Supporting a family in the days and weeks after a baby is born is a precious gift indeed - as the mother recovers her strength and responds to her baby's needs, the care of a postnatal doula, friend or family member can be invaluable. In this guide to warm, mother- and- baby-centred postnatal care, Naomi Kemeny draws on her wealth of experience as a midwife, children's nurse and postnatal doula to explain in detail how to 'mother the mother' - by listening to what she needs and supporting her as she adapts to her new role. This insightful book is both a useful guide to the work of a postnatal doula, and a must-read for anyone wanting to help a new family cope with those intense yet magical early days with a newborn.
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A guide to supporting parents and their newborn babies
Aimed at promoting the benefits of using a postnatal doula, this book is also a great handbook for parents and anyone who is supporting a new mother. It highlights the importance of support and care and looking after yourself when you have had a baby rather than having to get stuff done and continuing as normal, which can be a pressure in our society.<br /> <br />ÒEvery bit of help you receive adds to your reserves. planning ahead ensures that you will have the help and support necessary to keep your well fullÓ (Romm, 2002)<br /> <br />Nurturing New Families looks at:<br /> <br />babies Ð what you need to know Ð normal behaviour and characteristics as well as soothing crying and unsettled babies<br /> <br />mothers Ð what you need to know Ð what to expect physically and emotionally after pregnancy and birth along with practical tips for resting and support<br /> <br />partners Ð tips for supporting your partner and looking after yourself<br /> <br />feeding Ð breast, bottle and formula<br /> <br />postnatal depression Ð concerns and support<br /> <br />This is a great book to help parents prepare better for what may lie ahead in those early days and weeks with their new baby Ð what support is going to be useful and how to conserve energy and practical tips to feel more rested and able. It can often to be taken for granted how much support new parents may need and this book addresses this brilliantly.
Insight into doula role
This was an interesting insight into what a postnatal doula actually does, but it is not a handbook to becoming a doula yourself. My previous knowledge of doulas was limited to seeing them featuring heavily on homebirth tv programmes but this is about postnatal care and support rather than for labour. If you are thinking about support options for after the birth of a baby (or babies, since mothers of multiples are more likely than most to need an extra pair of hands!), this will give you the information you need to help decide if a doula is for you, and it also contains some useful baby care tips.<br /><br />Briefly, it's a guide to the support doulas can offer and what kind of aspects of baby care/general support in the postnatal period they might help with - but above all it emphasises the importance of 'mothering the mother'. Offering a listening ear and helping the mother adjust to her new role. It contains some handy babycare tips too.
I enjoyed reading this, and it covered a lot of ground in quite a slim volume. <br />Realistically I think anyone setting out as a post-natal doula would want to have this on their bookshelf along with other more detailed books on areas such as breastfeeding, newborn behaviour, post-natal depression, etc - it doesn't cover anything in very much depth.<br />But a warm, reassuring, inviting read for those considering working as a post-natal doula, or hiring one, and probably a pretty good revision of the basics for a grandparent-to-be who wants to be prepared to support their own children as they start a family by making sure they are up to date on current guidance etc.
Great read if you want to know more about the role of a post-natal doula
I have just finished reading this great little book. It is full of great advice for all people supporting new families but in particular post-natal doula's. Following having my daughter recently I have become increasingly more interested in the role of a post-natal doula as a potential career change and this book has given me a wealth of insight. All new families should have a post-natal doula, in my opinion, as part of the National Health Service. Being new parents is such a life changing experience and having someone there who is understanding, empathic and helpful is so important when transitioning into our new roles. I also love the yummy and nutritious recipes at the back of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about the role of the post-natal doula and anyone else who would like to pick up some helpful tips on supporting new families.
