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You plan for the big event—childbirth—while also daydreaming about life with your baby and researching items for your registry. You may or may not be surprised by how mentally and physically exhausted you are after working long and hard at keeping the little human safe and sound.
Postpartum doulas can help you get through the difficult postpartum recovery period. Learn more about what a postpartum doula does, the advantages of this kind of service, and how to locate one in your area in the following blog.
So What is a Postpartum Doula?
The postpartum period is a significant time of transition for you, your body, and, well, your entire family, regardless of whether this is your first or sixth child. This timeframe is in many cases called the fourth trimester and for a good reason!
Postpartum doulas can, at their most fundamental level, offer support and information about infant feeding practices, such as breastfeeding, as well as strategies for calming your newborn and coping with all the new responsibilities of parenthood.
While a birth doula offers help during birth, a postpartum doula offers non-clinical help while recovering from childbirth. This support is informational as well as emotional and physical. Additionally, despite the fact that the doula assists with infant care, her primary concern is the mother and her family. The term “mothering the mother” is used by the International Childbirth Education Association to describe the role.
One of the many services that a postpartum doula might offer is placenta encapsulation. Other kinds of support include
- Doing light housework like cleaning, tidying, and so on
- Making meals
- Providing evidence-based information on all things newborn/postpartum
- Encouraging self-care
- Advocating for the mother
- Assisting siblings in adjusting
- Recommending additional support for all things baby/mom
Certifications for Postpartum Doulas
After the birth of a child, postpartum doulas provide the new family with emotional, physical, and evidence-based informational support, not just the postpartum recovery. Doulas help the mother recover, teach her how to feed and care for her baby and help organize the house. They work in the community in a variety of settings, including private practice, cooperatives, organizations, and community programs. Here’s a list of top online institutions that offer certified courses for postpartum doulas:
- DONA International
- Birth Bliss Academy
- ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association)
- Childbirth International
How Much Will a Postpartum Doula Cost You?
The exact cost of postpartum doula services is dependent on your location and the services you want. According to the International Doula Institute, the majority of doulas charge between $25 and $35 per hour in smaller cities and $35 to $65 per hour in larger ones.
According to DONA International, some doulas work for agencies while others are hired directly by parents. The amount of time spent and the time of day (full-time or part-time) will determine how much your doula will charge.
Ask about insurance programs or sliding scale options if you’re worried about costs. Doula services are available to some people through grants and community organizations too.
Advantages of Having a Postpartum Doula By Your Side
There are several other advantages to working with a postpartum doula, including the ability to foster connection during a time in life that can be quite isolating.
There is at least one case study that examined the positive effects of a community postpartum doula program on breastfeeding. According to another study, women who received doula support before and after giving birth were more likely to breastfeed, at least initially.
Even though more research is needed, there is evidence that mothers who work with postpartum doulas are more satisfied with their breastfeeding experience and may even continue feeding for a longer period.
One in eight new mothers experiences postpartum depression. Examples of risk factors include having:
- A history of depression or postpartum depression
- Excessive stress in your life
- Insufficient support from others
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Having multiple or twin pregnancies or a child with special needs
A postpartum doula is an essential member of your support team because she can alleviate some of your stress and give you additional power. A postpartum doula can also spot early depression symptoms and provide resources to get you the help you need as soon as possible.
Postpartum doula care has even more advantages. They incorporate things like having the option to siphon more milk coming about because of higher oxytocin levels (an advantage of having an emotionally supportive network). It’s possible that mothers feel more at ease with their skills and instincts. They also help dads take care of their infant and their partner. Doula support may help families understand the new baby’s communication and need better, which may result in less crying.
What Distinguishes a Postpartum Doula from a Baby Nurse?
During the postpartum period, baby nurses provide in-home care for newborn babies. They may be laypeople or licensed nurses. Some even work with special-needs babies. Regardless, the primary objective of a baby nurse is to meet the needs of the infant.
On the other hand, postpartum doulas primarily focus on the mother, her partner, and the entire family. While doulas do provide care for babies, their primary objective is to support the mother’s emotions and provide parents with specialized knowledge and infant education.
It just depends on what kind of support you require—both roles are crucial.
How Can You Track Down a Postpartum Doula?
A doula or doula service in your area might be known to you by your friends, family, or doctor/midwife. Additionally, there are numerous online resources for doulas of all kinds.
You could look at the websites of associations like DONA International, the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), and the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA)
Tips for The Interview
When interviewing potential postpartum doulas, think about asking:
- Why do you enjoy working as a postpartum doula?
- What kinds of postpartum services do you offer?
- How will you help my partner/family in the post-pregnancy period?
- Are you free around the time that I am expected?
- What are the services included in your price? What extra services are there?
- Do you have any training or experience in postpartum mental health?
- What kind of experience do you have with breastfeeding?
- Are there any restrictions that I should be aware of?
Do not be compelled to work with the first doula you meet. Think about the answers to the questions and how confident the person looks. Even though it seems a little woo-woo, consider how you and your partner feel as well. It is a good sign that you have found the one if you experience any sense of connection, non-judgment, or excitement.
The Bottom Line?
A postpartum doula can be an invaluable resource, a lifesaver. Be sure to plan for the support you’ll need as you adjust to motherhood, no matter which path you choose. Bringing a new baby home means adjusting routines, dividing time, and just trying to figure out how to juggle everything, even for the most experienced parents. This is where a postpartum doula can be of assistance. A postpartum doula can help you recover if you had a cesarean or other complication during your pregnancy. For more help, refer to the American Pregnancy Association.