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What if I told you there was a way to receive hands-on care for yourself, your newborn, and the rest of the family after childbirth? All it takes is answering a simple question: should you hire a postpartum doula?
The first days of new parenthood are a bittersweet blend of love, excitement, exhaustion, and often physical pain. While we’re thrilled to have a new, beautiful babe, the transition can feel like an upheaval.
From seemingly endless bouts of crying to the dread of postpartum poops, having a baby is not a f*cking walk in the park.
While we might assume that labor and delivery are the “challenging parts” of having a baby, our postpartum reality can be just as tricky. The combination of our physical and mental struggles alongside the sudden realization that we now have to take care of this tiny, helpless human can leave us, well, overwhelmed.
This is where finding someone to provide postpartum doula services comes in.
Postpartum doulas offer new moms the resources they need to feel empowered throughout the early days and weeks of their postpartum recovery. As you welcome this adorable new family member into your home, your doula can streamline the experience to make everyone feel more at ease.
Bringing in assistance after childbirth isn’t for everyone, though.
Read on if you’re wondering whether your family might benefit from hiring a postpartum doula after delivery. There are many things you need to know about the pros and cons of this opportunity.
What Services Does a Postpartum Doula Offer?
One of the things I love about postpartum doulas is how versatile their services are. Whether you’re hoping for someone to serve as a lactation consultant, a newborn care specialist, or even a placeholder while you take a shower, most doulas offer comprehensive options.
Often, post-childbirth doulas will offer various services, including:
- Care for Older Siblings
- Evidence-Based Information About Infant Care and Mom’s Recovery
- Nursing Support
- Care Tips for a Mom’s Postpartum Body
- Guidance in Overcoming Mental Health Issues, e.g., Postpartum Anxiety or Depression
- Assistance with Household Chores and Light Cleaning
- Running Errands
- Helping Create Bedtime Routines
- Establishing Sleep Schedules
- Meal Prep
Daytime Infant Care vs. Nighttime: Will One Person Do Both?
Usually, yes – but not always at the same time.
In answering the question, “Should you hire a postpartum doula?” You’ll want to think about what you need the most help with.
If establishing daytime routines, doing things around the house, and taking care of older kids are more important, then hiring a daytime doula is probably for you.
On the other hand, if you don’t function well without much sleep and are struggling to get your baby to bed at night, bringing someone in during the evenings might benefit your family.
Often, one postpartum doula will offer both types of services. However, you’re not likely to find someone willing to work 24 hours a day–that’s more of a nanny or au pair-style situation.
Many doulas will work 3-5 hour shifts, yet you will find some willing to provide a full-time schedule, around 40 hours a week.
Others might be willing to work 12-hour shifts a few times a week.
If you can find someone who provides longer shifts, you can discuss hybrid day/night care schedules. They could come earlier in the evening to provide some daytime assistance and stay through the early hours of the night so that you can get some quality rest.
Is a Doula the Same Thing as a Baby Nurse?
While doulas and baby nurses offer similar services, they aren’t the same.
A baby nurse’s role in your household is to care for your newborn or infant. A doula, on the other hand, will help look after mom and the rest of the family, too.
What Should You Look for When Picking a Doula?
Not just anyone can call themselves a doula.
Well, they could, but that doesn’t mean you should hire just anyone!
Instead, searching for someone who’s earned the proper certifications through the right channels would be best.
DONA International, for instance, offers quality education and training to individuals seeking to become either a birth or postpartum doula. When you’re in the market to pick a postpartum care professional, someone who’s earned their qualifications from an organization like this is often a good choice.
Another suggestion is to get referrals from friends, family, and healthcare professionals. Whether you used a traditional OB/GYN during pregnancy or a midwife, they will likely have suggestions for trustworthy doula services.
Looking for tips for hiring a doula? We love this list of questions to ask a potential doula before giving birth.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Doula After Childbirth?
As with most things, hiring a postpartum doula costs more in some areas than others. On average, you can expect to pay between $25 and $75 per hour.
When you find a doula you’re interested in working with, ask them about any discounts or package pricing they might offer. Some new mothers even include doula services on their baby registry checklist.
How Long Should You Utilize Postpartum Doula Services?
There’s no right or wrong amount of time to employ a doula after childbirth. Many families appreciate having extra care and assistance throughout the “fourth trimester,” a.k.a. the first 12 weeks after delivery.
Can Birth Doulas Help With the Transition After Delivery, Too?
While it’s common for a doula to specialize in either childbirth or postpartum care, some will provide services for both.
