Reasons to Hire a Postpartum Doula
If you already have children, you’ll wonder why you never called her before. If you’re pregnant and reading this, she will quickly become your best friend. Who is she? The postpartum doula. Find out all about the postpartum doula and the benefits she can bring to your growing family.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
You may have heard of a doula but are still unsure exactly what or who she is. And a postpartum doula – how does she differ from any other kind of doula? Think of a postpartum doula as your support system when you leave the hospital. The postpartum period is a critical time of need – maybe even more so than the delivery and labor itself. After all, you have a whole team with you in the clinic but when you get home, you’re on your own. And that can be terrifying.
A postpartum doula is by your side as you establish your new life with baby – just as a birth doula is by your side throughout the delivery. Your postpartum doula fills the many practical and emotional gaps that appear when you bring a baby home from the hospital – she folds laundry, makes sure you’re eating properly, refills your water bottle while you’re breastfeeding, talks to you about the birth if you want her to, answers questions about your baby’s feeding schedule, and gives you a break when you need it.
Why Should I Hire a Postpartum Doula?
The real way of asking this question is, why not? Your postpartum doula is your support team, giving advice, answering questions, easing fears, and doing the dishes. What more could you want in those crazy days after giving birth?
Mothering the Mother
Having your first baby is such a steep learning curve you’ll quickly find yourself off the graph and on your own in no-mans-land, clueless about what to expect, what you need to be doing, and how you can cope with this beautiful, demanding baby you just brought home. Navigating the first days, weeks, and months after childbirth is stressful and scary. A postpartum doula is a nurturing, supportive figure that not only takes care of household tasks but also reassures you that you’re doing a great job and answers any questions you have about breastfeeding, changing, and bathing.
And if you already have one or more children, you may know all there is to know about breastfeeding and burping but you can’t work out how to feed your baby while making sure your older kids are happy and cared for. A postpartum doula helps you learn how to manage your growing family while also giving you much needed support when you are exhausted and recovering from the birth.
Twins or multiples? A postpartum doula will be worth her weight in gold.
Nurturing the Family
Unlike a baby nurse, a postpartum doula’s focus is not only on the newborn but she also offers support and help to the entire family – mom, dad, and other children. Mom needs her hand held and her questions answered, dad needs help managing the transition to his new role, big brother needs someone to play with while mom pays attention to his little sister. The doula helps nurture the family as a unit.
Ultimately, you need to learn how to parent and look after a newborn in the way that suits you – it is not the doula’s role to force you all to follow a particular childcare model or system. A postpartum doula is there to give you all the confidence and the skills you need to be happy, healthy parents – all the while assisting you with a non-judgmental approach and a smile.
What Services Does a Postpartum Doula Provide?
- Encourages mom to drink plenty of water and eat well
- Allows mom to rest while baby rests, to shower, and to nurture herself
- Answers questions about postpartum health and body care
- Counsels and coaches in breastfeeding or formula feeding
- Provides information on newborn care
- Prepares meals and snacks
- Cleans and sterilizes bottles, prepares formula
- Baby laundry, laundry folding, light household tasks like the dishes
What Doesn’t a Postpartum Doula Do?
- Provides medical care for the mother or baby
- Takes over the care of the baby
- Insists that the parents follow any particular style or program of parenting
- Heavy household tasks or heavy cleaning
Postpartum doula support can last for as long as you need it – from one or two weeks, to more than three months. The hours your doula is with the family depends on your schedule and your needs. Some postpartum doulas work full-time, others work in shifts (for example, in the hours when daddy is at work), and some work overnight to allow moms to get some much-needed rest.
The postpartum period is a time of transition, recovery, and building confidence. Hiring a postpartum doula is something positive you can do for your whole family. As your skills and your experience grow, your need for her will diminish. Although she will be the first you’ll call when you find out you’re expecting another addition to the family.