What is a postpartum doula? A postpartum doula is a woman hired to “mother the mother” after childbirth. Sometimes postpartum doulas say they are “grandmothers for hire!” Usually a postpartum doula is an experienced mother herself, so she knows what type of help is needed during the babymoon. The postpartum doula fills multiple roles in emotional support, babycare, and helps with light household chores. But, a postpartum doula doesn’t provide medical advice or assistance.
Your postpartum doula should be accepting of your feelings and attentive to your needs. A new mother may be feeling unsure about how to breastfeed, how to soothe her newborn baby, or may feel unsure about infant sleep methods and needs.
You may be experiencing the baby blues and feeling weepy and tired as you adjust emotionally and physically to motherhood. A postpartum doula will provide practical, experienced support: giving you time to sleep, eat and refuel emotionally.
If you have previous mental health issues, a postpartum doula will help you get the sleep that you need to keep a dark relapse at bay. Read about Dyane Harwood’s experiences here.
A postpartum doula will help bring order to the home when you and your partner are too tired or too busy with the all-encompassing needs of your newborn baby. She will straighten up the house, prepare nutritious meals for you, the Dad and the other children.
In other words, when you hire a postpartum doula, you will be able to have some time to physically recuperate and emotionally regroup from giving birth. You can share the full family responsibilities with an experienced non-judgmental person. This support helps on many levels, including helping you heal and reducing stress to facilitate the nursing relationship and milk production. Social support can help mitigate the feelings of isolation and the baby blues; maybe even prevent the blues from extending and morphing into a longer-term postpartum depression. It can be lonely being a new mom; the presence of a postpartum doula in the house relieves emotional stress and loneliness for the new mom. A postpartum doula should help with referrals to professionals in your community, such as lactation consultants and mental health therapists, when necessary.
Some postpartum doulas I can personally recommend in the Morris County, New Jersey area:
Prepare for post-baby support a few months before your baby is due to be born. You can go to the online directories and call a few people to see how you connect with each other on the phone.
Then, you can meet the people you like best in face-to-face interviews and make your choice. Discuss your expectations of your needs, see how the fit feels with your family, make sure she will not judge your parenting choices, but support you in yours. And, of course, discuss fees and her schedule. Some postpartum doulas provide overnight care as well as care during the day. You can find registries of certified doulas with the organizations listed below.
Postpartum doulas are trained and certified through different organizations. Some of the larger organizations that certify postpartum doulas are: Doulas of North America (DONA), Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), Birth Arts International (BAI).