LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Doulas have been helping couples give birth for generations, the term doula first coming into vogue in the early 70s.
But these days, more and more parents are turning to doulas to help out postpartum.
CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Jeff Nguyen introduces us to one doula who is helping new parents find much-needed peace.
John and Jenny Wilson are balancing care for two young boys. Noah is 2 years old and Justin was born in September.
Says John, “Most of the time he’s just fussy like this.”
Justin cries on cue and so then does his older brother.
Justin has been having sleeping problems after coming home from the hospital.
So the Wilsons brought in Talitha Phillips, who’s a postpartum doula. She is here to regulate their newborn’s sleep habit.
After her first delivery — Jenny battled with postpartum depression which led to sleep deprivation.
Recalls Jenny, “By the time we got home from the hospital, I was up for about 90 hours. And I was going crazy.”
Talitha Phillips is more than just a helping hand. “Most babies I work with don’t know I exist because I come to work in the dark hours.”
Put simply — Phillips comes into a family’s home and monitors a newborn’s behavior.
And she does so by allowing the parent to get some sleep. Mom and dad can get a much-needed break.
After a few visits over several weeks she’ll make suggestions on what to work on.
She’s worked with a number of celebrity clients, most recently actress and reality TV star Tia Mowry-Hardrict after she had her son, Cree.
“I had to go right back to work two weeks after giving birth,” she laughs, “I know, that’s kind of insane. So I mean it was hard.”
Even harder, this followed her giving birth by caesarean. Mowry-Hardrict had to travel between LA and the east coast for shoots.
“When I saw I was working up to 12-14 hours a day, I was like ‘I want to be super woman. I want to go ahead and do this on my own,’” she said.
Mowry-Hardrict quickly realized she needed help.
One of the first things Phillips taught her — there’s no such thing as a perfect baby and a fussy newborn doesn’t make you a failure as a parent.
Explains Talitha, “I think today’s parents have read so many books. Most people are having children later in life and they’re very intellectual parents. But you can’t parent from your head.”
One of her signature tips is to get a baby to sleep on a piece of silk. Says Mowry-Hardrict, “I had never known that. And he would always sleep so beautifully when we would do that. We started doing that. I still do that which is great.”
For the Wilsons — they found success the first night Phillips worked with Noah 2 years ago.
Said John Wilson, “She’s actually the one that suggested to us that he had acid reflux. And it turned out that he did.”
Jenny recalls, “We were able to get him some medication and we noticed a world of difference.”
They’re hoping she can work her brand of magic on the newborn.
The Wilsons have learned there is no such thing as the perfect baby, or the perfect parent. Jenny says, “This experience has changed my mind. Women need help. Families need help. husbands, wives. everybody, they need help as a family to be able to be healthy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Phillips also offer these tips.
To teach a baby to soothe themselves to sleep — first, put them down calm but awake.
Then, look for early “tired signs” like yawns or heavy eyes.
That’s when you want to put your baby to bed.
And, if your baby starts crying, pick your child up, calm him or her down and, then, put that baby back down.
Repeat until your baby goes to sleep on his or her own.