Friday, September 28, 2018

Saying Goodbye to Newborns...

After several years of doing overnight doula services, I'm sad to say goodbye and goodnight.
I worked with a family recently, doing overnights for their second child. As baby stretched into long hours of sleep, I was no longer needed (which is good thing!).

While the family started their search for a nanny, a position they offered to me, I took on the duties temporarily.

After a few months, the family once again offered me the position, and I accepted.

It's a lovely fit for us all!

Fortunately, my daughter had her first baby this month, and I'm doing overnights with her. What a great feeling to have a newborn again!

Thanks to all the families I worked with, it was a true delight.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Newborn Nights

What's my overnight doula shift look like?

Dinner with husband, one episode of a TV show on DVR, and I'm out the door.
I arrive at my clients house, mom, dad (or both) welcome me with a smile, usually saying something like "I'm glad you're here!"  THAT is music to my ears.

We have a brief chat; talking about the days events (feeding/pooping/sleeping), how everyone is feeling and our collective plan for the evening (estimated feeding times, feeding method, whether there's laundry to fold, a kitchen to tidy up...)

Mom goes off to feed baby while I get the room ready:
Diaper/wipe supply? Check.
Vaporizer filled? Check
Clean clothes and burp cloth supply? Check
Swaddle unfolded and ready? Check
Nursery cool, dark and comfortable? Check
Floor clear so I don't trip over anything? Check

One last visit with mom to see if she needs anything; she smiles, hands me a full and content baby (most times) and settles in for a restful sleep.

Baby and I get ready for our night together - a comfortable swaddle for baby and a warm baby for me to snuggle. The darkness takes over while we breathe together and become one.
When hunger cues are visible, baby either goes to mom for nursing or I lovingly bottlefeed.
The night stretches on, the family sleeps while I keep constant watch of their precious new family member.
Daylight approaches as the world and the house yawn awake.
Mom comes in the nursery, rested and happy.
I smile, hand over a contented baby and go home for my own restful sleep, usually dreaming of babies.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Five S's of Soothing a Crying Baby

These great tips simulate life in the womb. Use as many as you can, all at once if needed, to soothe a crying baby.
Swing.  Either in your arms or the mechanical version.
Suck. A finger, knuckle or pacifier will do. Of course, your baby has been fed already.
Shushing. Long stretches of the shushing sound simulate the flow of blood your baby heard in the womb. It works wonders for both baby and caregiver.
Side. Holding baby on their side is comforting to them. The left side is best for digestion, so start with that.
Swaddle. Babies like to feel contained and safe.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What's a doula?

The word "doula" comes from the Greek word for the most important female servant.  In an ancient Greek household, this woman probably helped the lady of the house through her childbearing. The word has come to refer to "a woman experienced in childbirth providing continuous physical, emotional & informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth." 

Benefits of a Postpartum Doula

  • Faster birth recovery.
  • More likely to eat healthier & sleep more.
  • Less stress & anxiety.
  • Less incidence of postpartum mood disorders.
  • Higher breastfeeding success rate.
  • More confidence in parenting & childcare.

Benefits of an Overnight Postpartum Doula

  • You'll get several hours of extra sleep.
  • Rejuvenated sleep results in the benefits, above.
  • I bring a relaxed atmosphere for a restful night.
  • Worries and fears loom larger at night, it's nice to ask at 4 am "Is this normal?"
  • Nothing is new to a postpartum doula, it's hard to rattle or alarm us. I'm there for you.

To read more about doulas, click on the image, below. 

 Doulas of Rhode Island

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Postpartum Doulas: We wear a lot of hats!

postpartum doula rhode islandWhen you hire a postpartum doula, you are hiring a multitasking, mind-reading, troubleshooting Super Hero. Guess what? All these attributes are needed when you’re learning how to care for a new human being. Postpartum Doula is definitely more than a babysitter or the person who cleans your countertops.

