Our mission at Colugo is to help parents to feel more confident taking on the adventure of parenthood. And, it’s never been just about the strollers. Through our podcast and blog, we’ve created a safe space for real conversations about parenthood and, more recently, the fourth trimester to help parents feel more connected and confident.

Now, we are so excited to partner with Figgi Family and their amazing team of Doulas to answer frequently asked questions from our communities about preparing for parenthood, the early days after the baby arrives, and beyond. 

Have a question for the Doulas at Figgi Family? Email our co-founder Christy at cpo@hicolugo.com and she’ll pass it along to the experts!

We’re starting with the basics with Figgi Family explaining the role of a doula, how to find a doula, and how to prepare for the 4th trimester. 

(1) What is a doula?

Doulas are trained professionals who support people going through a range of life experiences including death, transition, fertility, abortion, birth, and postpartum. All doulas advocate and support their clients by providing education and resources in situations where they may feel alone, ignored, or dismissed. The role of the doula is not to replace the medical provider, but to provide support where doctors, midwives, and nurses cannot.

Birth and postpartum doulas can address a range of topics, including postpartum healing, baby sleep, eating concerns, and much more. Research shows that when a doula is part of the journey, families have a healthier and more enjoyable experience. Doulas can provide support in person or virtually through text, phone, and video chats. It can make a difference having someone by your side providing non-judgmental support. Doulas always have your best interest at heart!

(2) What are some questions to ask to find the right doula?

Every doula will bring their own personality, flair, energy, and experience into the role. When it comes to choosing a doula there are many factors to consider but it comes down to finding someone who makes you feel safe and not judged. This person will be supporting you with a big life change and compatibility is very important.

It's good to share open dialogue and ensure that you feel heard and respected. They should be ready to support you no matter what you want to do during your life event. You will want to discuss where the doula trained and if they are certified. Certification is not a requirement in the field, however, it can bring more credibility to their role in supporting you. What it really comes down to is trusting your intuition. You will know the right doula for you!

Doulas fees will range in pricing based on location and experience level.

Think about why YOU are hiring a doula. Do you have any special needs that would require a doula with certain experience? Do you have a history of trauma? What kind of presence are you hoping for: a calming presence or someone who is more of a take-charge type of personality?

It is always a good idea to interview more than one doula. Ask around for recommendations or at the very least ask for reviews. Check out the doulas' websites and social media accounts to see if it fits in line with what type of support you are looking for.

Part of meeting new doulas is to see if there is a spark. It might feel like a blind date but the most important part is making sure there is chemistry between the two of you. It should feel natural and easy to connect with them.

Googling doulas in your area is often a good way to find a list of names. There are also virtual doulas so be sure to think about what type of service might be best for you. If you are looking for a birth or postpartum doula DoulaMatch.net is a great place to start.

(3) What is the fourth trimester and how can I prepare?

The fourth trimester is the 12-week period immediately following birth. The fourth trimester is not all about the baby. It is also very much about the birthing parent. This is a time to heal and your baby's time to adjust to being outside of the womb. The fourth trimester is just as important as the first three trimesters, however, this time is often when parents will have the least amount of interaction with their medical providers. For some people, this is when they will need the most support. 

Rest as much as possible! Your body has been working hard. It took nine months to grow your baby and whether you have a belly or vaginal birth, it's a lot of work.  

Not only is your body recovering physically but your emotions and hormones are recovering from the shifts that take place during this time. Up to 80% of new moms will experience baby blues. If sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and overwhelm go beyond 14 days following birth, it is important to reach out for help.

Tips to help you prepare for your baby's arrival:

It is important to nourish your body with whole foods (lots of fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein, and whole grains). Try to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Begin moving when your body feels ready. Gentle walking is a great way to ease your body into it. If you had a partially difficult birth, it is always a good idea to consult with your provider before beginning any strenuous movement.

 Stock up on items you will need for your physical recovery while still pregnant (sitz bath, heat pack, cold pack, stool softeners, witch hazel pads, etc).

If you plan to breastfeed/chest-feed, have a basket of supplies nearby for yourself including a water bottle, one-handed nutritive snacks, cellphone and charger, book, etc. You are going to be spending a good amount of time feeding your baby, so be as comfortable as possible.

Stock up on healthy foods in advance and try to eat all the colors of the rainbow for a varied diet. 

Prepare freezer meals in advance. Encourage family and friends to bring over meals or organize a meal train in advance.

While still pregnant create a list of community resources, that you may need once home with your baby. This can include lactation consultants, mental health professionals, etc. Also, locate virtual new parenting groups and breastfeeding groups. 

Sleep is always a big one and hard to come by in the first few months. To get enough sleep you must take your need for sleep seriously, which many parents fail to do. They wind up sleep deprived and after several days or a week, fall apart. Baby care and everyday tasks become much more difficult than they should be. The following approach will help you get as much (or almost as much) as you need (It does not work as well if you have other children unless you have help with them): 

  • Calculate how many hours of sleep you used to need regularly before pregnancy in order to function well. Six hours? Eight hours? That is the amount of sleep you now owe yourself every day.
  • Since you cannot get this amount of sleep in one stretch because of interruptions for feedings and baby care, you will require more hours in bed to get your allotted amount of sleep.
  • Plan to stay in bed or keep going back to bed until you have slept your allotted
  • number of hours. This means that with the exception of trips to the bathroom,
    you do not get up. You do not brush your teeth, shower or dress in the early
    morning. Make a mental note of approximately how many hours you have slept
    since you went to bed. You may have to stay in bed from 10 pm until noon the
    next day to get eight hours of sleep! If that’s what it takes, do it. Then brush your
    teeth, take a shower, dress and greet the day.
  • As your baby grows and begins to sleep for longer stretches, it will take you less time to get enough sleep. Take your need for sleep seriously in order to prevent sleep deprivation and have a strong recovery.
  • Tune in and trust your instincts. Listen to your body and don't be afraid to ask for help!