Processing Your Birth

Birth is not just a physical event. As our bodies heal in the following months from delivery, so do our minds.

There is much to process after baby is born. We continue to process our pregnancy, the stages of labor, delivery (and sometimes the complications that we associate), the journey to feed our baby-- all while our bodies heal, hormones shift, and sleep deprivation sets in (and we mentally process that too! We’re amazing).

The best way to evolve through this complex experience is through talking to someone who is equipped to listen and (when necessary, which is not all the time) provide insight.

Depending on the complexity, us doulas will sometimes refer families to a doctor. We do this when we recognize signs of anxiety, OCD, and depression. I most often see these when a mom has not had the opportunity to process her birth or there remains unresolved feelings of inadequacies, failure, isolation, and disappointment—anything outside of the normal baby blues.

To squash these feelings before they happen (and sometimes talking is enough prevention), It's important to schedule time with a postpartum doula.

The benefits to scheduling time to process your birth

  • Resolves feelings of inadequacies and failure

  • Let's you be heard and not judged

  • Allows you to gain valuable insight into ways/options you can heal (rebirth, skin to skin, etc)

  • Could potentially free you of negative feelings attached to delivery

What that time looks like varies from client to client. To learn more, give the Modern Doula a call.

new mom and baby

Exclusive Pumpers, this one's for you


Get comfortable— for the next few blog posts, I want to focus on infant feeding.

Before a baby is born, we have the best intentions to breastfeed. It's biologically normal and most people are able to learn how to do it with the right help. But it's not that simple.

There are two parties involved when it comes to breastfeeding, parent and baby. And while we get to know our baby from the inside of our bodies for roughly nine/ten months, we don't know in advanced what challenges might await until baby latches…or doesn't.

No parent, after a baby is born and says, “I can't wait to hook my boobs up to a machine to pull the milk out,” but for some of us, that's what we have to do.

From lip ties to tongue ties to returning to work, many mothers have to contend with electric and manual pumps.

I, myself, have been manually pumping for going on ten months! That's right. My hands are SO strong now (and uh…arthritic). Below is one mother's very difficult journey into Exclusively Pumping. What. A. Badass.


Exclusively Pumping; Exclusively out of Desperation

I planned to breastfeed throughout my pregnancy. I got a pump through my insurance company but I planned to nurse my baby exclusively when I wasn’t working. I was looking forward to the bonding experience and selfishly, I was looking forward to being able to say, “Hey look! Not only did I birth that but I can feed him, too! How amazing am I?” 

Then he was born. He latched right away (or so I thought). But a few hours later he was screaming. Lactation consultants were there to help and assured me we would figure it out. “Just keep trying,” they said. I hooked up to a breast pump for the first time 15 hours after giving birth. “It will help your milk come in,” they said. 

I sat in that hospital bed and pumped for the first time watching my husband bond with and feed my child with (gasp!) formula. 15 hours and I had already failed.

My milk came in and things were looking up, but he still didn’t consistently latch. He cried. I cried. Day after day. After a couple weeks and little weight gain I packed us up and we went to see a lactation consultant at the hospital. Diagnosis: lip tie + tongue tie. We had the tongue tie snipped, but he and I just couldn’t figure out the whole breastfeeding thing. 

My baby was hungry and losing weight. I actually had an oversupply of milk so I made the only decision that made sense – become an EP. Exclusive Pumper. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. My postpartum mind made me resentful. I resented my baby for not being able to latch. What kind of mother resents their baby? So I resented myself for that. I made my husband do every bottle feed and I pumped for the duration of the feed. I told myself that it was to keep a regimented schedule and maintain supply but honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to hold a bottle for my baby. So I resented my husband while he fed and bonded with my baby. These were dark times. It was months before my postpartum mind cleared enough for me to be able to forgive myself and feed my own baby with a bottle.

I returned to work and fell into a 4-pumps-a-day routine: 5am, 10am, 3pm, 8pm. I followed this strict schedule every day for 18 months – weekends, holidays, and vacations included.

There were moments I was positive my machine was shouting expletives at me with its rhythmic pulsing. “Fuck you, too,” I’d whisper back.

Please be assured that I don’t hate myself or resent my baby anymore. if you’re feeling similarly to how I felt, please get help. 

EPing is hard but it’s doable under the right circumstances.

A few things in my favor:

  1. A devoted partner. He’s seriously the real MVP

  2. I responded well to a pump.

  3. A respectful, accommodating, & understanding workplace.

  4. An office with a door/pumping room

Places I’ve pumped:

  1. Home

  2. Others’ homes

  3. Work

  4. Parked cars

  5. Moving cars

  6. Bathrooms

  7. Parks 

  8. Retail center parking lots 


First of all, thank you Brittany for your honesty and willingness to share. There are more dedicated moms like Brittany out there, silently fighting the good fight with their pumps. Secondly, it is important to get help, as a new parent, when we feel like the postpartum blues continue—like maybe what we are experiencing is more than a fog. I’m glad Brittany mentioned this. Mood disorders are more common than we think. People just aren’t reporting them! Please, get help. It’s hard enough to juggle expectations with reality. You shouldn’t have to also battle yourself .

