Who uses postpartum doula care?
Anyone can benefit from postpartum doula care as services are customizable to suit the family’s needs. Sometimes a family only wants one or two visits and other times regular visits over weeks or months are preferred. The most common situations in which a postpartum doula’s services are requested:
- Families with other children
- Mothers who wish to breastfeed for the first time
- Mothers who were on bedrest throughout pregnancy
- Recovery after cesarean birth or difficult delivery
- Transitioning after loss & grief
- First-time parents
- Young parents
- Families with little local support
- Families with non-local or estranged relatives
- Parents of multiples
- Deployment of partner
- Recent relocation
- Partner works frequently
- Single parent
- Illness in the family
- Postpartum mood disorder
- Premature birth/baby on apnea monitors
- Babies with colic, reflux, or special needs
As a postpartum doula, what exactly do you do?
I provide personal care, family care, infant feeding help, emotional and physical support, help with chores, and education. In greater detail, this may include:
- “Mothering the mother” — self-care facilitating (run a bath, foot massage, apply warming aids, fill a peri bottle, prepare sitz herbs, set up essential oil diffuser, etc)
- Tenth Moon Care Package (optional add-on)
- Basic baby care (changing, holding, soothing, dressing, playing, bathing, etc.) while you attend to personal needs
- Newborn cord care tips
- Minding of older children (getting dressed, feeding, helping with homework, putting to bed, etc.)
- Occupy baby during doctor’s visits
- Helping with introduction of pets to baby
- Acting as human ‘baby monitor’ so parents can enjoy in-home date night
Infant Feeding Help
- Breastfeeding troubleshooting
- Pumping guidance
- Set up pump, milk storage, bottles
- Have nipple cream, breast pads, and other goodies handy
- Nursing bra fitting assistance
- Positioning help
- Bringing baby to you when it’s time to nurse
- General reminders — you can blame ‘breastfeeding brain’!
- Bottle feeding techniques
- How to choose the right bottle
- Supplementing logistics to protect milk supply
- Resources on milk donors/donation
- Birth story listening & debriefing
- A shoulder to cry on and/or a cheerleader for your triumphs
- Discussion of risk factors and/or any concerning symptoms of postpartum mood disorders
- Birth Story Writing (optional add-on for birth doula clients)
- Gently suggest to friends/family who have overstayed their welcome to depart
- General reminders amid ‘postpartum fog’
- Guided Postpartum Art Therapy (optional add-on)
- Healthy plant-based nourishment for you in the form of a prepared meal
- Snacks & drinks brought to you while you rest
- Optimal nutrition suggestions
- Natural remedy suggestions for common ailments
- Reminders to stay hydrated
- Assistance with getting into bath or toilet area
- Bengkung Belly Binding (optional add-on)
- Nearby errand running
- Light cleaning & maintenance housework (dishes, folding laundry, changing bedding, taking out trash, etc.)
- Feeding & walking pets
- Organizing clutter zones
- Education on basic baby care, baby feeding, techniques for soothing, safe sleep guidelines, navigating pediatric appointments, & more
- Knowing what’s normal & what could use an expert opinion
- Babywearing assistance
- Access to my lending library of relevant books
- Local references & resources
I do not provide:
- Medical advice or diagnoses
- Postnatal clinical exams
- Surgical wound assessments
- Maid services (heavy housework)
- Babysitting (client must remain in the home)
When should I hire a postpartum doula?
Ideally, a planning session would take place before visits begin, so ample time should be provided for all parties to prepare and lock in preferred dates. However, last minute requests are still possible and can result in very productive visits! Below is a sample guideline of common issues that would be more emphatically addressed in these timeframes, in addition to the topics proposed above.
- Postpartum (PP) Week 1: The cornerstone of care rests on getting your family settled at home. You’ll receive reassurance during the phase when milk comes in, and preparatory breastfeeding guidance.
- PP Weeks 3-8: In the second month, babies become fussier and sticking to any kind of routine is nearly impossible. We can divert extra consideration to family scheduling and baby soothing techniques.
- PP Weeks 10-12: This is a great time to begin making connections beyond the ‘postpartum nest,’ preparing for a return to work, and/or starting to test the progress of your physical and emotional recovery. I can take care of mundane chores so you can enjoy a more active life in sync with your swiftly maturing baby.
Can you expound upon the baby care you provide?
My intention is to give you more time to foster a deep connection with your baby, not less! You will be able to snuggle more with your baby, languish with more relaxed feedings, and forget worries about household preparations or sibling needs (for example). You will be taught basic newborn care and have the opportunity to practice with trusted support an arm’s reach away. You will be given space, time, and encouragement to learn about and grow into your own mothering style.
When you must take care of personal needs, I can console baby with responsive attention so s/he is not left alone or in distress. An extra body in the room is also a blessing during the witching hour — I can help deflect some of that cranky energy!
In what other ways do you help with cesarean recovery?
I can ease the transition from hospital to home. Making this adjustment after major surgery is no simple feat; it will behoove you to have all hands on deck. While you rest and recover, I will attend to endeavors you cannot physically accomplish. I can also help position baby for nursing in a way that doesn’t compromise your surgical wound.
