Interview with Christie Ellis :: Nourished Postpartum

I’m so excited to have this interview with Christie Ellis, the Seattle based postpartum doula behind Nourished Postpartum. It’s always such a pleasure for me to hear how my peers began their careers in birth work and I’m honored Christie took the time out of her busy practice to answer a few questions about how Nourished Postpartum was conceived.Postpartum Doula Christie Ellis

What inspired you to become a Postpartum Doula?

I was inspired to become a postpartum doula by my own personal experience as a new mom. Living in Seattle, thousands of miles away from my extended family, I entered life after childbirth very alone, except for the couple weeks that my parents and in-laws visited in the beginning. I was so grateful for their company, yet it didn’t take long to realize that it can take much more than a few weeks to integrate a birth experience and adjust to life as a parent. While I did have a supportive spouse, local friends and a mom’s group that I participated in weekly, the lack of in-home help led to isolation and suffering for me. After I emerged from the newborn fog of my second child, I resolved to be part of creating more positive experiences for other parents. I wanted to offer parents nourishment, encouragement, and nonjudgmental support as they find their way in those early days, and it turns out, becoming a postpartum doula let me do just that.

When we show up in parenting, tune in to the needs of our child, and respond to them in love, we are doing a great job. And that is more than enough.

Do you offer any other services related to your Doula work?

I do! In addition to being a postpartum doula, I’m also a massage therapist specializing in in-home postnatal massage. I love being able to offer soothing touch that nourishes parents’ nervous system, helps them reconnect with themselves as individuals, and places a value on self-care.

What is your philosophy?

My philosophy is that my job is to nourish and nurture new parents so that they have the energy and confidence to face the challenges of early parenting and discover their own unique parenting style. There are already many people in parents’ lives telling them how they should do their job. Instead of adding yet another opinion to the heap, my style is to step back, encourage parents to tune in to their inner wisdom, and walk with them along the way. In addition to emotional support, I also nurture new families with food designed to meet their physiologic needs during the postpartum time. By offering massage, belly binding, and support in mindfulness practices to my clients, I’m able to further support their well-being and optimal recovery.

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Doula Care for The Postpartum Period

As a postpartum doula and childbirth educator, a large part of my job is helping parents learn to care for their babies, and themselves, independently.

Parents often want to know how long they will need postpartum doula care. I say book enough time to feel like you are maintaining a happy medium of your old life and new one. If you would like to keep up your previous lifestyle, book for longer, and vice versa.

doula care

What works for each family varies, but some examples of postpartum doula care schedules are as follows:

If one parent works and one stays at home, the family would have doula support on workdays.

When both partners are home everyday, they would hire help for every other day to have time off to recuperate.

Families with twins will want help daily, and ideally nightly, until sleep settles into a predictable and consistent pattern.

When there is a toddler in the family who isn’t yet in school, have a daytime nanny dedicated to ensuring this child has care and attention and a postpartum doula for the new baby.

A family with a live-in nanny who works during the day, may choose to hire night help and weekend support as well.

Some families have support every night, even 24/7 care, up to a year and beyond.

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Natural Health after Birth: The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness by Aviva Jill Romm

With so much focus on the pregnancy and birth, many new parents are taken by surprise with the demands of newborn care and the mother’s need for rest after childbirth.

One of my favorite books for planning for postpartum care is Natural Health after Birth, The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness by Aviva Jill Romm. I discovered this book after the birth of my first baby and I remember thinking, I wish I would have known about this book during my pregnancy, it would have given me so much more perspective on planning for after the birth. I especially appreciated the recipes for teas and nourishing foods.

The Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness

This book reads as if you are speaking with your no-nonsense friend, who did all the research already and has a balanced view of western and eastern medicine and care. In chapter two, which is titled: New-Mother Care around the World, we receive an overview of postpartum traditions from different cultures.

Throughout the book each chapter stands alone, the first half of the book gives more of an in-depth summary of becoming a mother and planning for postpartum, while the second half of the book guides you through common ailments experienced by mama and baby during the fourth trimester.

There are sections we can turn to for answers about returning to work, breastfeeding, bonding with a new baby and intimacy. Aviva also focuses on the father or partner’s role in postpartum care, how to create a support circle and asking for professional help when necessary.

The author is a mother, doctor, midwife and herbalist, trained in internal medicine at Yale, who specializes in integrative medicine for women and children. I highly recommend this book to pregnant and new mothers, as well as family members who will be caring for you postpartum.

The Fourth Trimester and Postpartum Care

The fourth trimester is the baby’s transition to being outside of the womb during the 12 weeks immediately following birth.

One-reason parents often find themselves hustling to find a postpartum doula after the baby has been born is they’re having challenges coping with the changes brought by the fourth trimester.

A healthy infant’s goal is survival and it’s a 24-hour job meeting these needs, which are especially challenging when it’s the middle of the night, you’re exhausted and your baby is communicating in one of the only ways they know how: crying.

fourth trimester


Common challenges include, but are not limited to:

1. Newborns often have their days and nights mixed up, so you might see them fall into a pattern of resting more during the day and waking more to feed at night.

2. Intermittent growth spurts during the first 12 weeks of life, they usually last 2-3 days and baby can appear fussy, hard to settle and feed more often.

3. Baby will only sleep while being held and wakes as soon as you put them down in their bassinet or crib.

4. Doing everything to comfort your baby, checking the diaper, feeding, cuddling, and making sure their clothing is comfortable, the room temperature is appropriate, and they still will not settle into sleep easily.

5. Parental sleep deprivation: getting less uninterrupted sleep per night than what is recommended for your body to function optimally.

By having a postpartum doula, parents receive assistance with understanding their baby’s cues accurately. They gain the tools necessary to meet their baby’s needs with confidence, which helps the entire family to be happier and better rested.

Reference: The Fourth Trimester: Understanding, Protecting, and Nurturing an Infant through the First Three Months by Susan Brink