"So I just...pull some out of this tank and put them in with the turtles? How many?" I ask, holding the blue net just above the water.
"As many as you can catch. Just not all of them," my client says.
Hello, I'm a professional postpartum doula, and I feed guppies to turtles. It's not uncommon for clients to make a list of things for me to do while I'm in their home. Small jobs that tend to pile up that aren't easily done or remembered when one is cuddling a newborn all day (and night) long. Usually it's something benign, like catching up on laundry, feeding a hungry toddler (or mama!), and doing some light cleaning. That day, it was sacrificing a few dozen prolifically breeding guppies to some hungry turtles. Normally I'm a bit squeamish when it comes to anything fish-related, and I'm also a bit of an animal-lover, so this was an unorthodox request I might normally balk at. But it ended up not being too hard to honor it for my client, and kind of fun to show her toddler how the turtles snapped up the tiny darting fish. In the end, I chose to support my client by helping her get something off her long to-do list while she healed and bonded with her baby.
So, what else might* your postpartum doula do for you? Check out the list below:
Are you pregnant, and wondering what to do with your placenta when all is said and done? Maybe you have one tucked away in your freezer, newly discovered after a recent spring clean of the freezer-burned leftovers (not judging, I may have done this...). Either way, here you are, searching the internet for answers.
Placenta encapsulation, placenta smoothies, placenta tacos...the internet is rife with information on how to make your next postpartum meal gourmet - with your placenta.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all about using that incredible tree of life organ to relieve or prevent postpartum hemorrhage, postpartum depression, increase milk supply, and any number of the purported uses claimed by ingesting your placenta postpartum. Personally, I've used a tincture, I've eaten placenta "truffles" (because, chocolate, hello), taken placenta capsules, even blended it raw into a smoothie. But not everyone wants to eat something that just came out of their body.
So, here are five things you can do with that awesome organ, that aren't eating it.
1. Bury it in the yard - "Planting" your Placenta
Dig a hole and place your placenta inside. Easy as burying a body. Er...It's really more beautiful than it sounds. I've seen pictures of people making special ceremonies about it - read a poem, wrap the placenta in a (bio-degradable) package or basket, make it part of your postpartum recovery. Bonus points if you ask your mother-in-law to do it (just kidding) or your postpartum doula (not kidding - they probably would!).
You could include some flower bulbs or plant a tree that will bloom over the top of it and grow with your baby!
There are actually a lot of cultures that do this, believing the placenta is the "twin" of their baby, deserving of a proper and respectful burial.
2. Make a placenta print
Not sure where you would hang this one, but it's a great conversation starter, at least.
Quips aside, I think these really are a beautiful way to preserve your placenta. Different kinds of paint/food color can be used so you can still ingest it (if you want). I love how easy it is to see the "tree of life" the placenta represents for your baby when it's printed like this.
One thing to be wary of: the print needs to be done when the placenta is still relatively fresh, so it's not possible after freezing or after lotus birth (see below).
Every woman deserves a #positivepostpartum. That's right, including YOU! I'm giving the gift of a #positivepostpartum with THREE incredible postpartum prizes!
There's a huge rush in our culture to get our "pre-baby body" back. On one local support group facebook page I often see the question, "I'm 3 (or 4, or 5) weeks postpartum and feel great and have stopped bleeding. Can I start working out?" And as soon as we hit that 6 week mark and get "approved" for exercising, many of us are off through the gate.
I'll start by saying this: slow down, mamas! Regular exercise is not appropriate before that 6 week mark - it could set back your healing and cause further issues (like worsening diastasis recit, an abdominal separation, or causing pelvic organ prolapse). So many postpartum cultures recommend staying indoors and relatively inactive for the first 40 days. Take this time to rest and bond with your baby. And if you're feeling REALLY restless, try these six postpartum-approved movements.
Confinement. Xuo Yue Zi. The first Forty Days. Ansei. Sitting Month. Baby Moon.
Whatever you call it, the first six weeks or so after a woman has a baby are a universally acknowledged time of much-needed recovery.
In several Eastern countries like Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, and Japan, daily abdominal massage and various forms of wrapping the abdomen (in Malaysia called Bengkung Belly Binding) is practiced, bringing warmth and support to a recovering mother.
In Russia women are given an herbal steam bath in specially built saunas.
In China, women are served dishes of pig's feet, sweet rice congee, red date and ginger tea, among others, specifically made to warm her body, keep blood flowing, and help her breast milk com in quickly, easily, and in abundance.
In Korea and India, similar principles apply: women eat and drink only hot or room temperature items, like Seaweed Soup and special curries, to avoid creating "wind" in her body that might prevent healing.