If you’d like to work with the same person during pregnancy, labor, and beyond, remember to ask what they offer during your initial consultations.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Hiring Doula Care for New Parents?
Working with a certified postpartum doula after childbirth might seem like a no-brainer, but there are a few disadvantages you should think about.
1. Doula Fees Can Be Pricey
There’s no denying the high costs that come with newborns. From hospital bills to baby formula, you have to pay a lot to have a baby.
That said, not every family has the budget to pay for doula services.
While extra help during your physical recovery after delivery is fantastic, it’s not a good choice when it burdens your family financially.
2. Partners Can Feel Left Out
Those early days of parenthood are usually a tag team effort between partners. While they can feel like complete chaos, they can also help us appreciate our loved ones even more.
However, when you hire a doula, it’s possible that you might rely on your partner less.
Since your postpartum doula will be there to help with everything from basic newborn care and light housekeeping, you could become more dependent on their time and attention than your partner’s. This could, in turn, leave your spouse feeling less involved and needed during the early days of parenthood.
It’s important to discuss this potential downside of hiring a postpartum doula with your partner before you hire one. That way, you can put a plan in place if your partner feels left out.
3. Post-Doula Days Might Seem Hard
No matter how much you love your doula, you can’t keep them forever.
Doula services are meant to be a temporary part of your parenting experience. Once the time comes to let them go, the transition into doing it on your own might feel taxing. You might struggle to create a good routine for yourself and your family.
If this is a concern for you, make sure to talk to your doula and partner about it. That way, you can structure a plan for when your doula’s time is up. Then, you and your family can work through the schedule they put in place on your own.
6 Benefits of Hiring a Postpartum Doula
While most things will have some disadvantages, cons usually come with pros, too! There are several great reasons the answer to the question, “Should you hire a postpartum doula?” is yes.
1. Emotional Support During the Postpartum Transition
My emotional state was a disaster during the first few weeks after I had our girls. I loved, I cried, I laughed, and I panicked. Every day was a kaleidoscope of feelings, and I never knew what was coming next.
While this might seem frustrating, it’s completely normal.
Emotional changes during the early days of parenting are par for the course. Between severe fatigue and hormonal shifts, it’s common to feel out of sorts.
When you work with a postpartum doula, they can help soften these feelings and nurture you during tough moments with your postpartum mood.
2. Expert Breastfeeding Guidance
Before I had babies, I never thought about breastfeeding as a skill we have to learn. I just figured that all of us naturally know how to do it.
1. Hold baby.
2. Put baby’s mouth to boob.
If only it were that simple!
After you have a new baby, it can take time to figure out the ins and outs of your breastfeeding relationship. When you hire a postpartum doula, they can help guide you through the process and offer support–particularly when you are tired and frustrated and the baby is screaming.
From teaching you about your pump to perfecting your latch, postpartum doulas can provide expert nursing advice to improve your chances of breastfeeding success.
3. Help Around the House
Finding time to clean the house can feel impossible when you’re healing from either a vaginal birth or c-section, taking care of a new baby, and running on minimal sleep.
Most postpartum doulas can help, though. Light housework is typically part of their services, whether you need them to wash dishes and/or your pump parts, vacuum the floors, or do a few loads of laundry.
4. Meal Prep for New Parents
Okay, you’ve spent the entire day caring for yourself and your newborn–now it’s time to make dinner!
No thank you.
If finding time to make a healthy meal for your family seems challenging, ask your postpartum doula to help. Most will either make dinner or do some meal prep to help make your evening routine smoother.
5. Basic Information on General Babycare
We’re not born knowing how to change diapers and put a baby down for naps–all these skills are learned behaviors. While taking a general parenting class before your baby arrives is always a good idea, postpartum doulas can also provide newborn care education, such as diapering, bathing, and soothing techniques.
6. Better Opportunities to Bond With Your Baby
One of the most significant benefits of hiring a postpartum doula is getting the chance to focus on your baby.
Instead of stressing about everything else going on around your house, doulas provide better opportunities for you to bond with your baby. You can feel confident that your older children and home are being cared for while you learn about the new addition to your family.
Bringing a postpartum doula into your home after childbirth isn’t for everyone, but there’s no denying the benefits they can provide.
It’s important to consider what you’ll want and need after delivery and determine whether these services will help you accomplish those things.
So, what do you think–should you hire a postpartum doula?
Postpartum Recovery Link Round-Up
Want to learn more about what to expect during your postpartum period? Take a look at these other great articles!
- Postpartum Must-Haves
- Incontinence After Pregnancy
- What to Wear After Giving Birth
- Signs of Postpartum Anxiety
- Postpartum Compression
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.