What is a Sibling Doula?

A sibling doula is a unique blend of a traditional doula and a child specialist, specifically trained to assist families with older children during the birth process. This specialized doula works closely with the family before, during, and after the birth, focusing on the needs and emotions of the older siblings as they welcome a new baby into their lives.

Involving a sibling doula in the birth process comes with numerous benefits for the entire family. Older siblings are more likely to feel included and valued, leading to a smoother transition as they adjust to their new role. Parents can experience reduced stress, knowing that their older children are being cared for and supported during this pivotal time.

Ultimately, a sibling doula can help to create an atmosphere of love, unity, and connection, laying the foundation for a happy and harmonious family dynamic as they welcome their newest member.

sibling doula

Roles and Responsibilities of a Sibling Doula

  • Provide Emotional Support: One of the primary roles of a sibling doula is to provide emotional support for the family. They must make the siblings feel comfortable, answer their questions, and be available as a resource throughout the process.
  • Educate Siblings: A sibling doula must provide information to siblings regarding what to expect during the birth process. They must also reassure the children, help them understand what is happening, and offer strategies to cope with the stressful environment.
  • Assist the family in practical care: A sibling doula can help the family prepare for the new baby’s arrival by setting up baby items, preparing meals, or organizing closets.
  • Be a resource for parents: Sibling doulas act as a valuable resource for parents, offering guidance on how to involve older siblings in the pregnancy and birth process. They can suggest age-appropriate activities, answer questions about sibling relationships, and help parents develop strategies to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all family members.
  • Prepare Siblings for Birth: Sibling doulas can organize and conduct prenatal visits with the family, focusing on preparing the older siblings for the arrival of their new brother or sister. This includes discussing the birthing process, addressing any concerns or fears, and providing practical tips on how to support the birthing parent during labor and delivery.
  • Offer Labor Support for Siblings: During labor and delivery, sibling doulas are responsible for providing care and reassurance for the older siblings. This may include keeping them engaged with age-appropriate activities, explaining the labor process in real-time, and ensuring they feel comfortable and secure throughout the experience.
  • Facilitate Sibling Involvement: Sibling doulas play a crucial role in encouraging older siblings to participate in the postpartum period. They can help create opportunities for bonding with the newborn, such as assisting with diaper changes, holding the baby, or reading stories together.
  • Provide Postpartum Support: After the baby’s arrival, sibling doulas continue to offer support to the family, focusing on the older siblings’ adjustment to their new role. They can help address any feelings of jealousy, confusion, or anxiety, and facilitate open communication within the family.
  • Assist with Sibling Transition: Sibling doulas must be prepared to help older siblings navigate the transition of becoming an older sibling. This may involve working with parents to establish new routines, set boundaries, and create a sense of stability during this time of change.
  • Collaborate with Other Professionals: Sibling doulas should maintain open communication and collaboration with other professionals involved in the family’s care, such as pediatricians, obstetricians, or therapists. This ensures a comprehensive support network for the family and allows the sibling doula to provide the best possible care.

Benefits Of Having a Sibling Doula

Below are key benefits of having a sibling doula during pregnancy and maternity:

  • Reduced Parental Stress: With a sibling doula’s support, parents can focus on their own physical and emotional well-being during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum recovery, knowing that their older children are being cared for and supported. This reduced stress can lead to a more positive birth experience and better overall family adjustment.
  • Age-Appropriate Education: Sibling doulas offer age-appropriate explanations about pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care, helping older siblings understand what to expect throughout the process. This knowledge can empower children and reduce feelings of uncertainty or confusion.
  • Increased Involvement and Bonding: By involving older siblings in prenatal appointments, birth planning, and postpartum care, sibling doulas encourage a sense of responsibility and connection between siblings. This involvement can foster a strong bond between the new baby and their older siblings from the very beginning.
  • Enhanced Family Dynamics: The presence of a sibling doula can help to create an atmosphere of love, unity, and connection within the family unit. By addressing the unique needs of each family member, sibling doulas contribute to a harmonious and supportive environment as they welcome their newest member.

Sibling Doula vs Nanny

A sibling doula is a specialized professional trained to support families with older children during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. They focus on the emotional, educational, and practical needs of older siblings as they adjust to the arrival of a new baby.

Sibling doulas provide tailored emotional support, age-appropriate education about pregnancy and childbirth, and practical assistance in preparing for the new arrival.

On the other hand, a nanny is a childcare professional responsible for providing consistent, long-term care for children in the family home. Nannies typically have a broader scope of responsibilities, including daily care, meal preparation, transportation to activities, and facilitating children’s development through play and learning opportunities.

When to Choose a Sibling Doula or Nanny

Whether to hire a sibling doula or nanny depends on the family’s needs. Here are some important points to consider when deciding between hiring a sibling doula or a nanny:

  • Family Dynamics and Values: If your family values a strong bond between siblings and seeks support specifically during the pregnancy and postpartum period, a sibling doula may be the better choice. Alternatively, if your primary concern is consistent, long-term childcare, a nanny would be more appropriate.
  • Children’s Ages and Needs: A sibling doula may be particularly beneficial for families with young children who require additional support and guidance in understanding and adjusting to the new baby. In contrast, a nanny is often better suited for families with children who need ongoing care and supervision, regardless of a new sibling’s arrival.
  • Parental Goals: If your goal is to involve older siblings in the birth process and facilitate a smooth transition during the postpartum period, a sibling doula can provide specialized support. However, if you require long-term assistance with childcare tasks and household management, a nanny would be the more fitting option.

