“An extra set of experienced hands and a good listener”

Postpartum doulas are hired to spend time in your home, with you and your baby, getting things set up and settled in. Postpartum doulas are contracted for a set number of hours (either on an hourly rate or a package of hours). These hours can be used for consecutive days in a row (especially during the first two weeks), a few days per week, daytimes or nighttime. The schedule really depends on what your family needs and what the doula is able to accommodate. One undisputed best practice is to have a postpartum doula meet you at home on the day you arrive from the hospital to make the transition as seamless and stress-free as possible.

One important thing to know about Postpartum Doulas is that we are educators (vs someone like a babysitter, nanny or night nurse that perform their functions apart from you). This means we’re not just going to do whatever the task is for you, we’re going to teach you how to do it as we’re assisting you. We’re constantly trying to work ourselves out of a job. :)

But what does that mean exactly?

A doula is someone you can think of like a very skilled friend or family member…who comes without emotional baggage. Why is this important? Well, because pretty much everyone in your personal life is going to have emotions about the birth and the baby- your partner is becoming a parent and they often don’t know how to best support you. Your parents are welcoming a new grandchild (possibly the first) and may have trouble seeing you labor. People will have opinions about how to do things, when to do them, and what not to do, during birth and postpartum.

A doula is completely free of those emotional ties…she shares her compassion, empathy, knowledge (always based in evidence), physical support (like squeezing your hips, sifting your belly, getting you in the tub, massaging your back, doing acupressure or bringing you water and cold compresses to name a few). She holds space for you, listening to your concerns, supporting you with her energy, being quiet when needed and encouraging when you need to hear how strong you are. Our single and only goal is to help you have the best, most fulfilling, empowered birth experience you can have. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll get everything on your preferences list because, let’s face it, birth is unpredictable, we can guarantee that we will be by your side the entire time with a single-minded focus. You, your family, your baby.

Can you give me some examples?

Absolutely! Some of the tasks Postpartum doulas can do for their families are:

  • Birth healing (preparing sitz baths, perineal ice packs, compresses, massage, etc)
  • Diapering (including cloth diaper education)
  • Breastfeeding (latch, positioning, nipple care, routines)
  • Bottle feeding (preparation, warming, storage)
  • Baby care (bathing, swaddling, laundry)
  • Babywearing education
  • Soothing tactics and sleep strategies
  • Home organization (optimizing nursery, diapering and breastfeeding stations, sleeping)
  • Screen for Perinatal Mental Health Disorders (postpartum depression, anxiety, etc)
  • Meal preparation (light meals, snacks, etc)
  • Errands as needed
  • Provide professional referrals and community resources
  • Listening and emotional support
  • Processing the birth experience
  • Helping with sibling integration
  • Assisting with pet adjustment

Things we don’t do:

  • Watch baby when you are not in the home
  • Drive any of the family or family vehicles
  • Medical tasks (taking baby’s temperature, giving medications, diagnosing issues etc)
  • Speak with the pediatrician or obstetrician on your behalf

I personally think that investing in a postpartum doula is the best gift you can give yourself. You need time to heal, recover, sleep, relax and decompress. That’s already a tall order with a newborn…make it easier for yourself by hiring the help that’s ready and willing to assist you. :)

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