Quick, easy and interesting
I found Nurturing New Families extremely easy to read, in fact it took me only about four hours to read from cover to cover. For some reason I thought it would be broken down into sections based on who the reader is (Doula, grandparent, sister, friend, partner) rather than the needs of the family being supported. Obviously (and thankfully; because that would have been a terrible and unhelpful format!) I was wrong. <br /><br /> Aside from Chapter 4 (Partners, Grandparents, Friends and Family), which contains specific things to think about for those particular people who will be supporting a new family, the chapters are arranged based on the situation of the new family themselves. Everything from supporting a mother who has had a caesarean section to a visually impaired mother; a family with older children to a family with a dog, is covered here. There are some circumstances covered which require special considerations that I would never even have thought of before, but they are dealt with succinctly alongside all of the things you would expect to find. <br /><br /> And succinct is a good word for this book. Up to and including the references at the very end it is only 187 pages long. For a book setting out all of the many and varied ways in which a new family will need help in the early days and weeks, that is pretty short! <br /><br /> Despite this there are only a few places, for me, that I actually feel the length impacts on the ability of the author to deal with what I see as some important issues. For instance, after Chapter 4 (mentioned above) it almost seemed as if partners disappeared from the scene altogether. This may be entirely because, since the partner will likely be going back to work shortly after the baby has been born, the person supporting the family will be mainly working with the mother and so she is necessarily the focus. Alternatively, the phrase used a couple of times to describe the role of a Doula is "mothering the mother", I love this phrase, and no doubt at all that caring for a new mother is extremely valuable and something which has been sadly neglected in recent decades. On the other hand, the title of this book is 'Nurturing New Families" and not 'Nurturing New Mothers', and this did lead me to believe that there would be slightly more information available on how to help partners and grandparents adjust to their new roles than there actually was. I finished reading the book with the vague apprehension that, if the partner was at home, I wouldn't actually find much in this book to refer to in relation to helping him/her. <br /><br /> However, were I ever to finally take the leap into Doula-hood I can certainly imagine this taking a very prominent place on my book shelf. It's like a very in depth crib-sheet. I'm certain it will compliment Doula training very well. I can imagine speaking to a new client and immediately thinking "right, so they have a toddler, a history of postnatal depression and a cat" and knowing exactly which page to turn to for a reminder of what I will need to take special care and attention over and where to look for more information. <br /><br /> That is, of course, if I ever do become a Postnatal Doula. Because Kemeny is very realistic about what this will entail and what qualities you should have as a person for this to be the right path for you. Chapter 9 is dedicated to those reading the book who are considering doing this as a job. It certainly did give me an awful lot to think about before I consider taking the next steps and I'm very grateful to have read it before committing myself to a training course. I'm sure that chapter in particular will be very well thumbed over the next few weeks.
A useful handbook, full of tips
Naomi Kemeny is an experienced postnatal doula and has written Nurturing New Families for anyone supporting parents of newborn babies. It has useful chapters for grandparents and friends as well as for postnatal doulas, particularly those starting out. It gives a good background on why postnatal support is so important in 21st Century Britain, and a useful overview of the needs of mothers and babies in those challenging early weeks. There are also sections for special situations such as single mothers, twins and multiples, postnatal depression, families with pets, and other circumstances. <br /><br />I was quite surprised that Murkoff et al's What To Expect The First Year (described by Naomi Wolf with scathing accuracy as Òthe intellectual equivalent of an epiduralÓ in her book Misconceptions) is Kemeny's idea of Òan excellent reference manual.Ó (p.33). I can think of about twenty books I would rather have to hand, and actually Nurturing New Families could be one of them.<br /><br />There are some excellent guidelines on empathic listening, which is hard to do when you're close to the person you're supporting, so this of course is useful for grandmothers and friends, but essential for doulas. I strongly agree with Kemeny's advice to take the opportunity to debrief one's own breastfeeding experience before trying to support someone else with its particular challenges.<br /><br />Some of the book is a little repetitive, for example the advice on page 68 for grandparents is repeated on page 136 for parents, and some of the quotations are pulled from the stories at the back. The book is so full of useful stuff that it does not need this kind of padding, but I feel I am being picky. It's a useful book, and I would have found it really handy in my early work as a postnatal doula. I would recommend it to someone at the beginning of their doula career, as it covers a good range of different situations and is full of sensible advice.