What's a Post-Partum Doula?
A post-partum doula “offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester; assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying; offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and makes appropriate referrals when necessary." DONA
In most cultures throughout history, the mom of the new mom was right there to mother the mother as well as the babe. She made the entire experience feel normal and sacred. Handmade crafts were made, wholesome meals were served, baths were drawn, older siblings were snuggled, windows were opened to let in the air, other village mamas were called in when there were unanswered questions, and compassion, love, and wisdom flowed freely.
This is what I try to do. Help and nurture the whole family in the fourth trimester with hopes of normalizing the experience, sharing in the joys and woes, and creating the sense of a village welcoming the new child.
FAQ about Post-Partum Doulas
"What isn't a doula?"
A baby-nurse or night-time nurse, a nanny, a midwife, a therapist, a lactation consultant, a pediatrician, a judge, a jury, a housekeeper, or a chef.
"Do I hire a doula instead of having my mom come help?"
Some grandmothers simply can't get to their grandchild in the first several weeks; some do not have healthy relationships with the new moms or dads; some are deceased. In these situations, having a doula can be especially helpful in her role of mothering the new mother (and father). When grandmas are around (and are a blessing), a post-partum doula can still be quite helpful. In the words of one wise mama: "My mom understood that my son's food sensitvity was something she wouldn't have caught, and our doula did. Unlike in Ye Olden Days, when women had their baby/their sister's baby/their cousin's baby or SOMEONE'S baby around all the time, now women might go 30 years between having babies in your life on the daily, and even the best-intentioned grandmas get out of practice."
"How long and frequently do doulas work with a family?"
Doulas typically work between a 2-5 hour shift, during which time a newborn will typically eat a couple times, pee and poop, take a snooze, and be awake for a hot minute or two. During this time, your doula can observe all major functions, preempting any problems, and offering suggestions if something's not quite right. This leaves plenty of other times for chatting, chores, childcare, etc. A doula works with a family anywhere from 1-7 days per week, anytime between 0-12 weeks post-partum,