Doulas, breastfeeding and postpartum

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Maddie McMahon is a Doula, Breastfeeding Counsellor, blogger and author of two books, Why Doulas Matter and Why Mothers Matter.

Episode highlights

  • Maddie’s work as a Doula – providing social support for mums. Maddie has supported over 120 births and over 100s of postpartum since 2003 – she sees it as a profound and fulfilling role. Such a beautiful community, amazing and nurturing, sisterhood

  • We discuss how Maddie ensures she looks after her own self care – certain amount just reflecting and learning through the job. Everyone has certain limits, need to understand – what are the boundary and rules

  • She takes the advice she provides to her doula clients “Breathe, stay in the moment, take it one step at a time” - “We need to doula each other”

  • Advice for mums; “reach out for help, known what your boundaries are”

  • As a doula, some births deplete you (psychically) whilst other energise you

  • Each doula have their own rituals after each birth – called the birth hangover.  Reaching for sofa days or carbohydrates. Not so easy if you have small children

  • Maddie notes it is important to sleep, eat well, appreciate yourself.

  • Maddie is the author of 2 books. Why Mothers Matter – Why Doulas Matters. 14 books have been written in the series by pinter and Martin - all aspects of birth and parenting. Why it Matters books covering all motherhood journey. Great reviews on Amazon.

  • Maddie’s books were result of 14 years of hanging out with new parents and seeing the impact of babies on people practically and emotionally and how Doulas fitted into that landscape.

  • We have forgotten, as a society, that we are evolved as a tribal spices living in close proximity and that by the time we had our first child we would have had an education in motherhood supporting others.

  • We now don’t have the postnatal support. Having 1 month to get to know our new baby and recovering. Expects mums to be back in Tesco 2 days later! Crime that our culture allows mothers to be shopping within 2 days of birth.

  • Quote from Maddie’s book from a breastfeeding counsellor- “We are under pressure to carry babies without a hitch, birth like a pro and mother like the baby doesn't exist

  • Most common thing she notices is women apologising for their bodies post childbirth – make a point that they have amazing bodies and that they have just birthed a new human being.

  • Women do not know that the bump will not simply just disappear after birth and blame media – size 1 jeans 2 days later. Images quite damaging. Messages seep into our subconscious – dangerous.

  • Other tips for pregnant people – prepare for postnatal period – although this is different for everyone – depending on support and relationship with support – family dynamic are different.

  • Making a postnatal plans as well as a birth plan. Who is filling up the fridge.

  • Cluster feeding evenings, that's normal and coping strategy, how can partner be useful additions.

  • Babies don't need fixes or solutions. Reach out for help and support

  • Cluster feeding – when mature milk comes in. Early morning, high sugar milk and as day goes by volume of milk reduces; small snacks of high fat milk, needs to work harder for the milk – can feel overwhelming – evolution due to predators at night, needed to feed baby high fat milk to have longer sleep. Have some who can bring food, someone to hold baby for a shower or walk around the block. Most useful thing is to have is a friend, support or doula to call when feeling of anxiety, overwhelm, usually that's enough

  • Giving birth is like starting a new job; all uncertain whilst finding your feet with all honourable changes.

  • Tips for not falling into traps of gurus; well meaning advice on social media what worked for them might not work for you. Mothers will blame themselves. Two things to look out for with advice online; (1) is this evidenced based with science to back this up (2) Is the person using language of advice or suggestion – done in a non-judgemental way. We can't pass judgement until we walk a mile in their shoes.

  • Maddie’s advice of doing one thing for the house, e.g. cleaning the rug, one thing for the baby and one thing today for you as a mum – helps to feel like keeping the wheels on everything.

  • Have a family calendar in the kitchen and mum time is in the calendar. Grab your time in the calendar!

  • Maddie writes in her book that she loves to see a messy house as it means the mother is doing something that makes her heart sing or just sprawling on the sofa with a child and a book.

Relevant links

Maddie’s books can be found here.

Maddie’s website: Blogger at The Birth Hub

Maddie’s website - Doula

Developing Doulas Course Leader

Mentor, Doula UK

Breastfeeding Counsellor for Cambridge Breastfeeding Alliance Registered Charity Number 1161678

Maddie can be contacted at

Developing Doulas Facebook Group

Maddie’s Twitter @Doulamaddie