Working as a Team of Ayurvedic Postpartum Caregivers
Replacing the Ayurvedic Postpartum Doula sole practitioner model with a Group Practice:
How this model can better support the caregiver and the caregiving in general.
Ayurvedic Postpartum Doula care is hard work, especially in cultures that do not have awareness and practices in place to support a new mom and baby. By working as a team of caregivers to provide a diverse range of services, Ayurvedic Postpartum Caregivers can be sustained in their work, as they strive to offer the best they can to new mothers, their babies and families.
In talking with other Ayurdoulas, or postpartum caregivers who integrate Ayurveda into their practices, it is clear that it can be draining at times for the caregiver. We feel devoted to serving her and to helping her retreat into her Sacred Window. We come committed to applying appropriate nourishment, body, mind and spirit support, and to help her bond with her newborn baby.
Between planning and preparing, cooking and cleaning, bodywork and herbal support, consultation and advocacy, we often find ourselves wearing multiple hats. We provide an array of services, and do an incredible amount of work for one person. Then we return home and find we have little left for family and obligations waiting. This is a drawback of the field, that it is not practiced widely enough for there to be a system in place to support it.
We (the team at the Center for Sacred Window Studies) believe that support for the mother is applied before any hands on action is taken. It is the caregivers ability to embody the qualities we want to instill in the mother that will be her first medicine. It is our embodiment of love, support, patience, calm and a grounded presence that will create the healing environment which mom can surrender into her cocoon of care, knowing she is held safely.
While we as caregivers will manage wearing all those different hats, what if there is a more sustainable model? We envision a model that combines a group of caregivers who can work together and provide an array of services while being able to lean on each other. Supported caregivers can offer better support to mothers. Working with as a team of Ayurvedic Postpartum Caregivers can offer inspiration, a further reach and the ability to do more. Teams can learn from each other, and be a collective consciousness that can expand beyond what one caregiver can do independently.
We may have a service we are particularly drawn to. For example, one Ayurdoula may love cooking for postpartum, while I specialize in Mother’s Abhyanga and Infant Massage instruction. Another may love consultation, while another specializes in herbal support and facilitating beautiful, labor intensive sitz bath preparation. The specialties are wide and also include home care, team leading, family support, etc. What if we work together as a team in a group practice? We each provide the service we are most fulfilled by. We communicate together and support one another. The family is being held by more hands and we are simultaneously being held by our group.
When envisioning what The Sacred Window School could be after the passing of Ysha Oakes in 2015, the members of her Legacy Group spoke at length of sustainability. Ysha was overwhelmed in many ways by the school she had created. The ability to create sustainability, be it a school, a doula practice, or the life one wants to live, will ensure it can be maintained and generate happiness.
How to build your team?
It is with this idea of sustainability in mind that we have developed a Group Study option for the Ayurvedic Postpartum Caregiver (APC) Diploma Program. We envision small groups of colleagues, friends or individuals who want to go into a group caregiving practice together – who share the ideas of sustainability and support as explored in this post. Group study can bridge the gap of an in person learning environment and the online learning experience. Groups can sit together in a living room and attend the live online classes together. They can use the practicum assignments and final projects as an opportunity to create usable elements for their group practice. They can brainstorm with others around the country and the world about their thoughts and practices. While creating something local to their community, they can be a part of the larger growing community of caregivers offering specialized postpartum care around the globe.
I wish I had a group of caregivers to work with when I began my practice years ago. However, nobody else was doing this type of care, and it felt isolated and lonely at times. I believe that this work would have had a much greater impact on my community if I was part of a group of caregivers working together to provide more care experiences for families and offer a unified support net for women.
Important to our mission at the Center for Sacred Window Studies is the central focus of “mother and baby” rather than “Ayurveda for mother and baby”. There are times when a mom just needs support and this may look different for everyone. The thing about Ayurveda, is that it means life knowledge. It does not mean Indian food and spices, sesame oil abhyanga and pranayama. It can simply mean: food that is balancing for this particular woman, applying warmth through many methods, simple breath awareness and a loving presence. Ayurveda to us means applying balancing qualities to areas that are imbalanced. Ayurveda for postpartum care means using nature’s laws as our guide in caring for a newborn mother, baby and family.
Mothers and babies deserve the best start in the world together. They can receive that when the larger community begins to recognize their needs. By promoting individual and group caregiving practices, this awareness grows in communities, followed by larger communities. By creating sustainable group caregiving practices, we can maintain the work, AND have the opportunity to expand. It is this expansive possibility that fuels my inspiration for writing this. I found a group to help sustain me, and I hope we can inspire others to find groups to sustain them.
How are you fulfilled in your practice? Do you envision being more fulfilled? Is working independently more or less supportive than working as a team in your experience?
I would love to hear your insights!