What is a postpartum doula?
A doula is someone who provides practical and emotional support to the birthing woman or new mother and her family. Birth doulas offer this support prenatally to prepare for birth, and during labour and birth itself. Postpartum doulas do something different and maybe harder to understand - there's no big event like there is with birth. But as many new parents will tell you, so much of the preparation for life with a new baby focuses on birth, leaving them unprepared for the reality of life with a newborn - and the postpartum period lasts much longer than even the longest labour!
A postpartum doula can:
- help you make a plan for your postpartum period to ensure a smooth transition to life with the new baby
- provide physical comfort measures to help in your recovery from childbirth
- help you get breastfeeding off to a great start
- offer education about what is normal for both mom and baby in the early weeks
- support you, your partner if you have one, other children, and the rest of the family in bonding with the new baby
- help you get sleep and rest, and educate you on safe sleep options for your baby
- help you get the information you need to make informed choices about your care and your baby's care
- offer emotional support, encouragement, and non-judgemental presence
- provide practical support like help with older siblings, pets, and household chores
- and much more!
Postpartum doulas are not nannies, and work within a scope of practice that prevents them from offering medical advice, diagnosing medical conditions, providing medical care, making decisions for or speaking for clients, or transporting clients or their children.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Did you have a postpartum doula? Do you wish you had had one?