Let’s be real. The prospect of having a baby is both joyful and anxiety provoking. Some expecting parents have little to no experience holding a baby, caring for them, or changing a diaper. That’s OK! It’s normal. What’s not necessary is for new parents to have to struggle in the first weeks and months when welcoming their baby home. That’s where hiring a postpartum doula can be a valuable asset to new families.
What is a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula is a trained professional who comes into your home to support you and your family after your baby is born. They offer emotional, physical, and evidence-based informational support to new families. Whereas newborn care specialists focus primarily on the newborn, a postpartum doula’s focus begins with the new mom.
In our society, once a baby is born, the shift of attention from mom to baby is immediate, which can result in moms feeling alone, wondering if what they are feeling is normal, and often searching for validation that they are doing it “right.” The postpartum doula can provide guidance, reassurance, and ensure that mom is being taken care of.
Who can benefit from postpartum doula support?
Every family who welcomes a baby or babies into their home can benefit from the support of a postpartum doula. The postpartum period is critical for both the baby and the mother. Common challenges new parents face — such as sleep deprivation, feeding difficulties, and emotional fluctuations — don’t need to define the experience. Postpartum doulas allow parents to focus on the baby and their recovery, which significantly increases their experience in the fourth trimester.
While every situation is different, typically postpartum doulas help families with:
- Newborn care tips
- Feeding guidance
- Schedule suggestions
- Coping strategies
- Infant care so parents can rest
The doula will care for your newborn while giving new parents time for significant rest.
Even if you are choosing to nurse, there is great value in choosing doula support. Doulas help nursing moms by:
- Bringing the baby to you when it’s time to feed
- Giving you a glass of water and a snack when needed
- Take care of burping, diapering, swaddling, comforting, soothing
- Getting your baby to go down in their crib drowsy but awake
- Allowing the nursing mom to go back to sleep more quickly
In addition, postpartum doulas will help with the family laundry, light meal prep, and light housekeeping. Your postpartum doula can also provide resources and referrals for other professionals such as IBCLCs.
How do you choose the right postpartum doula?
While the postpartum doula field is not regulated, not all training programs are created equal. Families should look for postpartum doulas who are trained and certified by a widely recognized organization.
One resource for families is DoulaMatch.net. They define quality certification programs as ones that require in-person classroom work, self-study, and practicum work that has a publicly available code of conduct, standard of practice, grievance procedure, periodic recertification, documented continuing education, and evaluations from clients and health care providers.
Which organizations meet those criteria? DoulaMatch.net has a list that includes Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association (CAPPA) and DONA International, to name a few. Don’t let it seem overwhelming — one of the most important ways to know if the postpartum doula is right for you is your intuition.
When should I reach out if we think we want newborn care support?
Some families start planning as soon as they know they are pregnant. Others call looking for support when the baby is already here and they are struggling. There isn’t one specific time, and it’s never too late. When you call is the exact right time for you. The goal is for you to be matched with an amazing support person who will provide non-judgmental, competent care for your family — women who have a heart for this incredible time in a new family’s life.
Families that choose the support of a postpartum doula are making a beneficial investment in their family’s well-being. The early days of parenthood can be challenging. Who wouldn’t want help navigating those first few weeks when it can be the difference between feeling confident and rested in your journey into parenthood. For more information about postpartum support, visit New England Doula Support or email email@example.com. They are ready to answer your questions!
As seen on BostonMoms.com