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So, you’ve heard the birth stories and are fully aware of how challenging those first few weeks after delivery can be on your postpartum body. Have you ever heard anyone talk about having a postpartum doula, though?
After birth, not only are you trying to adapt to life with a new little human hanging around the house, but you’re also trying to deal with things like sore lady parts, c-section recovery, and, of course, your first postpartum poop.
Suffice it to say, life after birth is not a walk in the park.
That’s where a postpartum doula comes in!
We know what you’re probably thinking: what is a postpartum doula? Do you HAVE to hire one? What are the benefits of hiring a doula after birth?
Well, lucky for you, many of us have asked the same questions a time or two. That’s why we’ve gathered as much information as possible to help everyone understand the benefit of a postpartum doula.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
First things first: what IS a postpartum doula?
I’ll never forget the first time I discovered that a postpartum doula was a “thing.” I was talking to a friend who told me she used to be a doula up north. I started asking her questions about the benefits of natural childbirth and her favorite labor techniques when I suddenly noticed the funny look she was giving me.
It was then she informed me she was a postpartum doula – not a birth doula.
Color me surprised to find out there was a difference!
A postpartum doula works to not only assist a family during the transitional period that comes from bringing a new baby home, but also to provide evidence-based information about various postpartum topics, such as:
- Emotional & Physical Support for a Mother’s Postpartum Recovery
- Breastfeeding, i.e., latching, nursing positions, and tips for exclusively pumping parents
- Basic Infant Care Practices
- Bonding Between Baby and Other Family Members
- Techniques for Infant Soothing, such as newborn baby wearing, and more!
Studies have proven that quality support should be an integral part of the postpartum period. Proper support can make the transition easier for every family member, including the new baby, parents, and siblings.
What Types of Tasks Does a Postpartum Doula Perform?
One of the greatest postpartum doula benefits is the versatility that comes with hiring one. Most of postpartum caregivers are willing to provide a wide range of tasks for families. This doesn’t mean that every postpartum doula (or the tasks they perform) is precisely the same.
A postpartum doula’s role in the household is to meet a family where they are. This means providing services that suit the needs of the parents, siblings, and new baby.
While some new moms might require more assistance with nursing or bonding with their babies, others might just want some extra help around the house. Some women might also need emotional support as they deal with the stress of a new baby..
Some of the most common jobs a postpartum doula does can include:
- Running errands for their family
- Offering breastfeeding support and advice
- Performing light chores around the house
- Preparing light meals
- Refering families to other experts, as needed
- Help siblings adjust to the new baby
- Encourage bonding between the new baby and family
- Assist with newborn care, i.e., diaper changes, soothing, and feeding
- Serving as an advocate for the mother during her postpartum recovery period
- Providing emotional support, particularly for mama
5 Reasons to Hire a Doula to Help During Your Postpartum Recovery
Now that you have a better answer to the question, “What is a postpartum doula?” it’s time to dig into the various reasons hiring one is a great idea.
We’ve polled our community and come up with the most significant postpartum doula benefits you’ll receive if you hire someone to help care for you and your family during your first few weeks at home with your new baby.
1. A Better Breastfeeding Experience
Whether you need advice on choosing a breast pump or how to increase your milk supply, a postpartum doula can help.
While not every postpartum doula is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), they are required to have general knowledge about breastfeeding best practices. From the best nursing positions to breastfeeding schedules, hiring a postpartum doula can increase a mom’s potential for a positive nursing experience.
2. Support and Education for Your Partner
While most partners are more than willing to do what they can to support their wives during the postpartum period, they’re not always sure what that entails. One of the most popular postpartum doula benefits your family will receive, is the knowledge of how to support the partner who has just given birth.
Your doula can guide your partner through all of the physical and emotional trials you’re going through in the first few weeks after birth and teach them how to help you.
3. Emotional Support During the Postpartum Period
Recovering from childbirth is about more than just physical healing. The emotions after giving birth can be pretty intense.
