Yes! Yes! Yes!
We say birth and postpartum doulas are the front line defenders of breastfeeding along with nurses and midwives!
I believe that the explosion of doulas in Detroit, MI is one of main reasons for this incredibly, too long time in coming change: “According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data, Detroit’s infant mortality rate plunged from 16.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 to 11 per 1,000 live births in 2019, representing a one-third rate reduction.” How amazing!
We know that breastfeeding is important for helping save babies lives. Doulas are usually with families for longer periods of time so they can help with multiple feeds. Sure, just like there are breastfeeding issues that are out of an IBCLCs scope, any infection, mental health concerns, physical issues with the baby, and then the IBCLC refers to the proper health care provider. For doulas there are also breastfeeding issues that would need immediate referrals such as pain that is not quickly resolved (I mean like in 24 hours!), low milk supply, and a baby who is not latching.
However, there are so many breastfeeding issues a doula CAN help with. And having more training in the field of lactation can help everyone. Here is just a partial list:
- Explaining how breastfeeding works- basic anatomy and physiology
- The benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk
- Latching and positioning
- Hand expression
- Basic engorgement
- Making sure the baby is eating at least 8 times per 24 hours
- The signs of a well fed baby
- How much babies need to eat
- Paced bottle feeding
- Skin to skin
- Getting ready to return to work
- SO IMPORTANT- able to refer to a great IBCLC if help is needed!
In the field of lactation we have the rules of lactation:
- Feed the baby
- Protect the milk supply
- Solve the problem
Knowledge is power and the more folks who work with new families have the knowledge and power of helping with breastfeeding, in my mind, the better. Doulas can absolutely help with steps 1 and 2! It does take a village.
To this end we have now created The Breastfeeding Doula Course. Join us this spring! We have been teaching birth and postpartum doulas for almost 20 years. We know what doulas need to help their clients meet their infant feeding goals. Let us help you!
This course uses a hybrid-learning model: 20 hours of independent pre-work (reading, videos, podcasts, and assignments) done at your own pace, and then two live Zoom days of discussion, working with families, and practicing skills.
- The pre-work will open March 1, 2022
- Live Zoom days: Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, 2022 from 8:00 AM EDT to 5:30 PM EDT
If you are interested in becoming a doula, check out Lifespan Doulas. Patty Brennan has been training doulas forever with DONA and now has created her own streamlined programs and certification.