your toes, or hold the baby while you shower?” 

Sometimes it’s a matter of reminding folks that it’s okay to ask for help.

 

  1. What’s the cutest thing the baby did this week?

I’ve heard from my mom friends that they sometimes hesitate to talk about the baby with child-free folks. But I want to know if the baby is ahead of wonder weeks, finally smiled for real (not gas), if you just recognized Dunstan baby language, or if she learned new baby sign.

Your kid is absolutely the most adorable (until I have mine). Feel free to show off.

 

  1. How’s work/ book club/ your partner?  

We’re whole people before we bring life into the world. And that doesn’t stop after birth. This is just a little reminder that it’s okay to look forward to time with mom friends, the end of maternity leave or finally finding a babysitter for date night.

 

New motherhood is incredibly rewarding! But sometimes rewarding things are hard. And we need people to pay a little extra attention.

That’s what I bring to clients as a postpartum doula. And, I think it’s something we can all bring to the new parents around us.

 

*This post is written with women in mind, because I find that mothers often find themselves as the main caregivers in the newborn period, and have time at home recovering from birth. But regardless of how a person who has given birth identifies, these questions may be good for them too.

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