Little babies are something I’ve always loved. I love the smell of them, their warmth and the way they are able to drift off to sleep regardless of what’s going on around them. I was a nanny for many children in college, graduate school, as well as during career transitions. Most of them were between 4 and 3 months old when I began caring for them. As a nanny, I wasn’t only there to care for the children but also provided emotional support to the mother. I was there to support parents as they transitioned into parenthood. This included helping them navigate the complexities of returning to work after having children.
My sisters had their own children over the years and I was again able to help new parents. It felt more personal than ever. After becoming a nanny and aunt, I discovered the importance of postpartum doulas and decided to pursue a career as one. Although I did my research on the training and what it meant, I was unable to afford it. I continued my education in graduate school in mental healthcare counseling, and I worked towards getting my license. I made the decision to become a doula postpartum in March 2019.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
You are not the only one who is unfamiliar with the idea of a postpartum support worker. People are only just starting to talk about postpartum doulas, and the work we do. Doula is a Greek term that means one who serves. Historically, the term “doula” was used to describe a support person who helped friends and families during labor. Many people today work as birth doulas, helping clients through labor and birth. Some people can be both a birth and postpartum doula.
Costs and services of a postpartum doula
DONA International defines the three types of work that a doula does as a postpartum doula: informational, practical and emotional. Practical work involves helping to prepare meals for the family and preparing snacks for evening feedings. This can include light housecleaning and time spent with a sibling while the baby and parents nap. It is important to discuss with your family how things will be once the doula has left (who will cook, who will grocery shop, etc). It is important for the family’s to feel empowered after the postpartum doula goes.
The Postpartum Doula vs. the Baby Nurse
A postpartum doula does not work as a babysitter, nanny or baby nurse. A baby nurse is a professional who assists parents with their childcare needs throughout the night. However, the postpartum doula’s role is to help parents balance their lives with the new addition.
A baby nurse will provide childcare while a doula for postpartum mothers is available to help parents with information and support. Postpartum doulas may work overnight, just like a night nurse, but the emphasis is on teaching parents how they can manage the times the doula cannot be there.
Postpartum Doula Training
Although there are many certifying agencies, I was certified through DONA International. The training is three days long and covers everything related to infant and newborn care, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, family dynamics, as well as both mental and physical health warning signs. Doulas will be able to start working with families after the weekend training. They will need to work with three families in order for them to earn recommendation letters and get certified.
Doulas receive a list of books to help them with the certification process. This includes topics such as family bonding, attachment, newborn care and development, and how doulas can support families. To be certified, doulas must also complete a breastfeeding course. A comprehensive local resource list must be created by postpartum doulas in order to be able to assist clients with any other needs.
Do you know who should hire a postpartum doula?
I believe that any person who has recently welcomed a baby to their family can benefit greatly from the help of a doula postpartum. It can be difficult to adjust to a new baby in your family. This is a time when routines are being broken down and new ones begin to emerge. It can be very daunting for those who aren’t prepared. Even if you believe you are ready, it can feel overwhelming. It is helpful to have someone to help you navigate this transition.
Find a Doula for Postpartum in Your Area
The postpartum period can be chaotic and confusing for parents. However, it is also a time when there are joy and love. A postpartum doula’s job is to help parents make the transition easier so they can get to know their new partner. Doula Match is a great resource for finding doulas and doula services near you.