I recently met with a friend of mine who is pregnant with her first child. She told me that she had to look up what a postpartum doula is because she's never heard of it before. I shouldn't have been surprised, most people may not know how a postpartum doula can benefit their growing family. It's after experiencing life with a newborn, that you realize having some kind of support would have been worthwhile. Personally, this was my experience. I thought I could do it all on my own, and boy, was I wrong. Between all the hormonal changes going on in my body, the lack of sleep, and the overall adjustment after having a baby, I needed to take care of myself but I was busy giving all of me to my daughter. I was pouring from an empty cup.
Here's some FAQs about what a postpartum doula is and how they can support you during this wonderful, and sometimes overwhelming time.
What is a doula exactly?
The word doula comes from ancient Greek meaning "women's servant." In today's world, the word doula refers to a woman (or man) who supports another woman before, during and after birth. For purposes of this blog post, I am discussing postpartum doulas, who help women after birth.
What does a postpartum doula do?
If you haven't already checked out my services, click here to read about the postpartum care that I provide.
None of my friends used a postpartum doula, why should i?
A lot of people aren't aware that this type of service exists, which is why you or your friends haven't heard of a postpartum doula. If you ask your friends with kids if they would have liked the type of services a postpartum doula provides, I'm sure a few of them would say yes!
For how long should I hire a postpartum doula?
This is completely different for every family. Typically, the time frame can be from 2-6 weeks. Some people may want support for the entire "fourth trimester," also known as the first three months of their baby's life. Others may only need support the first week at home with their newborn. If you have family help a few days a week, a postpartum doula can fill in on the days that you're by yourself. Additionally, if your partner has parental leave for a week or two, hiring a postpartum doula to come a few days will be beneficial for both of you. A postpartum doula is there to educate the parents. It's reassuring to have a supportive caregiver with you to answer all your questions and to also be an extra set of hands. A postpartum doula can show you and your partner the basics of newborn care, while caring for the rest of the family, so you can truly experience the "babymoon".
I aim to provide services to meet the needs of each individual family. If you hire me, I will work with you to tailor my services to your family. I work Monday through Friday and in 3-4 hour shifts. Currently, I do not offer overnight support as I care for my own little family, but if you're looking for this service I can refer you to the right doula.
How much does a postpartum doula cost?
Fees on Long Island vary from $25 to $40 an hour, depending on the doula. Some doulas may require a minimum number of hours to be contracted. If you want support and not sure if it's something you can afford, put the services on your baby registry for your friends and family to purchase for you.
When should I hire a postpartum doula?
I suggest meeting and hiring a postpartum doula while you're pregnant. You'll want to make sure that your doula will be available around your estimated due date and it's best to book them in advance. You will want to have ample time to discuss scheduling and your goals and expectations. A postpartum doula can also help you plan your postpartum period while you're pregnant, so you feel confident and prepared when the baby arrives.
I am currently offering a complementary prenatal session for families who book my services. This is a nice way for families to become acquainted with their doula and begin to develop a relationship.
My mother, sister, aunt (insert family member) will be around, can't they be my doula?
That's great that you will have family support after you have your baby. Not everyone is so lucky! More and more people work and it's difficult to take the time off. If you do have a family member with you the first few weeks, that's wonderful. Family members usually mean well, but sometimes they like to push their opinions on you. For example, you read that it's good to wear your baby often but some in-law or cousin is telling you that you'll spoil the baby if you don't let him/her sleep in their crib. This conflicting information can make the transition to parenthood even more confusing. Your family is emotionally invested in you and your baby. A doula will provide you with thoughtful support, however it will always be objective and evidence-based.
This isn't my first baby, do I really need postpartum care?
So you already know how to care for a newborn, and maybe you met all your breastfeeding goals with your first child. However, becoming a mother of multiple children requires great balance, which may be difficult while you've been up all night caring for a newborn. A postpartum doula can ease this transition for your entire family. Also, you might see that you receive less support from family and friends because they think that this will be easy for you since you've already done it before!
Do doulas push breastfeeding on their clients?
I can only speak for myself, but I will always support a mother in her decision to either breastfeed or formula feed. I believe that breastfeeding may not be right for every mother and I'm there to help you meet whatever goals you may have. I would never turn away someone because they decide to formula feed. I am trained in lactation basics and if you have any issues that fall outside my scope of practice I can refer you to the appropriate resource. I also make sure you're nourished, hydrated and comfortable to help set you up for success.
Do you have to have postpartum depression to hire a postpartum doula?
Absolutely not. The word postpartum often has a negative connotation because people connect it with depression. Postpartum just refers to the period after a woman gives birth. You do not need to have a postpartum mood disorder in order to benefit from a postpartum doula. However, if you are struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety or the baby blues, you may find the non-judgmental support and listening ear of a doula exactly what you need to help with your recovery. Additionally, a postpartum doula can refer you to people, organizations, and support groups who specialize in postpartum mood disorders.
How does a postpartum doula differ from a baby nurse?
A baby nurse takes care of your newborn, usually away from the family and for an extended period of time. A postpartum doula is hired to take care of the whole family (mom, baby, partner, siblings and even pets). They ensure the mother is nourished and rested so she can take care of her baby and provides the entire family support.
Will my husband/partner feel left out?
Postpartum doulas are also there to support the husband or partner. It's easy for the partner to feel left out or helpless, especially if the mother is exclusively breastfeeding their newborn. A postpartum doula can provide the partner with skills and information in order for the partner to adequately support the mother and baby and become a connected family unit.
What are your goals as a postpartum doula?
I want women to feel supported during their recovery and their transition into motherhood. I hope to provide moms with helpful and useful tips on how to properly care for themselves. There's no reason to go through the first few weeks of your newborn's life in a fog, so I want moms to feel pampered in my care. I also want to foster a sense of independence through my teaching and assistance. I hope that families will begin to feel confident with their skills and secure in a new routine that they will find less of a need to use my services as the time passes. If you miss my postpartum care support, I'm always available for postnatal yoga!