Childbirth Expert & Doula Reveals “Top Secret” - 5 Sure Ways to Set Yourself up for Postpartum Success
We are thrilled to have lactation expert and postpartum doula, Anjelica Malone share golden nuggets of wisdom with our #MiteraMamas on the blog today. Anjelica tells us how vital the role of mothering the mother is and that postpartum care actually begins with prenatal planning.
1. What inspired you to go into birth work and become a lactation professional?
So it’s kind of been this gradual process for me. Rooted in my experiences of traveling and living in different cities and countries every 2-3 years, I realized that in many places, though women are having babies, the comprehensive support just isn’t there. There are also very limited options as far as location for classes, style of teaching, and diversity of professionals. All of which create barriers for women when trying to choose the birth and postpartum experience that meets their needs and lifestyle. I realized that as a nomad I had the unique ability to gain knowledge that could then be taken with me wherever I go to provide women with support that is more personal and culturally-sensitive.
While living in Buffalo, NY (before I had any children of my own) I decided to begin volunteering with an organization that partnered local women with refugee and lower-income women who were having either their first birth here in the U.S. or a high risk pregnancy. During that time of navigating pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum season with my mentees, they showed me how vital the role of mothering the mother is.
Specifically, my friend (formerly my mentee) from Somalia, showed me that even beyond language and culture, there is this deep connection that women have with one another that makes them integrally connected and suited to serving one another during the transition into motherhood, whether it be for the first time or a subsequent time.
A few years later while I was living in a small beach town in Puerto Rico, I’d given birth to my first daughter and began to have some trouble with breastfeeding. It was extremely hard for me to get the care that I needed. Though we had an amazing doula who worked her magic, I realized that there was an extreme lack of perinatal professionals able to support women, especially in the U.S. territories.
That experience motivated me to find a way to gain the knowledge and certification I needed to begin offering lactation education and support to women wherever I moved.
2. Postpartum care is so critical for a mom's mental, emotional and physical well-being. What are top 5 things that you think a new mom should do to take care of herself once she is home from the hospital?
You’re so right! It’s also important to note that postpartum care actually begins with prenatal planning. This is an idea that I share about in my book Milk Boss 101: The Modern Breastfeeding Journal & Guide. Creating a plan (even if just a loose one) and setting things in place before the day of birth, is vital to experiencing an amazing postpartum season.
Here are my top 5 tips for new moms to set themselves up for postpartum success:
- Look into Setting Up a Meal Train:
- Request a meal train at your baby shower. Check out Mealtrain.com, a crowdsourcing platform that helps organize home-made meal giving for a friend around a birth
- Secure Postpartum Help:
- Hire a postpartum doula or ask a dedicated person to assist you with breastfeeding, cleaning, and self-care during the first weeks home.
- Dedicate Time to "Lying -in":
- Rest and give yourself a dedicated period of time for lying-in, a lovely practice that is really missing from many Western women’s postpartum experience. Lying-in is an ancient postpartum practice that can be found in many variations across cultures. It is a predetermined period of time where a woman is cared for and tended to as she heals after birth and bonds with her new baby. Typically there is a person (mother, auntie, or postpartum doula) who is committed to providing the mother with nourishing and warming foods, support with house work, information on physical healing, and wise words of comfort along with a listening ear. During this time the mother’s only job is to rest and learn to care for her new babe.
- Consult a Lactation Consultant (if you plan to breastfeed):
- Plan a one-on-one meeting with a lactation professional prenatally and exchange information so that you can talk with them regularly after birth.
- Trust Yourself:
- Give yourself loads of grace to make the decisions that are best for you and your family alone.
3. You have a business and you are a wife, and a mom to '2 Little women', what is your self-care routine? How do you stay connected with yourself and your passions?
Oh, this is such a great question!
So my number one rule with self-care is to make it a part of my everyday life. I incorporate tiny details into my day that help me to feel aligned and at peace even when doing mundane things. For example, when I get showered and dressed, I turn on relaxing music (think spa vibes) and close the door. My girls know that they must knock before coming in during this time and only if they really need me.
I’m also intentional about brewing myself a cup of herbal tea each night once the girls are in bed. It’s kind of become this ritual. Once the kitchen is clean, the doors are locked, and the lights go down, it’s my time to hydrate and relax. My favorite blend at the moment is one I created made with Nettle, Chamomile, Oatstraw, & Lady’s Mantle.
As far as staying connected to my passions, each afternoon and evening during the week is used solely for me to work on my goals and the business. This often looks like answering emails, doing a client visit, followed by a Barre 3 class.
4. Your family moved from Guam to Seattle, how did your family adjust to the move? What are some values you want to instill in your daughters from an early age?
Yes, we did! The move has been quite monumental actually. We spent the last six years on island time with a very laid back style of living. Since moving back to the U.S. we’ve had to be more intentional about setting boundaries and staying true to our values, because we’ve noticed that you can easily find your time and energy being usurped by others if you aren’t watchful.
We have a small group of friends that we commit to spending time with weekly but also keep our commitments low. Our greatest priority is to spend time strengthening our family unit and using our gifts to serve others. This is something we hope to instill in our girls that they’ll carry with them into adulthood.
5. You joined the US Coast Guard at young age and now you're married to a military service member, how does that impact your family? Do you feel like your approach to motherhood is different because of your unique background?
Absolutely, my upbringing as a third culture kid and military child, time as a service member, and now life as a military spouse has deeply impacted me and my mothering style.
I think the greatest thing has been my ability to look beyond my community and culture for solutions to problems and having hope when things seem tough. I’m often reminded of people I’ve met or knew from other locations and how they approached issues, and the realization of how blessed I am to have the opportunities I have.
6. What are some factors a mom should take into consideration when she's looking to hire a doula to make sure it's the right fit?
The primary thing a mom should consider is how that person resonates with her on a personal level. You also want to choose someone who is kind, intelligent, and melds well within you and your partner’s dynamic. The doula should feel like a sister or mother who happens to have a ton of birth knowledge; not a birth professional who you’ve hired to rub your back. Does that make sense? It’s a very intimate relationship that goes beyond the physical skills a doula brings to the table.