by Lauren Truman Murphy, CPD(BWI)
Do you have a passion to help others? How can you use your knowledge and skills in the best possible way? Are you wanting a fulfilling career assisting families?
I have been a pediatric nurse for over thirteen years and have always wanted to do more to help families outside of the hospital setting. While also being a nurse, I am a mother of two and have seen the beautiful, but challenging time that bringing home a new baby can be. I wondered how I can use my knowledge and compassion for good use?
This is when I then discovered BirthWorks International! When preparing for my final client in the training process, I was able to feel more confident in my role as a postpartum doula after completing the coursework and workshop.
Below is a story I wanted to share during my certification process when I helped a family on two separate occasions:
I had little information about the family that I was going to be seeing, but I knew that she was having breastfeeding struggles along with a traumatic birth. By using the BirthWorks Approach, I knew to approach her with a calming professional presence, a listening ear, lactation support (not only on technique but praise for her efforts), and being her ally in every aspect of this postpartum journey that she needed. I met with this family on two separate occasions (4 hours each).
Day One: Listening to and Holding Space for Mom
On the first day, the mother wanted to express her birth story and what she referred to as “mother guilt” almost the entire session. She had a healthy uneventful pregnancy and her water broke naturally at 41 weeks gestation. She went into the hospital to deliver with little to no concern, but when her baby was born, she had a stroke. After this stroke, her baby had to go to the neonatal intensive care unit for uncontrollable seizures. Now, being at home and under the care of a neurologist, she takes an anti-seizure medication (Keppra) twice daily. The mother wanted to tell this story multiple times and ask questions: “what if I had done something different?” and “could this have been prevented?” So, on the first day, I listened and praised. She did not want any help with light chores, or help with newborn duties, but just needed someone to listen/vent/repeat struggles with, other than her husband.
Day Two: Shift of Focus to Baby Care and Breastfeeding Success
On the second day, she did not want to talk about the birth story, but rather have help with the baby! She wanted to review her breastfeeding plan. At this time, her baby was able to nurse very well and take Keppra from a bottle at 0900 and 2100 each day. So, I listened to her plan and observed a nursing session. We reviewed her growth chart and the baby was thriving. She was needing reassurance. After this, she had time for self-care by taking a shower, running on her treadmill, and taking a minute to breathe.
What helped me most during this time was explaining to the mother about the 3Hs - which I learned through BirthWorks. I explained that we first think with our head - a thought comes to our mind (Am I doing this wrong? Did I cause this? Am I a good mom?), then move focus to your heart and intention (I love this baby. I am doing everything possible to give her the best nutrition and provide her with excellent follow up.), and now bring this (I am trusting my motherly instincts and doing a great job) to your hands and act from there. I also used the acronym WATCH during my experience. I needed to take a step back and “watch my words” to not say anything that would interrupt this mom or make her feel unsure of herself; provide the right “actions” by giving a hug if needed or just sit and listen; not bring in my own personal experiences or “thoughts”; show good “character” by supporting mother; and be there for her with a kind, nonjudgmental “heart”.
How was the support I provided?
After my time with this family, I honestly wasn’t sure if I had provided enough support or help.
That is until she personally texted me and said the kindest words I could have expected. She thanked me for everything that I had done for her (giving her time to talk without interruption or judgment, reassuring her about the baby’s growth and development, etc). She said that she had since felt a lot of relief after our time together - which removed all of my doubts!
I was there to help her and in turn, she helped me to gain my confidence as well! Now, as a postpartum doula, BirthWorks International helped me prepare with success for my next career journey!