10. Bouncer: We can gently inform excited family members to back off your baby and that you're resting and not taking visitors.
9. Home Administrator: Laundry is not your priority, but very important after your precious baby soils your comfy leggings. If you feel like Old Mother Hubbard and the cupboards are bare, it’s time for the home admin. to go grocery shopping. 8. Partner Mediator: In case you need help suggesting your loving partner to take a nap - go out for a beer - give you space - get your mother-in-law off your back. 7. Nonjudgmental Analyst: You'll want to discuss every detail about your birth, but your partner is so done. I can really listen for hours. 6. Your Parent: You'll probably need someone to gently remind you to take a shower. But not someone to tell you how much easier breastfeeding was years ago. 5. Your Backup Brain: Sleep loss can sometimes lead to you doubting your own gut instinct. It helps to have someone to reassure you that you're dressing the baby correctly and that it’s ok to set your newborn down for a moment so you can hit the bathroom. 4. Confidential Informant: Most 2 month olds do not sleep through the night, and many 12 month olds don’t either. Don’t fall for all those perfect stories that your relatives share. 3. Nursing Technician: Feeding positions? Breastmilk storage? Clogged milk ducts?  I can help. 2. Personal Assistant: You deserve to be taken care of as you learn to take care of your newborn. I'll take overwhelming tasks and break them down for you. 1. Baby Virtuoso: As postpartum doulas, we've seen it all. We don't get rattled or nervous.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Motherhood: What happens to a woman's brain?

postpartum doula

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” -Rajneesh

The artist Sarah Walker once told me that becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live. I always liked Walker's description because it's more precise than the shorthand most people use for life with a newborn: Everything changes.  Read more....

As a overnight postpartum doula, I love seeing the mother/child relationship build day by day...

Monday, April 4, 2016

NightLight Doula’s 1st Birthday

I’m extremely grateful to my clients for making this past year possible. Being welcomed in your homes and trusting me to care for your babies all night long has been so fulfilling.
Also,the support of my family and friends, helping make my dream come true, has been amazing and humbling. I feel like I’m able to have my cake and eat it too!

I started NightLight Doula a year ago because I was confident in helping new mothers transition, with their family, into a comfortable routine with their newborns. The journey from becoming acquainted with Doulas of Rhode Island to postpartum training with Doulas of North America has turned my passion for parenting and childrearing into a rewarding career. Helping and watching families evolve has been one of the most wonderful experiences of my life—besides giving birth to and raising my own children, of course!

From the bottom of my heart I mean it when I say that you’ve all given me such a gift. I love what I do and I love all of you.

I look forward NightLight Doula’s Terrific (not terrible!) Two’s.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Excellent Postpartum Advice

In preparation for your new arrival it is likely you will take classes, read books and get advice from friends and family on how to take care of your new baby.
What you can easily forget in all the excitement is that you take care of yourself too!
To help you focus on YOU, we recently asked our nurses and midwives what postpartum recovery advice they give their patients.
We received advice for you from over 100 nurses!
Take note of the clear themes - limit visitors to take that time to bond with your new baby, accept help from others, do skin-to-skin and sleep when the baby sleeps!
Good luck in all your new parenting adventures!      
Top 20 Tips from Our Nurses and Midwives:

