Spoiler Alert! Season 5 of Fuller House was released by Netflix this morning. Episode 1 begins when Stephanie and family return home from the hospital with their new baby girl and it is revealed that she has hired a postpartum doula. When I saw that professional postpartum support and care would be featured in a comical, cheesy show that I have always loved, I was thrilled! That was until I saw the way in which this doula was represented. It was completely disheartening for me to watch such an absolutely appalling representation and portrayal of postpartum care and support.
The “doula” portrayed in this episode repeatedly told Stephanie she was doing everything “wrong”, shushed Stephanie and other family members, and essentially separated the baby from her parents while she cared for the baby “correctly”. I have no doubt Netflix was trying to portray an over exaggerated “bad nanny” type of character, but they seem to be oblivious of the harm they can inflict with this message.
Postpartum support (through Newborn Care Specialists, Postpartum Doulas, Lactation Support, and more) is a rapidly growing industry and professional support is a much more commonplace and encouraged practice after having a baby, however there are still many misconceptions out there amongst the mainstream public. So let me take this opportunity to educate a bit and explain the many ways in which a postpartum professional can support your family!!
Whether hiring an NCS, Doula, or other caregiver/support after a baby is born, our main goal is support, educate, and empower you as a new parent! Parenting is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone! In today’s modern society, most families do not look like the Tanners. Families may be separated by thousands of miles and many new parents start their parenting journey with just their new, small nuclear family (by both choice and circumstance). Professional support gives many new parents the confidence and tools to help them through the first months with their baby.
There are many postpartum support providers, a Newborn Care Specialist (like myself) or a Postpartum Doula are just 2 of those options.
A Newborn Care Specialist (NCS) is a care professional with a unique combination of specialized skills and advanced education to provide expert care for infants as well as education and support for their parents. Typically, an NCS will work with a family for the first 12 weeks of a child’s life, but many are open to continuing care for extended periods beyond the three-month mark. An NCS may offer consultations, overnight sleep conditioning support, daytime newborn care, or 24/7 support. An NCS often works with new parents to help establish a routine that works for your baby and your family. A Newborn Care Specialist provides you with information on the most effective techniques to care for your baby that follow the latest recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and many other professional health organizations.
An NCS may also assist in ordering baby gear, setting up your nursery, baby related household tasks (like the endless amounts of baby laundry, sterilizing pump parts and bottles, and restocking the changing stations), and establish a feeding and sleep schedule. An NCS takes pride in providing you the peace of mind you need to get a great night’s sleep and answers to all of your questions, supporting you through the beginning days of parenthood in the way that YOU are most comfortable with.
A Postpartum Doula is another options for support. While postpartum doulas do often care for newborns, their main goal tends to be nurturing the mother and providing services that pertain to the healing of the mother and care for the family as a whole. A doula works hard to assist mothers in particular with all aspects of labor, delivery, postpartum recovery, and adjusting to caring for her little one. While a doula does provide newborn care while a parent rests, their focus is generally on the family as a whole and following the parents’ lead. While an NCS also supports parents through postpartum recovery, the NCS is generally focused on newborn care, parental education, and establishing baby’s feeding and routine.
ANY postpartum caregiver should be providing a sense of comfort for new parents, NEVER making a new parent feel inadequate or interrupting the bonding between parent and their newborn.
You really missed the mark, Netflix. The “doula” represented in this episode will only deter an entire generation of young parents-to-be from reaching out for professional support when they need it!
If you have any further questions about postpartum support, please feel free to reach out!