What I wish I had known About Breastfeeding

In a perfect world, I would make CERTAIN my mamas, who want to breastfeed, are equipped with the knowledge and tools to do so immediately after birth through to the end of their breastfeeding relationship/goal. Sadly, there are many hurdles that women face the moment they have their babies—the biggest one being lack of education prior to the start of nursing. Below I will impart the wisdom I have learned from experience and ongoing education.

The Importance of the Golden Hour

No matter how baby comes out (and emergency C-sections can but don’t always present a challenge during this time frame, depending on hospital policy), the first 60-90 minutes are the most important when establishing the first latch. Baby recognizes mom by left-behind amniotic smells and is most alert and ready to make his or her way towards the breast. Your hormones throughout pregnancy that made your areolas so dark? They coursed through your body to make your breasts easier for baby to find! They’re like targets! What I’m trying to say is babies are smarter and stronger than we give them credit for. If we allow them to have an hour after birth on mother’s chest, they will usually latch on their own with almost no help at all. You can watch videos of this on Youtube. It’s incredible.

Miss this window of time? It’s ok. Don’t fret. Baby becomes sleepy and may just need a little extra support to latch when he or she awakes. That’s what Lactation Consultants are for!

Hand Expression

It is empowering and extremely helpful to know how to hand express. You’ll never have to panic if you lose your pump or a part breaks or if baby goes on a nursing strike. Like any skill, practice makes perfect. It took me months to perfect this. Also another great job for a Lactation Consultant!

Feed often

You might have been told that milk comes in a supply and demand way. This is true. If baby isn’t eating, your breast doesn’t know to make milk. Feeding baby often helps the breasts empty and get the message to make more milk. Babies also nurse for many other reasons than hunger. They nurse for comfort, for sleep, belly aches, to bond and more. Breastfeeding is also helpful to mama.

Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin, which studies have shown help reduce mood disorders.

Warm compresses and dangle-feeding for clogs

Before I discovered that my body didn’t respond to electric pumps, I got golf ball sized clogs on the regular. I sought help desperately and often. The best piece of advice I got was—at first sign of clog, slap a warm compress on the breast, massage, then dangle feed. Read more at Kellymom, my fave resource.

TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT

There is no doubt about it—Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things to do and our culture makes it harder by silencing and shaming women. The more we talk about this, the less of a stigma it may become. Exposure is the first step to challenging this norm.

Please remember, mama, it aint easy. You’re doing great!

Have more questions on feeding your infant? Send Rae a message.

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Postpartum Doula or Night Nanny or Baby Nurse?

In the wee hours of Postpartum exhaustion, you might have Googled, “Help me at night with my newborn!!!!” to see results for Night Nannies and Baby Nurses and Doulas. So what are they and how exactly do they differ from Postpartum Doulas?

To put it simply, a Night Nanny can be anyone who is paid to come over at night to help with a newborn. This person may have many years of experience and be quite adept at offering tips and tricks. They might even know how to gasp sleep train! However, Night Nannies do not need to carry any certification, which means if there is an emergency situation, they might not be trained to help. Because of this, not every Night Nanny might be qualified to put a mind at ease.

A Baby Nurse is a bit more evasive. In big cities like Boston and LA, you can find someone to come into your home as a Newborn Care Specialist. Perhaps they worked as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at some point. With the title nurse, they should be medically able to monitor baby and mom, which can set many new families at ease. With that being said, not everyone titled “Baby Nurse” is an actual nurse! Some agencies call their contractors Baby Nurses when they are really just Night Nannies. If you see on an Agency website that a Baby Nurse can stay with a family for an extended period of time, night and day, they might actually be a nanny.

A Postpartum Doula is trained and certified to come into your home after the baby is born to help establish care routines like bath time, bedtime, and feeding. We can help mom and dads get sleep by watching the baby in the wee-hours of the night. We can identify feeding issues, mood disorders, and get parents to the right medically trained care professionals. A Postpartum Doula does not stay with families for an extended period of time like a nanny, though they do prefer to be booked in multi-hour increments. Postpartum doulas typically have a different focus than Nannies. We prefer to cultivate an environment where parents can bond with babies, as opposed to coming into the home and taking over the newborn care, which means we prioritize parents well being as much as baby's. It is these qualities that makes Postpartum doulas in high demand these days!

No matter who you are looking for to help, you want to ask your potential care professional the right questions. Below is a really good start!

What is their experience?

Are they doula certified through an agency that is reputable?

Are they CPR certified?

Do they ask questions to learn your expectations and needs?

Gut Check- Do you feel relieved and safe?

ProDoula has an excellent and more specific explanation of what Postpartum Doulas do on their blog. You can read it here!

We’re looking out for you, mamas and papas!