What does a postpartum doula do?
The early weeks and months after a baby is born is an important time of transition for a family, whether the first or fifth child. In traditional cultures, the mother is cared for and supported by other experienced mothers as she rests, recovers and learns to care for and get to know her baby. In today’s society, this special “lying in” period has become extinct. New moms are expected to resume their daily tasks all while recovering physically and emotionally, caring for her baby and any siblings, and managing the redefinition of roles and relationships.
A doula is a trained professional woman caregiver with a quiet presence in your home who provides individualized care to families with a newborn. Postpartum doulas understand that both new and experienced parents need time to adjust to their additional responsibilities. She provides practical help to make the adjustment period feel less overwhelming and reduce family stress. A doula offers non-judgmental guidance, information on normal postpartum restoration and infant development and assists the whole family emotionally through this major life transition. A doula does not take over the care of the baby or impose her styles on you, but rather she will provide you with evidence-based information and essential support to help you develop your unique parenting style. Armed with experience, patience and a sympathetic ear, a postpartum doula will hold your hand, hand you a cup of tea and help you embrace your new role.
Ideally, a doula first visits the mother during pregnancy but may be hired after your baby arrives. After the birth, she comes to your home to provide guidance in all aspects of newborn feeding and care, she is a mentor who answers your questions and offers assurance.
A doula assists with holding and diapering the baby, taking care of siblings and the baby while parents nap, shower or take a much needed break. She can also offer practical help as time permits including help with household organization, preparing simple meals, assistance with laundry, light tidying or errands. Doulas do not do major house cleaning. They also do not perform any clinical tasks or diagnose medical conditions, although they will refer you to a medical professional as needed.
Pregnancy, birth and the early weeks at home with a new baby are exciting times. They are also busy, often confusing and overwhelming times when families need a tremendous amount of support and information. People who use a doula after the birth of their baby find that the adjustment is easier.
With nurturing postnatal support, the incidence of postpartum depression decreases and parents find that they have greater confidence which facilitates bonding and breastfeeding. Every day can be different with a new baby at home, so we will talk and adapt to your needs each day I am with you.
- Emotional support and reassurance
- Newborn care assistance
- Non-medical physical support
- Family and sibling adjustment
- Breastfeeding support and instruction
- Coping strategies for new parents
- Infant soothing skills
- Making appropriate referrals and providing local resources to fit your needs
- Answering questions and giving encouragement
- Accompany parents to doctor visits or other outings
- Support for fathers/grandparents/partners
- Light household tidying
- Errands and grocery shopping
- Help with laundry, dishwashing
- Simple meal preparation
Postpartum doulas do not provide medical services or treatment for mother or baby, nor do we provide heavy housekeeping.
Postpartum doula care should be started within 3 months of the birth, the sooner the better. I generally spend 2-5 days a week with your family for 3-5 hours per day (minimum of 3 hours). I have worked with families for anywhere from a few days to several months depending upon the needs of the family.
With enough notice, I can accommodate most scheduling requests. Advanced scheduling is recommended to reserve the time around your estimated date of delivery, I am, however, often able to accommodate families who realize they need doula support after their baby has arrived. Evening, night and weekend service is offered depending upon availability and your family’s needs.
© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2012