In what other ways do you help with vaginal birth recovery?
I can help you achieve an agreeable balance between rest and healthy activity. After any birth, many families wish they had spent more time savoring their baby, bonding, and soaking in the birth high. Why waste these precious, fleeting moments on monotonous duties when you can outsource help to grant you such liberation?
What’s the difference between a postpartum doula & a baby nurse (NCS) / night nanny / home health nurse?
A postpartum doula’s goal is to help a family get back on their feet after birth, so her services are usually not needed beyond 12 weeks post-birth. Though, this may not be true for the other roles listed above.
A baby nurse (also known as a Newborn Care Specialist or NCS) focuses solely on the needs of the newborn, while a postpartum doula balances the needs of the entire family and cares for them as a whole.
A night nanny typically takes over all nighttime care of the baby (including putting baby to bed, diaper changes, pacifying, and feeding) so the parents can sleep.
As mentioned in my response to the “baby care” question, a postpartum doula doesn’t focus her care completely on the baby but rather on building the parents’ confidence to care for their baby independently.
A home health nurse is a clinical role that involves assisting a patient (mother or infant) with their medical needs. As mentioned above, a postpartum doula doesn’t perform clinical assignments or give medical advice.
What’s the benefit of hiring my birth doula for postpartum doula care?
For birth doula clients, requesting postpartum doula care is a wonderful way to bring a natural close to the continuum of your relationship from pregnancy through the Fourth Trimester. A familiar face, a trusted ‘handmaiden,’ one who knows what you’ve been through, might be the perfect person to help you adjust to your new life at home.
Why would one seek support from a postpartum doula even with a vibrant support network of friends & family?
Relatives and friends are tremendous assets to the postpartum support network! But sometimes we may feel obligated to entertain or host guests who arrive in the postpartum weeks, even with the visitor’s good intention to help with everyday functions. Also, we may feel more self-conscious around people we know well, as their opinions matter to us and reacting in an unpopular way might have lasting consequences. Then of course, the logistics: it may not be feasible for friends and family to be present when you need them most, and this is when a postpartum doula care fills in the gaps.
Many new parents have an individual or two in mind who nitpicks about the cleanliness of their home, comments on their appearance, questions their parenting choices, or shares privately discussed information with others. If at all possible, these people should not be given responsibilities within the impressionable postpartum healing space! Just say, “Thanks, but my postpartum doula has that covered. Let’s meet on neutral territory in about 40 days!” (Or something like that :-P).
A few more reasons why hiring a postpartum doula can be a gift incomparable to the value of unpaid friend & family support:
- For the especially lucky, friend and family helpers may at first show up in droves to help — but this enthusiasm is likely to wane as the days or weeks pass and the birth high fades. As a postpartum doula, it matters not when you need me. I will feel as enthusiastic to care for you & your baby on day 1 as on day 40 & beyond.
- Friends/family often default to: “I’ll hold the baby so you can finish chores.” Contrarily, my approach is: “I’ll take care of chores so you can bond with baby.”
- You are in control! You will have approved me to serve you in your home and I will listen to what YOU want.
- I promptly take care of needed tasks as requested.
- I know to approach the sacredness of your postpartum den with sensitivity.
- I will only visit when we have scheduled a session. There is no feeling of obligation to invite me in, as may be the case with friend/family helpers; you decide when you want me to come and that is when to expect me.
- I don’t anticipate being entertained or hosted.
- You won’t hurt my feelings if you feel the need to shorten our visit.
- My goal is to allow space and time for you to progress along your path of healing and reorganization of family life. This goal is not always the primary focus of friend/family helper’s visits.
- I won’t give unsolicited advice in the absence of a problem (we will come to a mutual agreement about your education wants). I offer a safe space for asking questions and receiving answers as needed. Whether you follow this guidance is not my business, contrary to a friend/family helper who might feel entitled to know the outcome.
- You don’t need to ‘put your best face forward.’
- I offer my support without judgment & 100% shame-free.
What kind of training do you have?
These ventures have had elemental influence upon my approach to postpartum doula work:
- An intimate involvement in the devoted care of my own two newborns
- Experience in child-minding
- Volunteer work as a peaceful parenting educator
- 6 years of nursing my first child; child-led weaning again with my second child
- Personal experience with postpartum mood disorders
- Assistance of other postpartum mothers
- Breastfeeding wisdom via self-study & more formal training
- Success with diastasis recti healing protocol
- Intensive labor doula training with Birth Boot Camp
(Read more here)
At this time, I am not certified with any organization as a postpartum doula. There are several reasons for this including a high value on the real-world experience accumulated by helping families, a commitment to self-initiated study, and a passion for continuing education. My training as a Certified Birth Boot Camp Doula and Birth Boot Camp Instructor has informed much of the basic approach I bring into postpartum doula work.
Foremost, I follow your family’s lead when it comes to meeting your needs. I feel this is especially critical as a special guest in your home. I offer quality care in a professional, responsible, and ethical manner that doesn’t overstep the traditional bounds of my role. Upon reserving my services, a contract will be outlined with the expectations of my work for you.