What is a postpartum doula and how can they help new moms after birth?

As I’ve talked about in previous posts, I believe it’s really important to not only create a birth plan to include your ideal birth preferences, but to also create a postpartum plan before you have your baby so you can ensure you have a restorative and healing environment after you give birth.  

The Fourth Trimester is a time of major transformation, when you bring all the energy and changes from your pregnancy and birth into parenting your baby and recovering from birth.

My own personal birth experiences were amazing, but my postpartum experiences were awful, filled with stress, tears, rage, and isolation. I was a hot mess after two of my three kids were born.  These experiences are what led me down the road of mental health care, personal growth, photography and eventually choosing to train and work as a postpartum doula. 

Although many people now know what a birth doula is (or at least have heard of it), the role of a postpartum doula, is still widely unknown, so I’m here to share about what a postpartum doula does and why you should definitely hire one as a part of your upcoming postpartum plan!

Newborn baby girl lying in her crib

What is  a postpartum doula?

“Doula” is a greek word that means female slave or servant. At its core, the job of a doula is to serve a person, usually a mother, through a major life transition.  A postpartum doula is someone who is brought on as part of a new mom or family’s team to take care of the birthing person’s healing, recovery and transition into parenthood, while educating and providing resources for the family on taking care of their newborn.  The major role of the postpartum doula is to help the family make a smooth adjustment and to educate them so they ultimately feel confident in caring for their newborn. 

What does a postpartum doula do?

This is an especially great question because even though that definition above sounds great, you really want to know what that means for you!

 The services I provide include but are not limited to:

  • Education and Guidance for the new family on baby care and feeding methods

  • Teaching calming/soothing techniques

  • 100% Emotional support for family

  • Assist with non-medical self-care recovery measures for Mom

  • Grocery Shopping and Errand running

  • Infant care while mother rests

  • Baby laundry

  • Loading/Unloading dishwasher

  • Light housework

  • Simple meal and snack preparation

  • Escorting mother and/or baby to follow up appointment

  • Care for older siblings (while mom is present and cares for baby or vice versa)

Studies have shown that women who have social support during the postpartum period tend to have less postpartum depression, breastfeed for a longer duration and make a better adjustment to parenthood.

Something important to note is that a doula is not a medically trained professional, so they won’t do any medical exams or give medical advice, however postpartum doulas are trained in the normal postpartum recovery and can help you decide if something should be checked out by your doctor or pediatrician.  

mom and big sister holding newborn baby girl’s hand

Why should you hire a postpartum doula?

The great thing about hiring a postpartum doula is that you can communicate your specific needs and then work out the hours and days that you want them to work with you.  For instance, ideally I advise moms have a postpartum doula come visit you within the first 3-5 days after birth to check in on you and then visit 2-3 times weekly for the first 6 weeks after birth, possibly transitioning to only once a week toward the end of your 4th Trimester.

Hiring a postpartum doula is the way to help you bridge the gap between the birth and the wait until your 6 week check up with your OB or midwife.  Postpartum doulas can help you identify or manage a postpartum mood disorder, remind you that you are doing a great job and support you as much as needed so you don’t get carried away with hosting family or friends, cleaning, or becoming overly active in those first couple months, which can extend your healing time and make your recovery take a lot longer!  A postpartum doula is like a buffer to help protect the sacred space of mothering immediately after birth.

Another great thing about what I do, is I make sure to talk over the phone and then meet you in person before you even hire me, so we can make sure we’re a good fit for each other.  It’s really important to your postpartum experience that the people you surround yourself with are a good fit for you, your family and your needs.

If you are pregnant and wanting more resources, check out my Phoenix Recommendations for birth and postpartum support.

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