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Devon Clement: Founder of Happy Family After | Motherhood Q&A

Devon Clement: Founder of Happy Family After | Motherhood Q&A

Discover insightful information about a postpartum doula's role in a new family's postpartum transition. Devon Clement, founder/ CEO, and dedicated Doula, at Happy Family After shares valuable insights on navigating the journey of motherhood and current trends in the industry.

 

1. What inspired you to start a postpartum doula agency?

 

New parents have so little support: we live further from our families and communities, the healthcare system is terrible, and the internet can be a curse as much as a blessing. I was working on my own, helping all kinds of families—first babies, second babies, twins, triplets—and I just got too busy! There were more clients than I could handle, and I wanted EVERYONE to have support. So I started building a team of caregivers. Some were already working on their own, some were just great people who needed training and then were off and running!

 

2. What exactly is a postpartum doula? What’s the difference between a birthing doula and a postpartum doula?

 

A doula is basically just a support person. A labor/birth doula supports the parents during pregnancy and birth, the postpartum doula supports once the baby is born. We do everything from newborn care (especially overnight so parents can SLEEP!) to teaching and guiding parents to build their confidence, to helping around the house. 

 

3. What unique services does your agency offer to support mothers and caretakers during the postpartum period? How long does a doula stay with a family?

 

At Happy Family After,  we are very focused on SLEEP! Not only do we take over baby care overnight so parents can get the sleep they need, we also work with the baby to create good routines and sleep habits so they’re sleeping through the night by the time we finish working with them, usually around 12 weeks. We also provide sleep training services to families with older babies. All kinds of support are important, but a well-rested parent is just way better equipped to face all the challenges (and delight!) a new baby provides.

 

4. How do you ensure that your doulas are well-trained and equipped to provide exceptional care to new mothers and families?

 

There are a lot of really excellent doula and newborn care training programs out there, so we make sure everyone on our team is trained with at least one of those, if not several! I also provide a lot of training and guidance to the team through continuing education workshops, monthly webinars, and direct mentoring. A great thing about having a team is that every caregiver has access to the knowledge and experience of all of us! So they learn much faster than if they were just gaining experience on their own. I can’t be in two places at once, but I can share my expertise with my whole team so the clients all benefit from it. 

 

5. What are some common challenges that new mothers face during the postpartum period, and how does your agency address them?


Oh, there are SO many challenges. I think mainly it’s the overwhelming combination of the physical recovery of birth with the new 24/7 responsibility of taking care of a baby—and wanting to do it all PERFECTLY, because society has told us that’s a possible and achievable goal. Sleep is the biggest one, because without sleep, your brain doesn’t work the way it normally does. As a client (who hired us after the baby came) once said, “This is the hardest job I’ve ever done on the least sleep I’ve ever had!” With caring, expert support, you can feel much more confident and able to relax and enjoy your baby, instead of stressing about every little thing. We reassure our clients that they’re doing everything right, or we help them tweak it if something isn’t quite how they want it to be. And we make sure they’re feeding and caring for themselves as well as the baby!

 

6. Can you share a success story or memorable experience from your agency's work with new mothers?

 

Oh gosh, we’ve had so many amazing clients over the years! It’s hard to pick just one. I think my favorite is when we’re able to really change their whole experience of parenting by getting the baby sleeping. If they’re reaching out to us after baby is here, we’re often tweaking a lot of how they’ve been doing things. They’re often using diapers that are too small and experiencing leaks, or haven’t realized you can take the newborn sling out of the bathtub and make bathtime a much more enjoyable experience for everyone. 

 

I also love supporting parents who’ve been diagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety. Being someone they know they can trust absolutely to care for their baby while they care for themselves is such a huge relief to them, and really speeds up the healing process both physically and mentally. 

 

7. In what ways do you tailor your services to meet the individual needs of each client?

 

We know every client has different needs, so we really make it a point to cater to those needs. They’re allowed to schedule their caregivers whatever days and hours work for them. We also offer a lot of flexibility: we don’t require a certain number of shifts be booked (though they do get a price break the more they commit to). Our doulas are trained to be in tune with their needs and unspoken wants, as well as encouraging clear communication about what the parents are finding most helpful. Some parents want more baby care while they do their own thing, some want more hands-on support so they can learn. Some want to talk a lot and ask questions, some would rather have quiet. So we try to be the perfect “best friend” for each and every client, no matter their needs. 

 

8. What advice do you have for expectant mothers who are considering hiring a postpartum doula?

 

Don’t stress about knowing exactly what you want or need before the baby comes! We doulas are used to going with the flow and adapting to parents’ needs as they arise. No one has ever said “I hired too much help!” so don’t be afraid to bulk up the support, and DO NOT feel guilty about hiring help, even if you don’t know anyone else who has. They either have support they’re not telling you about, they’re struggling a lot in secret, or they have a magical unicorn baby (these are super rare)!

 

9. How do you foster a sense of community and support among the mothers you work with?

 

We work as a team with our clients, so often their community of caregivers is their main support system. It feels like having a whole cast of best friends visiting you. We also encourage and recommend local support groups, baby classes, and fun outings with other parents. We may also connect them with other parents we’ve worked with who are local to them or have had similar experiences. 

 

10. What trends or changes have you noticed in the demand for postpartum doula services over the years?

A. Awareness of and demand for postpartum support has EXPLODED over the last 15 years since I became a doula. People are realizing how valuable it is to have support, especially overnight! And with the increase of guidelines for safe sleep, It’s getting more important for parents to have support overnight to make sure babies are sleeping safely and parents are getting rest (rather than being so exhausted they fall asleep in a dangerous situation!). People are living further from their families and having babies later in life, so the “village” of grandparents and relatives is harder to cultivate.
B. The latest trend is people’s employers actually paying for these services for their employees, either directly or through benefits programs, which is just fantastic!

 

11. Looking to the future, what are your aspirations for the growth and impact of your agency in supporting mothers through the postpartum period? Tell us about your podcast!! 

 

We understand that hands-on, in-home care for the first few months postpartum is not an option for a lot of families due to cost. I want to make the knowledge, experience, and support of postpartum doulas available on a much more widespread basis, so I’ve been offering free monthly webinars on loads of topics like newborn sleep, traveling with baby, relationships after baby, etc. And, I just launched a podcast called Parenthood Prep, which releases every Monday. I’m in the process of working on a course for new and expecting parents which will include coaching calls with me and other experts in the field, so follow the podcast for news on that!

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