Postpartum Doula | September Mother to Mother
Welcome everyone to Mother to Mother, where every month we talk to another mother who is a professional in one field related to motherhood. In our September Mother to Mother we get to talk to the incredible Gemma Cawlley, a postpartum doula working with moms all over the Greater Washington Area.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi there, my name is Gemma Cawley. I’m a mama to two girls aged 7 and 11 years old. I’m originally from England, but have lived in the US for twenty years. I am a licensed and certified Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor, and Sleep Consultant. I love the work that I do and am humbled to be able to help so many families in the community. In my spare time I love to read, dance, and star gaze.
What made you decide to become a Postpartum Doula in the first place?
Back in England I had worked for several years as a Social Services Nursery Officer; helping families in difficult situations and circumstances. I loved helping families in need. Unfortunately, my work would not translate to the US and my young heart fell in love with a man who I would later come to marry. I’d helped many families during my time in social services and grew fond of working with families during the postpartum period. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I truly began to understand the importance and need of postpartum care. After giving birth to my first child, my in laws visited from over seas for a couple of weeks and then I was left alone. My husband had returned to work and I was very much alone. I’d worked with babies for all of my working career and felt well equipped to handle the postpartum period on my own. I was wrong! I was not prepared for the sleepless nights. I vowed at that time, that no mother should have to go through the postpartum period alone.
In 2015 I formed New Parent Harmony LLC. I gained my certification as a postpartum doula and began helping families looking for extra support. I continued to educate myself and gained my certification as a lactation counselor; being able to give families lactation support during their postpartum visits and being able to offer lactation as a solo service for those needing just lactation support.
My growth didn’t stop there. I continued on to certify myself as a Sleep Consultant. Having the ability to offer doula care with lactation and sleep coaching has been so fulfilling. I’ve been able to help families in all the crucial ways to enable a smooth and enjoyable postpartum period and beyond.
Tell us about your work with moms and how you help them.
Each and every families needs are different during the postpartum period. It’s my job to openly listen to each families goals for the postpartum period. Some families require primarily baby care while they rest, other families want help with laundry, cooking and cleaning. No two families are alike and no two days look the same. I’m there as a supporting role, openly allowing families to talk about their emotions, offering evidence based information where needed with regards to what’s normal and what’s not, offering guidance on baby care, lactation and age appropriate sleep patterns. I’m also there to help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and any errands. I’m trained and able to identify postpartum depression and can direct families to professional services that can help, and will offer ongoing support as part of their care. My aim is to allow parents to gently transition into parenting, have time to rest and recover, and to truly embrace and bring harmony to the postpartum period.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I love meeting new families and seeing them transition from their prenatal days through the postpartum period. Quite often prenatal families focus their attention on the birth and not always the postpartum period. Once baby arrives, there can be a lot of emotions and parents are often tired. Being able to watch them transition from the early tired days, to energized and fulfilled parents is awesome. The early days fly by so quickly and being able to be a part of that special time is so heartwarming.
What’s the craziest part about your job?
Not necessarily crazy to others, but to me, the marketing aspect of my job is crazy. As a service industry, I am constantly keeping up with marketing initiatives and answering calls and emails. Some weeks are super crazy and other weeks I get no correspondence at all. It’s maddening at times, and hard to schedule things on my calendar. I’ve had a couple of crazy things I’ve endeavored while working too. Things that aren’t exactly in the job description of a doula, lactation counselor, or sleep consultant. I’ve decorated a nursery, fixed a leaky sink, organized multiple closets, help construct a crib, moved furniture, and changed a tire.
Never a dull moment!
If you could impart one piece of wisdom to new or expectant moms, what would it be?
Don’t buy into Mom guilt; there is a lot of it around. As a parent, you do the best that you can and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You don’t have to do it alone.
Thank you so much Gemma for joining us for our September Mother to Mother series and for sharing all your wisdom! I love that we now live in a time where it’s recognized how hard new mothers have it and there is a support sysytem to lean on if you know where to look for it. Hopefully by sharing about Gemma and all the other women we’ve shared in this series, moms will now know where to turn.
If you enjoyed reading our September Mother to Mother and you’d like to reach out to Gemma, here is her contact info:
New Parent Harmony LLC