  1. Absolutely choose a hospital for the care you will receive and not the new beautiful building. You're much more likely to receive a positive birth experience and the education you receive from your postpartum nurses will make all the difference in the world.
  2. As a former postpartum nurse, I noticed how often new mothers put their needs last. It seems often families look at postpartum time as party time. I have seen c-section moms sleeping in the same room as 15-20 family members talking loudly and passing baby around for hours. My best advice is for new mothers tohave 1-2 designated family helpers to be there to help care for baby while she gets much needed naps throughout those exhausting first days. Baby's hunger cues are often missed when there are too many visitors for long stretches of time. It is difficult for new mothers to set limits.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask people to leave. I have seen so many new mothers that are worn out from feeling like they cannot turn people away. Turn off your phone too. I wish I did for the first couple of days.
  4. Breastfeeding is an acquired skill for you and baby, be prepared to be patient and try, try again. It is a wonderful thing for you both, but needs to be learned. Do not suffer in silence, please contact your OB/midwife for lactation nurse help/referral if you are having difficulty with latching and/or very sore nipples.
  5. Sleep when baby sleeps.
  6. If you had a cesarean, take a pillow for the car ride home to support your incision for the bumps in the road.
  7. Use the Dermoplast (benzocaine topical) spray before having a bowel'll make the process a whole lot more comfortable and a lot less scary.
  8. If someone offers to come over so you can shower, take them up on it. For c-section moms remember not only did you have a baby, but you had major surgery.
  9. Trust yourself and your instincts. Pick and choose the advice, tips, expert advice etc. that works for you. And know that if you're worried about being a good mom, you already are.
  10. Padsicle! Pad, ice pack, tucks, then a spray of Dermoplast.
  11. Know your body. When you get home, use a hand held mirror to look at your perineum
    or you cesarean section incision. This way, if you experience problems, you will have a baseline to know if something is different, for example: increased swelling, redness, tenderness, or drainage from incision. It is helpful in knowing when to contact your physician with these issues.
  12. Limit your visitors. You will not get this time back. Use it to bond as a family, seek help with breastfeeding. Skin to skin is the best bonding tool! We want to help you succeed with breastfeeding. You can press your call light for every feeding if you need to. Your baby needs your love and protection. You are your baby's primary advocate. Not all mothers' choose to or are able to breastfeed. How you feed your baby is your decision and your nurse will support you. Ask visitors to wait until you've been home for at least a couple weeks. Settle in, recover. Don't be afraid to ask for help. If someone wants to visit, ask them to leave their little ones at home.
  13. Keep drinking water to flush out the excess fluids and keep hydrated. Accept help from anyone willing to cook a meal, run errands or do housework so you can rest and spend more time enjoying your new baby. Get outside for a walk. Fresh air and activity help to restore and rejuvenate sleep deprived minds and bodies as well as improve the blues!
  14. While planning your new routine, ask someone to watch the baby for an hour of each day for you to spend as you please.
  15. Good nutrition is key. Have a healthy snack each time you feed baby if you don't have an appetite. Try to get a good four hour blocks of sleep several times a week. Ask support people to change, burp, comfort baby and only bring baby to you for breast feeding to extend your sleep when tired. Have a good support system and don't be afraid to ask them for help. Soak up the sun when you can. Have an enjoyable activity to look forward to each week. Try to get out of the house, but if you can't do something you enjoy at home or pamper yourself. Relax and enjoy your baby. Use what works for you and don't try to follow everyone else's advice.
  16. Accept offers of help and assistance with meals, cleaning etc. I tell father's to give moms one uninterrupted hour to herself each day. She can bathe, sleep, read, or anything that she wants for that hour. Daddy needs time to get to know baby too!
  17. When you get home, set visiting hours and have each visitor bring groceries or food (they'll be thrilled to get what you need). And stay in your pajamas. Most people will be less likely to overstay their welcome.
  18. Once "settled" in with the baby reach out to a Mother's group ( stroller club, baby sitting co-op, Mommy and me Gym or Yoga class), to get out of the house and receive and provide support to other new Mom's.
  19. Give yourself a break. Sit at the bottom of the shower and cry if you need to every now and then, parenting is hard work. Learning to breastfeed is hard work and so is incorporating another member into your family. Sleep deprivation and shifting hormones will, in fact, make you feel crazy at times but it will get better. You will find your new norm. It's not all cute onesies and hair bows, it's more like poopy onesies and newborn rashes, and that's ok.
  20. You're stronger than you think! Don't worry about what others might think. Enjoy every moment. Parenthood is a beautiful experience. Allow yourself grace & room to grow.
Do you have advice for new moms as well? If so let us know. We'll keep rolling out the advice.
For additional resources for mom visit our Healthy Mom&Baby website!
Originally posted on AWHONN Connections .

Monday, August 31, 2015

What's Your Secret? NightLight Doula

You wake up, the early morning sun seems promising outside your window. Your baby is placed in your arms, and you feel refreshed and rested.
What did your friend say at the park, about the sleepless nights of early parenthood? You think, curious.
She and her husband have been stressed out, madly in love with the new addition to their family, but a little overwhelmed with balancing care for their child, responsibilities, and their careers. They're finding it difficult to manage their time. Sleep, frankly, has become an oversight for them.
She'd asked you what your secret was to handling it all. "Without question," you said," NightLight Doula." That's what Paulette Butler, owner of NightLlight Doula offers: the peace of mind that new parents dream of.
A postpartum doula is a practice originating in ancient Greece. This custom granted parents assistance with the exhausting and overwhelming aspects of new parenthood, so that they could simply enjoy their love for each other and their newborn, while maintaining the quality of life they were accustomed to. Paulette believes in this concept so much that she studied the practice with DONA (Doulas of North America) and became a postpartum doula.
Paulette is a mother and grandmother who, though too modest to admit it, has seen it all when it comes to raising children. She offers overnight in-home doula services, respectfully catered to your parental style, that put your child in caring, experienced hands. She watches the newborn all night long and will lovingly bottle feed or bring you your baby for breastfeeding. Paulette will change and comfort baby back to sleep, while you and your partner enjoy the deep sleep you need and deserve. She's even willing to assist with household chores such as laundry.
When you tell your friends Nightlight Doula is your secret, you'll have an image in your mind of Paulette greeting you with her warm smile when you enter your nursery well-rested, and seeing her softly singing to your newborn, cradled in loving arms. Let Nightlight Doula provide you peace of mind.