During the first few weeks after giving birth, I can remember moments when I felt like I was losing my mind. For me, it wasn’t postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression, it was more like a continual flow of emotions that were impossible to keep up with.
I was happy, scared, confused, and nervous all at the same time.
What’s important to remember, however, is that this is normal. In fact, up to 80% of new moms will experience the “baby blues,” which is a term for the general feeling of being blue and overwhelmed after birth.
Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are more serious problems, and if your postpartum doula feels like you might be experiencing one or both of these (as opposed to the general “baby blues”), then he or she can help you reach out to your OB for more specialized care.
Ultimately, by hiring a postpartum doula, you’ll have the extra emotional support you need to navigate this challenging and overwhelming time.
4. Tips for Taking Care of Your Postpartum Body
In case you weren’t aware (but we’re pretty sure you’re aware!), delivering a baby is no easy feat. Whether you have natural childbirth or c-section, your postpartum body will have some healing to do.
Luckily, postpartum doulas have plenty of tricks to help you feel a little bit better during recovery.
From sitz baths to cooling perineal pads, your doula will have the knowledge needed to help you care for your body after childbirth.
5. Making Your Postpartum Days Feel Less Chaotic
Do you know how everyone always tells new moms to “sleep while the baby sleeps?” Well, I have a bone to pick with that statement.
If new moms were to sleep every time their babies do, when would things get done?
Between housekeeping, meal prep, and self-care for moms (you know, indulgences like a shower!), managing daily chores isn’t so easy when you’re taking care of a little one. Most of the time, the only option is to work while they rest.
At least that’s the case when you don’t have a postpartum doula!
By hiring a doula, though, you might actually get the rest your body wants and needs. While you and the baby are taking a nap, you can put your doula in charge of those menial household tasks, like dishes and laundry, or have them do the meal prep for the night’s dinner.
All in all, postpartum doulas will ease some of the chaos that comes with those early days after having a baby.
How Much Does a Postpartum Doula Costs?
On average, a postpartum doula costs anywhere from $15 – $50 an hour, with the general rate of between $30 and $45 an hour.
While many families might struggle with paying this much on their own, it’s not uncommon for people to offer postpartum doula services as new mom gifts. These types of gifts also make the ideal addition to any list of baby registry must-haves.
Do Different Postpartum Doula Packages Exist?
Every doula will have their own unique way of running their business. Many of them will offer various postpartum doula packages to meet the individual needs of every family they serve.
Some might offer a la carte services for a particular hourly rate. Others offer specific postpartum doula packages that include options, such as first-day home care, the first few weeks, or even the first few months.
These packages will generally include elements, such as prenatal meetings, in-home support, a postpartum essentials kit, and more.
Questions for a Doula: What Should You Ask Before Hiring a Postpartum Doula?
If you go onto google and type in “postpartum doula near me,” chances are you’re going to get a ton of different results. With so many options to choose from, how do you know which doula is right for your family?
During your initial consultation, be sure to ask plenty of questions to get a feel for the type of services and care your chosen doulas will provide.
If you feel confused about the most critical questions for a doula, consider the following:
- What training and certifications do you have?
- Are you a certified lactation specialist?
- What types of postpartum doula packages do you offer?
- What do you think are the most vital postpartum doula benefits you can provide?
- Are you available for on-call hours, if needed?
- Do you have infant CPR training?
- Do you have experience helping individuals with postpartum depression and anxiety?
- What inspired you to become a postpartum doula?
So, Do You Need a Postpartum Doula?
Now that you’ve got your list of questions for a doula and understand the postpartum doula benefits you can receive, there’s only one thing left to decide.
Do you need to hire a postpartum doula for your family?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Just remember, that there’s no harm in asking for help. The postpartum period is challenging for every member of your family. Why not let a professional into your home who can help guide you through this new chapter in your life with ease?
Have you ever used a postpartum doula? What was your experience like?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.