Birth Doulas are becoming more and more popular... though many misconceptions still surround the understanding of what exactly a birth doula does, most people have some idea that a doula supports you during labor.
What about postpartum doulas though?
What is a postpartum doula? What is the difference between a postpartum doula and a nanny, night nurse, etc.? Should you hire a postpartum doula? Are they *really* necessary?
Let's start with "What is a postpartum doula?"
A postpartum doula is an experienced and knowledgable expert who supports new families after the birth of their baby. The transitional postpartum period is rough and requires support. Unfortunately in our modern American society, mothers are all too often forgotten about after they are discharged from the hospital.
Who is helping them rest?
Who is helping them breastfeed?
Who is helping them navigate normal newborn behavior?
Who is helping them learn to provide newborn care?
Who is helping them recover... physically and emotionally?
Who is simply listening and supporting instead of directing and taking over?
Many families do have a parent or sibling come help out when the baby arrives. But sometimes this support isn't exactly what the new mother needs. Sometimes that support needs support. What about when that support eventually leaves and the new mom is all on her own and still not quite confident in her new role, not quite healed enough to feel confident, or still just needs an extra set of hands?
This is when a postpartum doula comes in.
Families who enlist the support and expertise of a postpartum doula are more likely to have an easier transition to new parenthood. The doula will help educate them on normal newborn behaviors, provide practical breastfeeding support, household support, emotional support, physical support, and reduce the stress of the postpartum chaos. While many duties of a postpartum doula overlap with those of a nanny, night nurse, friend, and even housekeeper, Postpartum Doulas are trained in providing the perfect balance of mother-centered support. Postpartum Doulas know how to tailor their care to the family's specific needs. Furthermore, postpartum doulas have an intimate understanding of how birth, breastfeeding, and the fourth trimester are all connected. This understanding and expertise makes it possible for the postpartum doula to provide comprehensive, skilled, education and support unique to each mother and baby dyad.
Next question: Are they *really* necessary?
Maybe. Maybe not. Probably.
The support provided by a postpartum doula is absolutely, 100% essential to the healing mother's postpartum experience. Mothers with support in the first 6 weeks postpartum are more likely to adjust and heal well because they are emotionally cared for, physically rest their bodies, and are supported nutritionally. These mothers have the support necessary to heal well without over-doing it.
But is this kind of support available in your network? Will your friends and family rally around you to provide unconditional, continuous, respectful support so you can heal? Unfortunately I can expect your answer is probably, "I wish...but no. It's just not possible. My mom has a job. My sister has her own kids. My friends have their own life."
Final Question: Should you hire a postpartum doula?
This really depends on the resource and support network that you have available to you... but I believe deep in my heart that all new mothers deserve a postpartum doula.... another woman who is there to serve her and support her.
Are you prepared to be alone with the baby after your husband returns to work? Do you need support breastfeeding? Are you trying to navigate conflicting parenting advice? Do you have older children and just know you won't be able to rest your body the way you need to? Will you be able to focus on bonding with your new baby? Are you worried about the emotional ups and downs that accompany post birth transitions and adjustments?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should probably send me an email right now to see how I can support you after your baby arrives...
Jaimie is a proud mother and wife living in Pemberton, New Jersey. Jaimie serves the South Jersey, Central Jersey, and Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst communities providing private prenatal breastfeeding classes, birth preparation, labor doula services, postpartum doula services, location support, and motherhood photography. Jaimie is a former nurse turned Certified Breastfeeding Specialist through Lactation Education Resources and Doula trained with the Madriella Network. In the future Jaimie hopes to add childbirth education, placenta encapsulation, and more to her service list.
Postpartum Doulas in South Jersey, Military Doula, Air Force Doula, Lactation Support, Breastfeeding Specialist, Birth Doula, Labor Support