There are many types of support you can access during pregnancy and birth. From what kind of provider you’re going to go with (MD? DO? Midwife?) to if you’re going to utilize a doula or other type of birthing support service up to and when the big day arrives. A lot of people opt for a doula in addition to their own family or partner supports in the room during their birth.
But what about after?
In a previous post, we discussed the difference between a night nurse/night nanny and a Postpartum Doula, but why hire a Postpartum Doula at all?
What does a Postpartum Doula do?
Postpartum Doulas are more than just support for your baby. Postpartum Doulas provide a plethora of services for you and your whole family, which can include but are not limited to:
- In-Home Support for the Entire Family
- Newborn Care & Education
- Expertise When Working with Multiples & Preemies
- Nutrition & Wellness Guidance
- Meal Preparation
- Strong Emotional Support
- Sibling Care & Engagement
- Feeding Support
- Lactation education & support
- Overnight Services
- Referrals to Service Providers
- Relaxation Techniques
- Alternative Healing Practices
- Schedule Tracking
- Swaddle and Baby Wearing Techniques
- Breast Pump & Bottle Care
- Household Organizational Support
- Light Housekeeping & Errands
Of course, you want to speak to your doula about the specific services they offer on an individual basis, but the main goal of most Postpartum Doulas is to help the whole family adjust to their new addition through emotional, physical, and educational support through the fourth trimester.
What is the Fourth Trimester?
Babies spend three trimesters growing, developing, and preparing for life on the outside. However, studies show that the first 12-16 weeks outside of the womb are just as important as all of those weeks inside for development, growth, and overall health for you and your baby. Hence, the Fourth Trimester is a term that was created to highlight how important the first few weeks of life are.
Postpartum Doulas are doulas that specialize specifically in Fourth Trimester care, and help families starting after the birth of their new baby to support each member of the family as needed. Postpartum Doulas are focused on the whole family and how to best support them during the transition with a new baby.
How Does a Postpartum Doula Help the Whole Family?
Postpartum Doulas can help support the whole family in a number of ways. From helping siblings adjust to their new family member to running simple errands, providing nighttime support, or doing light household chores, Postpartum Doulas are a huge cog in a solid support system for you and your family. Not only do Postpartum Doulas offer great support in physical and emotional ways, as aforementioned, but they also offer newborn care education that comes from an unbiased, evidenced-based place and practice.
Make sure you discuss what your Postpartum Doula is willing to help with as far as family support services go. There are many different ways they can support all the members of your family!
What Can’t a Postpartum Doula Do?
A Postpartum Doula does not take the place of a medical professional, such as a doctor, midwife, or nurse. Postpartum doulas do not do wound care or diagnose medical conditions. However, most Postpartum Doulas are trained in being able to identify signs of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMAD), and will work with you and your medical provider to help get treatment as needed.
Postpartum Doulas are also trained and experienced in recognizing common infant health concerns, such as change in frequency or amount of feedings, change in skin color, coughing, diarrhea, or vomiting, and more. Postpartum doulas can also refer you and your baby to appropriate health care professionals in your area, if necessary.
Postpartum Doulas can utilize some alternative healing practices in tandem with your medical provider’s recommendations and treatments. Some doulas are trained and certified in utilizing herbs and supplements for your care, while others are certified in Reiki and other forms of energy work to draw from. Stretching, light exercise, breathing techniques – most Postpartum Doulas have a pretty deep toolbox full of techniques and strategies to use to help you and your family recover and adjust to your new life!
How Do I Get a Postpartum Doula?
First steps are to research who your local Postpartum Doulas are. A simple Google search will bring up Postpartum Doulas within your area, and it’s recommended to join and peruse your local Facebook groups to get first hand recommendations. Of course, you can always as your medical provider if they recommend anyone specific, as most have worked closely with Doulas in your area before. Then, start contacting Doulas that seem to match with what you’re looking for. Will you need help overnight so you can get some sleep? Will you need support with siblings or meal prep? Are you looking for support with breast/chestfeeding or pumping? There are many different services that Postpartum Doulas can provide – all you have to do is ask and find the best fit for you!
If you are interested in the Postpartum Doula services that we offer here at New Life Doulas, please make sure you contact us today! We’re ready to help and can’t wait to hear from you!