Postpartum Doula – Importance and Role
Childbirth is not easy, and a new mother may feel exhausted both physically and mentally after labour. Taking care of the newborn could equally be tiring for her, especially in the initial days. This is when a postpartum doula can be of great help. If you’re a new parent and need help with taking care of your baby, learn more about postpartum doula so that you can decide if you should hire one.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
A postpartum doula is a certified professional who stays with the family of new parents, after the birth of a child and takes care of the baby, mother as well as family. Doulas can be of two types: birth doulas, who help before and during the birth, and postpartum doulas, who help after childbirth. Although a doula takes care of the baby and other baby-related tasks, their main attention is taking care of the mothers. This is why it’s said that they help in ‘mothering the mother’.
Benefits of Having a Postpartum Doula
Since the birth of a child is a new experience to a mother also, a postpartum doula helps a family in many ways:
1. Physical Support
A postpartum doula is professionally trained in handling a baby, and therefore, they know all the pressure points as well as are very effective in managing the positioning of the baby and management. They also help provide the position ideas for mothers to gain comfort and help guide the proper breathing techniques and yoga positions suitable for mothers after birth. They also help in doing little chores for the family, giving time of rest to the mothers.
2. Emotional Support
A postpartum doula, apart from providing physical support, provides emotional support as well. Since the transition of every mother is different, the postpartum doula support and ease the stress and emotional experience of birth for each individual in a very effective way, they help in nurturing the needs of the mother as well as baby and helps in the adjustment of the family with the child.
3. Mental Support
Some new mothers are likely to suffer from mental stress and postpartum depression. After birth, the postpartum doula provides mental support to the parents and helps them with stress relief and boosting the mother’s confidence. They can also help detect the early signs of depression and help you find the proper solution for it.
4. Informational Support
As postpartum doulas are trained professionals, they have knowledge related to taking care of a child. They take care of the mother and the child and provide all the supportive information related to the care of the child after birth. They support the family like their mother or grandmother would have done. They take care of every detail and help the mother understand her child’s details that she might not know of.
They also add as an advocate between the family and the child’s doctor, thus, giving the best suggestions for the baby’s safety and health.
They help provide the proper breastfeeding techniques to the mother, helping them gain satisfaction with the breastfeeding process.
They also provide other benefits like increasing the satisfaction and confidence of the parents, teaching the father and family the handling skills, as well as communicating better with the child to help the parents understand their child’s needs better and effectively.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Postnatal Doula
On a primary term, the role and responsibility of the postnatal doula are to take care of the baby as well as the family after the birth of a child, but in more specific terms, the role and responsibilities include:
- Doing light housework like vacuuming, making meals, cleaning, etc.
- Advocating between the mother and the doctor regarding the children.
- Providing mental support and emotional support to the mother and family.
- Helping the family and siblings adjust to the newborn.
- Providing evidence-based information to the family of the newborn.
- Supporting the mother in the process of breastfeeding and other infant practices.
- Taking intense care of the mother and the baby.
- They help the other family members with learning important skills regarding baby handling.
- Helping mothers understand the baby’s needs and cater to them.
- They also help you in your recovery after birth in the fourth trimester.
Postpartum Doula Cost
The charges for postpartum doula depend on two factors; one is the area or place you live in, and another one is the amount of time they provide the service. Some Doulas works overnight, while some offer the service on weekends. The charges for that vary accordingly.
Generally, the doulas charge between $25-$35 per hour in smaller cities, while in larger cities, they charge between $30-$55 per hour. Some also offer discounts for a particular number of hours, or if they are newly trained. If you are concerned about the cost of the doulas, you can also consider some third-party insurance programs as well. There are some grants or community organizations also that help with the doula’s services.
How Postpartum Doula is Different From a Baby Nurse?
A baby nurse is a special nurse appointed for a newborn’s medical care during the postpartum period. They help in taking care of the baby and may also be appointed for a baby with special needs. Unlike a baby nurse, whose sole focus is to provide for a newborn’s care, the postpartum doula is responsible for taking care of the whole family along with the child. Their most important role is to provide care to the mother and are appointed for providing non-medical care and support. They also provide emotional, mental support to the family, unlike the baby nurse who only takes care of the child.
How to Find a Postpartum Doula
To find a doula, you can ask your acquaintances around to know about the doulas present in your area. Also, you can get the information about the doulas online also. There are several websites also that you can refer to for finding the doulas like:
- DONA International: www.dona.org
- Doula Trainings International (DTI): www.doulatrainingsinternational.com/
- International Center for Traditional Childbearing: www.ictcmidwives.org
- Childbirth International: www.childbirthinternational.com
- Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA): https://cappa.net/
Postpartum Doula Interview Questions
If you are planning to take the help of a postpartum doula during your postpartum period, it might be useful to ask some basic yet important questions before considering her. The list of interview questions that will be helpful in selecting a doula is given below.
- What do you like the most about being a postpartum doula?
- Are you a certified postpartum doula?
- What are the services you provide during the postpartum period?
- Will you be able to handle my other child as well during the period?
- Will you be fine with the full-day/half-day/night shift (as required)?
- Will you be available throughout the postpartum period? (You can also ask for specific dates or months.)
- Do you have any previous experiences, or are you a newly trained doula?
- What will be the charges for the services? And what services will be included in it?
- Have you had training or experience in postpartum mental health?
- Will you be able to manage if there are some changes in the shifts or any additional support is needed?
- Is there anything about you that we should know about?
A postpartum doula can be of great help to you in your fourth trimester period. But it is your decision whether or not you want the help of a postpartum doula. It is not necessary for everyone to have a doula for them or their child, but it is better to have a professional expert with you who can guide you to the process after birth as well. It is not needed that you seek support every day; there are some families who require the help of doulas 2-3 days a week, while there are some who require constant support throughout. Since your primary focus will be your health and your baby’s too, you can choose what is best for you. And whether or not you decide to have a postpartum doula, you must have people who love you and can help you with taking care of your little one because as a new mother, you can use all the help you get!
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