We’ll start with the unfortunate truth: the US does not guarantee paid parental leave on a national level, and not all workers qualify for the six weeks of unpaid leave federal law mandates. According to the Washington Post, “Most Americans do not have access to paid family leave through their employer.” 

All of this means that there is no standard for when you return to work after parental leave: it could be six weeks or six months. But regardless, returning to work–for either the birthing person or partner, can be a significant transition. You may be thinking about everything from your energy levels, your schedule, pumping and/or feeding, your partner’s schedule, and how your baby will do without you. Here are 4 things to consider and plan for before you return to work. 

Know what your leave looks like and be open with your employer. 

Long before delivery you may be thinking about your parental leave options–both what your employer offers and what your ideal scenario might be. Be open with your employer and consider asking for something that might make the transition back to work easier. That might include returning part-time at first or working from home. Your employer might also be willing to be flexible in ways that they haven’t shared with you. Ask other employees or your employer directly about how others have returned to work after leave. 

Think about childcare after parental leave, and then come up with a back-up plan. 

You may have come up with the perfect childcare solution: you are returning part-time to work and a friend or family member is baby-sitting on the other days. In 2022, that might be problematic because of changes in school openings due to COVID. Or, the caregiver might have to quarantine after a COVID exposure. Problems could arise simply because they are not as reliable as you would like them to be. Whatever your childcare plan involves after you return to work, come up with a backup plan. If you have a family member caring for baby, what happens if they are sick? 

If you are working from home, remember that you are still working and taking care of baby is also full-time work. Although working from home can make it easier to care of baby, you should still try to have a secondary caregiver available. Some of our clients have utilized our postpartum doulas while working from home to ease that transition. 

Figure out priorities and roles for when return to work after parental leave. 

You partner may have taken little or no time off after baby arrived. But, your transition back to work is still a transition for them as well. Take time to figure out each of your priorities and roles. If you are not a morning person, consider having your partner take care of baby’s or the family’s morning routine. This way, you can get ready for work in the way that you need to. Discuss who will pickup baby or kids from caregivers, daycare, or school. You may have figured out a postpartum plan of who was cooking and cleaning, but you may need to revisit those plans if both partners are back at work. 

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your emotions and ask for help. 

The postpartum period can be difficult: you are adapting to a new family member. If you gave birth, you may be experiencing physical changes in your body as well (link to blog). You are going to have a lot of emotions–from being excited about being back at work to sad that your baby is someone else’s care. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that whole range of emotions and understand that they are all OK. If you being feeling overwhelmed when you return to work after parental leave, ask for help, whether from your partner, family, friends, or other loved ones.

We spend nine months getting ready for baby to arrive–both physically and emotionally. But the actual birth experience portion of your journey is relatively short. After birth, your body continues to change for many months. Here are some of the changes you can expect in the moments, weeks, and months after birth

What will I experience immediately after birth?

Immediately after birth, a care provider may place baby directly on your chest. This skin-to-skin contact helps regulate baby’s body temperature and calms baby. But it can also help your uterus contract to reduce bleeding. Bleeding may still be taking place from where the placenta was attached to the uterus or from any tears. A care provider might provide medication to slow or stop that bleeding, perform a uterine massage, or stitch the perineum. You might also shake, have contractions, feel weak, or be sore (you did just work very hard). 

How long does it take to recover from childbirth?

How long it takes to physically recover from childbirth depends on what happened during birth as well as the birthing person’s activity level. If you had tearing, an episiotomy, excessive blood loss, or a cesarean birth, it may take you longer to recover. In the days and weeks following birth, your body will feel different. You may be exhausted, bloated, and sore. The change in hormones can cause mood swings, sweating or hair loss. Pregnancy and childbirth also stretches ligaments and muscles, so your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles take time to tighten back up. If you had a c-section, remember that it is major surgery. You shouldn’t lift or over-exert yourself. Take the time you need to recover, listen to your body and be gentle with yourself

What are the emotional changes I’ll experience after birth?

Our brains are a part of our bodies, and the physical changes to our brains can alter our emotions. The change in hormones that happens in the postpartum period can make you feel happy, excited, positive, overwhelmed, sad, possessive, or disappointed. These are all normal. Making a plan for how family and friends (link to last blow) can help reduce stress. Prolonged and severe depression can also happen after childbirth, and if you (or your support network) are worried about a Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMDD) or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), talk to your care provider. 

