What is a postpartum doula? A postpartum doula is a woman hired to “mother the mother” after childbirth. The postpartum doula fills multiple roles in emotional support, babycare, and also helping with light household chores. However, a postpartum doula does not provide medical advice or assistance.
Usually a postpartum doula is an experienced mother herself, so she can be empathetic towards the new mom.
Part of the postpartum doula's job to be accepting of the new mom's feelings and attentive to her needs. A new mother may be feeling unsure about how to breastfeed, hold her newborn baby, or may feel unsure about infant sleep needs. The new mother may be experiencing the baby blues, feeling weepy and tired as she adjusts emotionally and physically to motherhood. The postpartum doula provides practical, experienced support in these areas.
A postpartum doula helps bring order to the home while mom is too tired to do so and too busy with the all-encompassing needs of a newborn baby. The postpartum doula straightens up the house, prepares nutritious meals for the mother and for Dad and the other children, if necessary.
In other words, when a mom hires a postpartum doula, she is able to have some time to physically recuperate from giving birth without having to immediately take on her full family responsibilities again. This support helps on many levels, including helping her heal and helping reduce stress to facilitate her milk coming in. This type of social support can help mitigates the feelings of the baby blues and help stop this from morphing into postpartum depression. It can be lonely being a new mom, and the nurturing presence of a postpartum doula in the house relieves the emotional stress and loneliness of the new mom.
The postpartum doula can also help with referrals to professionals such as lactation consultants and therapists when necessary.
It is best to prepare for support a few months before your baby's due date. You can discuss your expectations of need and how she might fit in with your family, her 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), and Birth Arts International (BAI).