Family and friends are a huge resource for new moms, but sometimes what you really need is expert input — enter postpartum doulas.
You’re home with your little one — and a LOT of questions: Why does she cry? Will I be a good mom? What is that goo she keeps spitting up? Help! Perhaps it’s time for a postpartum doula!
What exactly is a postpartum doula? She’s a trained professional who supports both you and your family as they adjust to a new baby, typically for the first 12 weeks after delivery. She’s there to educate the family on caring for Baby, but she’s also there to look out for you, Mom, making sure that you’re rested, hydrated, fed, and feeling confident about your new role.
Katie Brenner, owner of Queen City Doulas, a new doula agency in Cincinnati, says, “Your doula will work with you as you establish your family’s routine, provide feeding education and support — whether by breast or by bottle — and provide hands-on education in newborn care, such as soothing baby, diapering and bathing.” Doulas also work with older siblings to help them adjust, and while many postpartum doulas offer light housekeeping and meal preparation, their main goal is to “help facilitate Mom’s recovery and your bonding as a family.” Brenner adds that doulas are also trained to recognize if something is abnormal and if necessary, can provide referrals to professionals like lactation consultants.
Molly Murray, a Cincinnati birth doula who offers postpartum services, has seen a rise in the use of postpartum doulas. She says, “While many families are surrounded by friends and family with great intentions, they’re normally without the freedom of time or special skills and understanding of the mother and family’s physical and emotional needs.” A postpartum doula is there for you and your baby, according to Murray. This makes for a whole host of benefits, including more time for bonding and rest, and most importantly, less stress, since a doula’s expert advice can put you at ease. “Postpartum doulas can take some of the guess work out of newborn care, while also opening up the doors for communication and connection with information and resources,” Murray adds.
What to look for in a doula?
Murray says to meet in person first. “Your postpartum doula is going to be spending a lot of time with you and your new (and most cherished) family members. It’s important that you like and trust [her].” In addition to certification and experience, Murray says to ask about availability. “Are they also on call as a birth doula or otherwise? What is their plan, should they not be able to make a shift?” She says that most doulas have back-up support, so this is someone you’ll want to meet as well.
Brenner suggests the following questions when meeting a doula:
- What kind of training have you had and how long have you been supporting families?
- What are your biggest assets that you bring to postpartum care?
- What is your parenting style or philosophy?
- How would you best describe how you support new moms and families?
- What has your experience been with supporting breast or bottle-feeding?
- Do you and your team/back-up have current CPR/First Aid training, and a criminal record check?
What about cost?
Fees for doulas can vary widely — some offer hourly rates, or like Queen City Doulas, packages that meet your specific needs. Some doulas offer payment plans as well, making it well worth the cost for Mom to get some rest, a little pampering, and best of all, time her with her precious gem.