Meet Lindsey Ehlers
Meet Lindsey Ehlers. Lindsey is a postpartum doula and mother in Austin, Texas. Before becoming a doula, she wore many hats: from working in special education as a therapist to being a braille transcriptionist. In our Meet the Doulas series, Lindsey shares why she became a doula and the importance of a community during such a vulnerable period in a birthing person’s postpartum journey. She also offers helpful reminders that it's okay when postpartum does not look like a perfect Instagram post, and that it's okay to allow others to help relieve some of your burdens.
Can you tell us a little about your own experience as a parent?
Who I am as a parent varies from day to day. I try to be somewhere in the middle on the major things like discipline, structure, attachment, eating, and hygiene. I’ve learned to give myself grace in parenthood because it's a learning experience for me too.
Why did you become a doula?
I became a doula because what society implies is normal after birth (being able to carry on with minimal physical or emotional support), puts families in a very vulnerable and at-risk place. It can set them up to feel as if they have failed or aren’t cutting it. In reality sleep deprivation is hard and is recognized in any other context as a health hazard. As the world becomes more electronically connected vs physically connected, parents need access to more community based resources when their own families may not be as accessible. Doula work can give physical help and resources to a client. I see it as a way to bring the idea of care that exists in other cultures that have very low rates of postpartum depression and anxiety, into a culture that values self-sufficiency. Ultimately I want to see happy and joyous newborn parents instead of ones that are just surviving the newborn phase. I give clients the space to rest and recover so that the “doing” of postpartum becomes bonding with the baby instead of worrying about dishes and laundry.
What are some of your favorite self care rituals for postpartum?
Food all the way. People need to be fed and fed well postpartum. Physical wellness is how you do the physical challenges of postpartum. It’s the foundation for emotional wellness. It's much easier to feel love and warmth for your baby who keeps you up all night if you're eating something that nurtures your body. I am so excited that Ritual Meals exists and taps into other food cultures that take postpartum much more seriously. As a postpartum doula I recommend Ritual Meals to all my clients and I gift it to every birthing family that I know.
What stands out to you when working with first time vs. second time mothers, birthing people, and parents?
I think second-time parents know what they are getting into. That experience has given them strategies or knowledge to handle it or left them with a desire to get some help. Oftentimes I’m helping out second-time parents with more practical work like dishes or laundry while my first-time parents need more newborn care information like breastfeeding or swaddling.
What are your best tips for postpartum care?
My best tip for postpartum care is to plan ahead. To really look at yourself and at your day to day life to determine the things that are stressors for you. Finding time and energy to address your stressors like unwashed dishes will just be more difficult while taking care of your baby. Then look at who's in your life who would be willing to do those things for you with no spoken or unspoken strings attached. Then schedule those things before the baby gets here. Don’t be afraid to love yourself enough to fill in those gaps by hiring it out whether it's meal delivery, a postpartum doula, or a housekeeper. I would much rather help a client come up with a support plan before the baby arrives and not be needed as much post birth.
Do you have any advice for new mothers or birthing people experiencing postpartum anxiety or depression?
From personal experience, I can say that there is nothing that a parent could tell me that would be any scarier than what I have told myself. Those negative thoughts have tremendous power held inside. When they are relinquished out, they have tremendous power to heal. It’s OK if your postpartum journey isn’t a pretty Facebook or Instagram post. It’s highs and lows. Postpartum doula services can help keep those lows just lows instead of depression. If someone has a history of depression or anxiety I always recommend some kind of postpartum doula service, even if it's just a virtual zoom call. Should something become depression or anxiety, you are not alone. Postpartum depression and anxiety may not be “normal” but it is common. It can be recovered from. Your feelings don’t dictate your worth as a parent. Any of these sites below are great places to start to find resources and support:
What's the worst advice you've heard for postpartum & early motherhood or parenthood?
It's usually some form of “This won’t last forever” or “they are not babies forever”. For me it invokes the idea that you're supposed to pull yourself up by your bootstraps until it's over. It doesn’t help the quality of life of the person having a hard moment right now. I would much rather take some of that burden off their shoulders by doing a task for them so that they can be more present and connected in those special moments of babyhood.
What's the best advice you've heard for postpartum & early motherhood or parenthood?
That loving your baby or your family doesn’t mean that you have to love yourself less. It’s OK to not do the “best” thing (according to Facebook, Instagram, friends, your mother) if there is something else that is best for you, your sanity, or individuality. Minimize Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Dr. Google. None of those people have a medical degree or live your life.
Any closing advice for someone who's about to become a new mother or parent?
I often tell people to very loosely hold expectations or whatever they have pictured for life with a baby. Your baby is who your baby is. Your baby will do what your baby does and it likely won’t look like what other people’s babies do. You are who you are as a parent. You won’t know that until you live it and learn it. That doesn’t start until after the baby arrives. By holding expectations loosely you can trust yourself to see whatever your baby is doing and make the best decision without trying to live up to a standard.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out our other blog post, Meet the Doula: Allison Cline from Austin, Texas!
Lindsey Ehlers is a certified Postpartum Doula servicing the South Austin and Dripping Springs area.