Some of you may be saying to yourself after reading that headline, I’ve never even heard of a postpartum doula before. I personally wish I would have known more about postpartum doulas when I was early momming because they are such a valuable asset during the postpartum period for both first-time mamas and mamas who are adding to their family. Let me tell you about the magic of a postpartum doula.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
A postpartum doula provides nurturing, non-biased emotional support, guidance and practical assistance to you and your family during the postpartum period; what is often called the “4th Trimester.” This is a very memorable time in the lives of new families, and extra care and support can help to make this transition smoother. Postpartum doulas can help to strengthen a mom and family’s ability to trust their intuition and make choices that feel right to them.
What Do Postpartum Doulas Offer After the Birth?
I like to say that postpartum doulas are like a BFF or family member that you love but without the judgment, opinions, etc. They can be like a sister or friend who loves on you, listens to you, makes you food, sits and hugs you, but without any of the normal stuff that comes sometimes with even the most well-intentioned friends and family.
Evidence-based Information and Support:
Postpartum doulas have been trained to understand what new babies and new mamas need. They are trained to provide information from soothing techniques to swaddling, to breastfeeding or bottle-feeding support, and any other needs you may have. They can also provide other resources and references as needed beyond their skills or experience.
Practical Hands-On Support:
When that sweet new baby (or babies) joins your family, the more hands to help the better. One of my favorite things to do as a postpartum doula was to help tidy up with light housekeeping such as folding laundry, making yummy food for Mama and family and doing the dishes.
Partner and Sibling Support:
Bringing a new baby home when you already have children adds a whole new element to early momming. Postpartum doulas can spend time with the newborn while you spend time with big brother(s) or sister(s). Or they can spend some time with them while you snooze with your newbie. In addition, it’s a postpartum doula’s job to help with the adjustment for the partner and other family members as well, by answering questions, listening and supporting.
Other Specialties Postpartum Doulas May Have
So, if you’re not already like OMG sign me up, let me say a couple of other things about how postpartum doulas can support a new family. Some of them do overnight care – yep – I said overnight care. There are postpartum doulas that love this shift! They’ll hang out and wake up with the baby while you sleep. Or they’ll wake you up when the baby’s ready to feed, and then you get to go back to sleep, and they help put the baby back to sleep. They will work with you and your family’s goals/needs.
Others specialize in twins, are also lactation counselors too, and carry other certifications. Some work on their own as individuals and others are part of an agency. You can find local postpartum doulas by going to www.tampabaybirthnetwork.com as well as searching on Facebook.
Let’s Address a Common Barrier to Postpartum Doula Support
Soooo, you may be thinking something that I hear a lot from moms when they learn about what postpartum doulas do. And that’s the whole, “I should be able to do this on my own” or some version of that.
Listen. It’s very possible that you could do new momming in the 4th trimester on your own. Most women do. But just because you can, or could, doesn’t mean you “have” to.
This kind of support during such a tender time is key to helping women and their families start out on a positive and supported foundation. This is often a service that I see families use when they are adding to their families, vs. first-time moms because experienced moms already know how intense and tender those first few months can be. So, if you’re reading this as a first-time mama, I give you permission to consider this kind of support. In fact, I declare it a form of self-care.
If you used a postpartum doula during any of your 4th Trimester’s, please share! Let’s spread the word and love on how they can change lives!! And diapers! 😉