What physical changes are not normal?

If you have any physical or emotional changes that concern you, talk to your care provider. They can help you determine what is normal and what isn’t. You should also talk to your care provider if you have vomiting, flu-like symptoms, fever, heavy bleeding, difficulty urinating, leg pain, vaginal itching, dizziness, shortness of breath, or racing heart. 

Can I recover more quickly after childbirth? 

The most important thing to do after giving birth is listen to your care provider. They can help you understand what you went through and how long it will take to recover. Make sure you prioritize your needs for rest, nutrition, and mental health. Many women feel physically recovered from childbirth around 6 weeks, but for most, it may take longer. 

A postpartum doula can provide education and support, and assist with newborn care, breastfeeding support, or anything else that can help ease the transition when a new baby arrives. 

Around 3.7 million babies are born each year in the US, but we are the only developed country with a rising maternal mortality rate. And that rate is worse for marginalized groups. Black women are three to four times as likely to die of pregnancy and birthing complications as white women and disabled people have a significantly higher risk of dying from pregnancy and childbirth than their able-bodied counterparts. Here is the important statistic, though: 60% of maternal deaths are preventable. Understanding the disparities and providing equity in healthcare access can decrease maternal mortality. To help increase awareness for maternal health, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recognizes Maternal Health Awareness Day every January 23. 

Here are some resources for expectant parents to improve maternal health.

Routine Prenatal Visits are Vital for Your Maternal Health and Baby’s Health

ACOG recommends that you schedule a visit with a care provider as soon as you know you are pregnant. Then, go to all of your visits, even if you feel fine. A prenatal care provider can include an OB/GYN, a family care doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a midwife. The March of Dimes has an extensive guide to prenatal care visits and what to expect. 

Understanding Pregnancy Helps a Health Pregnancy

Our belief is that education, collaborative provider partnership, and unwavering nonjudgmental support can make pregnancy and childbirth one of the most fulfilling and transformative experiences of your life. Understanding pregnancy can help people know what to expect, what to look out for, and how to stay as healthy as possible. For example, preeclampsia is a leading cause of maternal mortality, but many people may not know their risk factors. ACOG has an infographic with preeclampsia basics and an FAQ about staying healthy before and during pregnancy. At Doulas of Baltimore, our Childbirth Education Classes help you feel informed and make confident decisions. 

Postpartum Care Should Be an Ongoing Process

While a lot of focus is placed on the time leading up to childbirth, ACOG has recognized that the postpartum period is important. For parents, this should mean planning and thinking about healthcare, feeding, care, and important decisions (link to last blog) before baby arrives. ACOG believes that postpartum care should be an ongoing process that is individualized for each birthing person. This is especially true for people who have other health conditions that may impact their postpartum health. March of Dimes has an overview of what to expect during postpartum healthcare visits. 

Each pregnancy and birth is unique. By helping parents understand childbirth and the postpartum period, we can hope for healthier families and babies. 

Being pregnant and preparing for birth can feel overwhelming enough without considering what happens when you bring baby home. But postpartum planning before baby arrives can save you a lot of stress when you will want to be resting and recovering from delivery. And, you might have postpartum brain fog that makes thinking about your options (not to mention making decisions) hard. At Doulas of Baltimore, we think of the first three months at home as the fourth trimester. The postpartum period comes with its own challenges and joys. Here are some basic questions to consider before you go into labor that will make your postpartum life easier. 

What will your home look like?

Because nesting is very real, you may have already set up a nursery or room for your baby. But realistically, this isn’t where baby will be spending most of their time. For the first six months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends baby sleep in your room. But where does baby sleep during daytime naps? Do you want to have a dedicated changing table, setups in different parts of the house, or a moveable station? Where will be the best place to feed baby during the day and at night? Consider the layout of your living space and the setup of cribs, feeding or pumping stations, and changing tables. 

What does everyday at home look like? 

A baby changes things: we know this. And postpartum planning involves thinking about the details of how things have changed. Who will feed baby when they wake up at night? Who will change baby? Who will cook meals? Who will walk the dog? Who will take big sister to school? Who will go to baby’s appointments? Who will clean and tidy the house? 

Who can you go to for extra support? 

While everyone might want to meet your new baby, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can provide the support you need. Consider which friends and family can provide practical support, like buying groceries, cooking meals, walking the dog, or taking care of siblings if you are at the hospital longer than expected. 