Limitations of a Sibling Doula

While having a sibling doula can provide numerous benefits for families during the birth process, there are some limitations to consider. It is essential to consider the limitations and ensure that you have realistic expectations.

  • Scope of Practice: A sibling doula is not a medical professional and cannot perform clinical tasks, such as administering medications or providing medical advice. Their role is limited to providing emotional and practical support for siblings and parents.
  • Sibling Resistance: Some siblings may be resistant to the idea of having a sibling doula, especially if they perceive the doula as a stranger or intruder in their family dynamic. This resistance may require additional time and effort to build trust and rapport.
  • Cultural Differences: A sibling doula may not always be familiar with the cultural practices or traditions of the family they are working with. This lack of understanding could lead to misunderstandings or a feeling of disconnect between the doula and the family.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Sibling Doula

When hiring a sibling doula, the most basic things to consider are the doula’s cost, experience, availability, fees and payment structure.

Other factors to look into are the following:

  • Certification and Training: Choose a sibling doula with specialized training and certification from reputable organizations. Although training is not required, having a doula who has completed advanced education in childbirth, postpartum support, and baby care will best serve your needs.
  • Compatibility: Find a sibling doula whose approach and personality align with your family’s values and preferences, ensuring trust and rapport.
  • References: Request references from previous clients to gauge the sibling doula’s reliability, effectiveness, and overall satisfaction with their services.
  • Services Offered: Clearly outline your expectations and discuss the services provided by the sibling doula, such as prenatal visits, labor support, postpartum assistance, and sibling adjustment guidance.
  • Backup Plan: Inquire about the sibling doula’s backup plan in case of illness, personal emergencies, or scheduling conflicts.
  • Collaboration with Other Professionals: Ensure the sibling doula is willing to collaborate with other professionals involved in your family’s care, such as obstetricians, midwives, and pediatricians.

Want to take a look at a Postpartum Doula Contract? Find out the importance of having a contract and what it should include to avoid any misunderstandings in the future. 

Sibling Doula Training

Although there isn’t a specific certification for sibling doulas, their title emphasizes the on-call and birth-related nature of their support, setting them apart from typical childcare providers.

It’s crucial for those offering support during birth, particularly at out-of-hospital births, to have a solid understanding of normal birth physiology. This knowledge enables them to provide adequate assistance to families during this critical period.

Many of those who want to become a sibling doula also complete a birth or postpartum doula training. This is because:

  • Such training can add to the doula’s understanding of birth and postpartum care.
  • The doula’s training background give parents greater confidence that their doula is skilled and capable of providing the support the entire family needs.

Have you heard about Night Doulas? They are trained professionals who come and take care of your newborn at nighttime so you and your partner can get your much needed rest. Read more about Night Doulas here.

Video: What is a Sibling Doula?

In this video, Sibling Doula Abbey Barnosky explains the basics of what a sibling doula does. She speaks about how she works with families in the prenatal period to help prepare siblings for the arrival of a new baby and how she supports them during labor and delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the cost of hiring a sibling doula?

The cost of hiring a sibling doula may vary depending on the level of experience, location and services provided. Generally, experienced professionals usually charge around $25-$50 an hour for their service. It’s best to contact potential doulas directly for more information about their rates.

2. Should I hire a sibling doula or a nanny?

When deciding between a sibling doula or a nanny, consider the following:

  • Assess your family’s priorities, values, and goals.
  • Evaluate the age and specific needs of your older children.
  • Determine your desired level of involvement for older siblings in the pregnancy and birth process.
  • Consider the length of time you require professional support.
  • Research potential caregivers’ qualifications, experience, and compatibility with your family.

3. How do I find a sibling doula near me?

You can find a qualified sibling doula near you by searching online for “sibling doula” or “birth doula,” and then narrowing down your search based on location. You can also ask friends, family, or other parents in your area for recommendations.

Once you’ve narrowed down the list of potential providers, it’s helpful to do a background check, schedule an in-person interview, and read reviews of their services.

4. Will my insurance cover the cost of a sibling doula?

Insurance coverage for sibling doulas is not common, but some policies may offer partial reimbursement or cover the cost of certain services. It’s important to check with your insurance provider to determine what coverage, if any, is available.

5. Can a sibling doula work alongside my birth doula or postpartum doula?

Yes, sibling doulas can work in conjunction with birth and postpartum doulas to provide comprehensive support for the entire family. This collaboration ensures that both the birthing parent and siblings receive the care and attention they need during this significant life event.

Final Thoughts

Hiring a sibling doula can provide families with the comfort and assurance that their older children’s needs are being addressed during an important time. They offer an additional layer of support to help ensure your entire family feels informed, connected, and at ease throughout the entire process.

When searching for a sibling doula, be sure to look for someone who is experienced, qualified and sensitive to the needs of your family.


















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