What is a Postpartum Doula?

A postpartum doula is a trained professional who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to families with newborns after birth, typically for the first six weeks postpartum, but sometimes up to a year.

  • The term “postpartum” means the time following the birth of a baby.
  • Doula comes from the Greek word meaning “a serving woman.” A doula is a trained professional who provides support and guidance to another person such as a pregnant woman.

Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming, both emotionally and physically. While many parents-to-be may seek the support of a birth doula during labor and delivery, fewer are aware of the benefits of having a postpartum doula during the early weeks and months after birth.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what a postpartum doula is and the benefits and responsibilities of having one.

postpartum doula with newborn baby

What are the Benefits of Having a Postpartum Doula?

Improved recovery time: Doulas can prepare healthy meals for the family and also educate them on healthy nutrition for optimal healing and recovery.

Increased bonding with the baby: The role of the postpartum doula is to take care of chores like laundry, sweeping, and running errands, which allows the parent to focus on bonding with their newborn and spending quality time with their other family members.

Reduced parental stress: New parents may experience stress as they learn how to care for their baby and adapt to their new role as a parent. A postpartum doula is there to listen and provide reassurance, decrease their stress levels, support in establishing routines, and help identify any postpartum mood disorders.

Smoother transition into parenthood: With the support of a postpartum doula, new parents can be more prepared for taking care of their newborn baby, have better communication with their partner, and co-parent, and have more confidence in their parenting abilities, leading to easier transition into parenthood.

A postpartum doula can offer breastfeeding support, helping new moms understand proper techniques and providing tips to improve lactation. They also provide newborn care support such as diapering, dressing, bathing, and comforting techniques for the baby. If you require this type of support at nighttime, then you can hire Night Doulas.

Another type of doula who can help you postpartum is an Ayurvedic Doula. Read more about them here.

Difference Between Birth Doula and Postpartum Doula

While both types of doulas are trained and certified to provide emotional, physical, and informational support to mothers during childbirth, their roles after birth differ.

  • A birth doula provides support during labor and delivery and usually leaves soon after the baby is born. A postpartum doula stays with the family for an extended period of time and may provide support for up to a year after the baby is born.
  • A postpartum doula focuses on parenting education, infant care, lactation support, and emotional support while a birth doula provides more physical support during labor such as breathing techniques, massage, and positioning.

Difference Between Antepartum Doula and Postpartum Doula

Both antepartum and postpartum doulas provide support, but their roles differ. Antepartum doulas support women during pregnancy and prepare them for childbirth, while postpartum doulas support women after childbirth with tasks like breastfeeding, infant care, and postpartum recovery.

Also Read: Different Types of Doulas

Limitations of a Postpartum Doula

While it is highly beneficial to the mother and family to have a postpartum doula, there are also  limitations on the support they can provide.

  • Postpartum doulas are not medical professionals and thus, cannot provide any medical advice or treatments.
  • They are also limited in their ability to help with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that may arise after childbirth.
  • Postpartum doulas do not provide childcare services, so they will not be able to watch the baby while the parents are away. It is important for parents to understand that postpartum doulas provide support, but cannot take care of all their needs.

Postpartum Doula Training

To become a postpartum doula, a person needs to have specialized training. There are various certifying organizations that offer comprehensive and rigorous postpartum doula training programs.

Some of the topics covered in these courses typically include (but not limited to):

  • in-depth study of topics such as maternal health and wellbeing
  • breastfeeding
  • Infant care and safety
  • family dynamics
  • emotional support
  • sleep coaching

Completion of a postpartum doula program is mandatory for certification and must include hands-on experience with clients. Upon completion, a trainee will receive an official certification from their chosen organization. This is proof that they are qualified to provide postpartum support services professionally.

Postpartum Doula Employment Contract

A postpartum doula is typically hired on a contractual basis. There is an employment contract that outlines the details of the services to be provided, including the scope of work, fees, and duration of service.

Both the doula and the family must review this document carefully before signing it. A well-written contract will help ensure expectations are properly communicated and understood by all parties involved.

The agreement should also include information about any other duties or responsibilities that may fall within the scope of their service as well as any provisions related to health safety, confidentiality, and compensation. This document can serve as a reference should any disputes arise in the future.

Also Read: Birth Doula Contract Template Sample

Video: What Does a Postpartum Doula Do?

Did you know that doulas are also available to work with families after the birth of a baby? In addition to assisting during birth, postpartum doulas can provide valuable support to new parents. Check out this video to learn more about how a postpartum doula can help.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the typical cost of a postpartum doula?

Postpartum doula costs can range from $25 to $85 per hour, depending on the region, experience, qualifications, and types of services provided.

2. When should I hire a postpartum doula?

It is best to hire a postpartum doula before the baby arrives, so they can help you prepare for your new arrival and offer support during those early weeks of adjusting to life with a newborn. However, you can still benefit from hiring a postpartum doula even if your baby has already arrived.

3. How long should I have a postpartum doula?

The length of time you use a postpartum doula can vary depending on your needs. Some families may hire one for only a few days or weeks, while others may need longer-term support over the course of several months.

It is best to discuss your specific requirements with your chosen doula in advance so that you can agree upon a timeline that meets your needs.

Final Thoughts

Having a postpartum doula can be invaluable for new parents. A professional who is knowledgeable and experienced in the postpartum period can provide invaluable advice and emotional support, as well as help with breastfeeding, infant care, and transitioning into parenthood.

While there are many important factors to consider when looking for a postpartum doula, such as qualifications, experience, and cost, ultimately the key thing is finding someone who is a good fit for you and your family. With proper research and planning, you can find the right postpartum doula to help you through this special time in your life. Good luck!


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