Who are the care providers you need?  

With care providers, there are the basic people you need to have planned out, and others that you may want to think about having lined up. While you’ve been dealing with an OB, midwife, and/or doula before birth, afterward you’ll need a pediatrician. You may also want a postpartum doula or lactation consultant. If you are concerned about postpartum depression or emotions after birth, you may want to find a mental health provider before delivery since they can have Before you leave the hospital, you’ll need a carseat installed, and we recommend having it checked by a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) or “car seat tech”.

What does post-parental leave look like? 

There is unfortunately no standard for parental leave, so consider when parents will be going back to work and what happens then. Do you have a nanny, babysitter, friend, or grandparent who can care for baby? Will you need a daycare? 


This is just a short overview of questions that we see new parents considering as they bring their babies home. Over the next months, we will be going more in depth on these questions and providing guidance and advice for the postpartum period.

We all know that bringing home a new baby means a big transition, whether it’s your first child or your fourth! Many of our clients realize the need for additional support during this transition call on a postpartum doula to help. Our postpartum doulas are Newborn Care Specialists and professionally-trained experts. Daytime postpartum doulas can provide professional support including soothing techniques, feeding guidance, and addressing questions about postpartum physical and mental health. Our overnight postpartum doulas provide much-needed support making sure that the whole family (including visiting parents and in-laws) get the sleep they need, offer feeding support, and encourage safe and developmentally appropriate sleeping habits. 

Sometimes our Newborn Care Specialists are incorrectly referred to as a night nanny or a night nurse. However, doulas and Newborn Care Specialists are neither nannies or nurses, but rather have specialized training for newborn care. 

During every overnight shift, your doula will provide you with a log and notes detailing your baby’s night. Below is a sample of exactly what a shift log from your doula/NCS may look like. 

Overnight Postpartum Doula Shift Notes

8:45pm: Arrived for my 9pm shift. Removed shoes, changed into a fresh DOB shirt and washed hands. Greeted Dad and was escorted upstairs where Mom was nursing the baby. I said hello to Mom and Baby as she got up to change his diaper then chatted with her while she tried to nurse him some more. 

9:15pm: Baby was a bit fussy, so I offered to carry Baby while the parents showed me around the house and chatted about plans for the night. Mom plans to nurse him for his next feeding and then I’ll give a bottle for the one after that. I encouraged both parents to get ready for bed and worked on getting Baby settled down. He was swaddled with a paci then we walked and jiggled and patted until he finally stayed asleep at 10:35. I tried laying him down several times before that but he would start to cry and jostle around. 

10:35 pm: Baby asleep in bassinet.

11:25 pm: He had hiccups and was awake, replaced paci and rocked with hand on his chest.

11:40 pm: Back to sleep.

12:30 am: Fussy. Changed wet diaper and took him to Mom to nurse. 

1:00 am: Burped, changed poopy/wet diaper. Swaddled with Paci and rocked to settle. 

1:15 am: Soundly asleep in bassinet.

3:35 am: Fussing and grunting. Went downstairs to prep a bottle with monitor. Baby finished 2 oz of the 2.5 oz bottle of EBM. 2 huge burps half way through. Texted Mom so she could wake up and pump. 

3:50 am: Back asleep in bassinet.

4:30 am: Brief wake up. Wouldn’t settle with paci, hand on chest or rocking. Finished maybe 1/2 oz of bottle. Burped and right back to sleep. 

6:15 am: Fussy and wouldn’t stay asleep in bassinet. Wanted to be held and would go back to sleep and then wake up as soon as I laid him down, so we rocked in the nursery chair. 

6:35 am: Changed wet/poo diaper. 

6:45 am: Mom came down and nursed him while we talked about the night, including creating sleep associations, tips on keeping baby awake during the day for developmentally appropriate stretches and nursing on demand not to exceed 2.5 hours during the daytime hours. 

7:05 am: Said goodbye to a well rested family!  


The goals of an overnight shift might change from night-to-night or family-to-family. This is why our Overnight Newborn Care package includes five continuous weeks of three 10-hour overnight shifts per week. This allows your whole family needed rest and sets a foundation of healthy sleep habits for your baby. This postpartum doula care package can be duplicated for extended support as well. Contact us to find out more about our overnight newborn care.