Postpartum doulas seek to fill that gap in care for new moms and their families, combining physical, practical, emotional, and educational support. They care for the family as a unit, allowing them to focus on the key areas of rest, recovery, bonding, and baby care.
A visit from a postpartum doula might include time for you to take a nap, bath, or shower; completion of basic household chores such as straightening up or doing a load of laundry; answering questions about all aspects of newborn care and the changes in your life; reassurance that your experiences are normal and providing referrals to local resources as requested; helping you get comfortable bathing, wearing, soothing, or pumping for your baby; and more as you grow relaxed and confident in your new normal.
As you read this post, you may wonder if you could afford the luxury of postpartum doula care, but considering the long-term effects of this pivotal time of life, perhaps the real question to consider is, can you afford to not be well supported as a new parent?
Whether you had a vaginal birth, C-section, or adopted, your first baby or your fifth, a singleton or multiples, preterm or full term, the transition of adding a baby to your family presents unique challenges and opportunities. It will shape you as a person and a parent, for the rest of your life.
1. What do postpartum doulas do?
What a postpartum doula does changes from day to day, as the needs of the family change. Postpartum doulas do whatever a mother needs to best enjoy and care for her new baby. Some things may include supporting mother with infant feeding, helping with emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother–baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care. As well as teaching siblings and partners to “mother the mother”. Postpartum doulas also make sure the mother is fed, well hydrated and comfortable. A postpartum doula may provide nutritious meals or do some light cleaning.
2. How long does a postpartum doula spend with a family?
Doula support can last anywhere from one or two visits to more than three months.
3. What hours can I expect a doula to work with my family?
Some doulas work fulltime, with 9 to 5 shifts. Others work three to five hour shifts during the day or after school shifts until the partner or another family member gets home. Some doulas work evenings from around 6 pm until bedtime, 9 or 10 pm., and some work overnight. Some doulas work every day, some work one or more shifts per week.
4. What is the difference between a postpartum doula and a baby nurse?
The role of a postpartum doula is to help a woman through her postpartum period and to nurture the family. Unlike a baby nurse, a doula’s focus is not solely on the baby, but on fostering independence for the entire family. The doula is as available to the father and older children as to the mother and the baby. Treating the family as a unit that is connected and always changing enables doulas to do their job: nurture the family.
5. What is a postpartum doula’s goal?
The goal of a doula is to nurture the parents into their new roles. As they experience success and their knowledge and self-confidence grow, their needs for professional support should diminish.
6. How does a doula nurture the parents into their roles?
Self-confidence has a tremendous impact on a person’s ability to approach any task, and parenting is no different. Doulas are taught to always consider parents’ feelings and always build confidence whenever possible. Doulas accomplish this through praise, acceptance and a non-judgmental approach. In addition, the doula will teach parents strategies and skills that will improve their ability to bond with their babies.
7. Do doulas help mothers to deal with postpartum depression?
Unlike therapists or psychiatrists, doulas do not treat postpartum depression. However, they will help by creating a safe place for the mother emotionally. The doula will provide a cushioning effect by accepting the mother within each stage that she passes through. They relieve some of the pressure on the new mother by helping her move into her new responsibilities gradually. By mothering the mother, doulas make sure that the mother feels nurtured and cared for, as well as making sure she is eating well and getting enough sleep. In addition, postpartum doulas are trained to help clients prepare themselves for parenthood, maximizing support and rest. These doulas will help their clients to screen themselves for postpartum depression symptoms and will make referrals to appropriate clinicians or support groups as needed.
8. Do doulas teach a particular parenting approach?
No, we support a mothers’ parenting approach. Doulas are good listeners and encourage mothers to develop their own philosophies.
9. How do postpartum doulas work with a mother’s partner?
A doula respects the partner’s role and input, and teaches concrete skills that will help the partner nurture the baby and mother. The doula will share evidence-based information with the partner that shows how his or her role in the early weeks will have a dramatic positive effect on the family.