Guest post by Tommy Scanlan Copy That Copywriting and Marketing

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Soundtrack to Early Fatherhood 2015

By John Walsh
Mrs. Chase was hard of hearing, a fact for which I was grateful to God on this particular evening. At midnight, I slid “London Calling” by the Clash into the CD player and cranked up the volume. About two dozen people were jammed into my less-than-palatial third-floor apartment off Chalkstone Avenue in Providence, including my fiancĂ©e, Deb. My grandfather owned the property, and I was fortunate to live there for a very reasonable monthly rent.
The party was thick with smoke— cigarette and other kinds — and a parade of beer cans and liquor bottles marched across the kitchen counter. I opened a window. It was the middle of winter, but everyone was sweating.The shock of cold air coming into the room felt life-giving. Some people shouted over Joe Strummer’s ranting vocals. Others abandoned conversation altogether and started pogo dancing in the living room, causing the floor to heave.

Mrs. Chase — in her 80s, barely five feet tall, and no pushover — lived alone in the apartment below. We were familiar in a way that is inevitable in a triple-decker. She knew I went to the drugstore every day for a pack of Merits and would sometimes enlist me to buy her snacks or a quart of milk.

On the day after the party, I started down the back stairway with a profound headache and a trash bag full of clinking empties. Mrs. Chase’s door creaked open. Bad hearing notwithstanding, she must have registered the blowout raging above her the night before.

“I am so sorry,” I said, stopping on her landing. Mrs. Chase looked at me funny through her fili-greed, cat’s-eye glasses. She was holding a dollar bill .“The noise last night,” I said, rolling my eyes and pointing upstairs. “The hi-fi was a little loud,” she said, matter-of-factly, handing over the dollar. “Would you mind getting me a bag of Funyuns at the Rite Aid?”

And that was that. I wanted to hug her. Such was life for Deb and me in our carefree mid-20s. Back when I couldn’t play Talking Heads or the Replacements loud enough. Back when people had speakers the size of small refrigerators.

Then we got married, bought a house, and had our first child
— the time-to-grow-up trifecta. Late-night parties gave way to early-morning feedings. Empty bottles of soy formula were now more likely to gather on the kitchen counter than Rolling Rocks. I quit smoking. Sleep, or lack thereof, consumed our thoughts.

In a moment of early parenting foresight, Deb and I splurged for a battery-powered baby swing over a cheaper, windup model. It was worth every cent. We’d nestle baby Pete into its quilted seat, flip the switch, and watch him succumb to the swing’s never-ending sway. It was a sure-fire remedy for crying, whining, crabbiness — or whenever Deb and I just needed a break. My wife christened the swing the Neglect-o-matic.

Our repertoire of sleep-inducing tactics omitted the most obvious one: keeping the house quiet — specifically, the “hi-fi.” We hardly lowered the volume, thanks to sage advice from Deb’s older brother, a lifelong musician and father of three. “Don’t turn it down and you’ll never have to,” Steve said. “Pete will grow up thinking all that noise is normal.” He was right. We played music in the house and on the road, pretty much all the time, and it rarely disturbed our son’s dreams.
I did, however, modify my playlist — less head-banging stuff, more acoustic guitar. Sweet songs about early fatherhood resonated as never before: “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon; “Daddy’s Baby” by James Taylor; “St. Judy’s Comet” by Paul Simon; “Pony Boy” by Bruce Springsteen.

As I shared Cheerios, one by one, with baby Pete in our kitchen, these pop gems connected me to wisdom of the ages: being a young dad is wondrous and tiring, humbling and transformative.
And that came through, loud and clear, at any volume.

— John Walsh (, a monthly contributor, is a partner in the East Greenwich-based communications firm Walsh & Associates.
Copyright © 2014. LMG Rhode Island Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Breastfeeding: The Movie

Sorry, not a full length movie, but a wonderful depiction of the anatomy of a breastfeeding baby. (No popcorn needed)

Image courtesy of duron123 at

Watch here

Friday, September 26, 2014

Overnights with the Twins

I'm currently doing overnights for newborn twins, and the experience is
downright magical!

Watching these two little sweeties sleeping next to each other is adorable; to think they
have been together since conception is amazing.
They wake during the night at the same time and feeding them both is a breeze. 
The trick is having their heads in the correct position in the glider, and my arms fit comfortably around to hold the bottle in their eager little mouths.
Time to burp? No problem!
Each twin fits perfectly on my upper chest, while my hands gently massage their backs. 

I'm honored to be assisting their wonderful parents, who need a good nights sleep a few times per week. They need to be on their toes for the twins two older siblings.

postpartum doula rhode island
Do you need overnight care for your newborn?
If a friend or relative is expecting, my overnight doula service is a great gift.