What will a postpartum do while she is with our family?
A postpartum doula's role is so unique to every family. Essentially, she will come into your home, assess your needs, and jump in to help. Your doula's role is to nurture you as you make the transition into life with your new baby. This could include help with breastfeeding, suggestions and information about baby care, and resources to help heal your own body postpartum. Your doula is a gentle teacher, sharing evidence-based information and helping you integrate the baby into your family. She might take over baby care for a short time so that you can have a shower or a nap, or show you how to use a baby carrier. Doulas can also do some light housekeeping, such as washing dishes or wiping down counters. Often, couples find it helpful to have their doula prepare meals for them. If you have older children, she may spend time playing, or working with them to help them adjust to the big sibling role. Your doula will come in with a great sense of what new families typically need, and then work with you to decide how she can best support you through the transition into parenthood.
Who needs a postpartum doula?
Better yet, who deserves a postpartum doula! Traditionally, a new mother would be surrounded by an entire village of support people who could nurture her in the tender weeks and months postpartum. In our society, we too often send new parents alone to their isolated little boxes, without meaningful support and guidance. Postpartum doulas can be helpful for families whose relatives live far away, or whose family members don't share their parenting philosophy. We work for brand new parents, and those who are adding a sibling to the family. Pretty much anyone who wants to get parenting off to a smooth, centered start can benefit from a postpartum doula.
How long with she stay, and for how many days or weeks?
At Birth Kalamazoo, we have a minimum commitment of 20 hours of postpartum care, with visits at least four hours long. Beyond that, the time we spend with a family varies greatly, depending on their circumstances and needs. It's most common for a postpartum doula to spend several days a week in the new family's home. You might work with your postpartum doula for a few weeks or a few months, there is no one right time frame for every family.
Do you do overnights?
Yes, under the right circumstances, we are happy to help new parents through those overnight hours. Please e-mail or call us for more information.
How is a postpartum doula different from a nanny or a baby nurse?
Baby nurses bring medical expertise to childcare, while a doula is a non-medical professional who is trained to support new families. Nannies take over childcare responsibilities from the parents, while your doula will work to empower you as a parent.
I have help from my husband/partner/mom/aunt/friends… What else can a postpartum doula offer?
All of those people can offer wonderful support in the days and weeks postpartum! Some of their skills may spill over into the postpartum doula realm, and others are quite different. Postpartum doulas are great listeners, and they can support you in forming your own parenting philosophies, based on solid, research-based information. Your doula is an objective source of information and support who can help both you and your husband or partner adjust to life with this new little person. Many family members and friends have found that with a postpartum doula's help, they are actually more involved in caring for mom and baby because they learn exactly how to be most supportive.
What is the postpartum doula's goal? Will she push a particular parenting approach?
The postpartum doula's ultimate goal is to work herself out of a job. Your doula will work to build your skill and comfort as a new parent, until you are so at ease that you no longer need her support. Doulas don't push one particular parenting method over another, and we won't judge your choices. At Birth Kalamazoo, we have become really good listeners who can help new moms and dads sort through their feelings and find resources to support whatever approach is best for them.
How can she help my husband, partner or children?
It can be overwhelming to care for a new mom and baby, and postpartum doulas can help share that nurturing role. For dads and partners, the doula can help them know how to help, and reassure them about what is normal for babies and postpartum mothers. Siblings have a big adjustment too, and doulas can ease that transition by spending time playing, talking about their new role, and helping the parents with tips on how to interact and entertain older children during the intense weeks when mom is healing and a newborn needs so much attention.
Do doulas help mothers cope with postpartum depression?
Doulas are not therapists or medical providers, so they do not treat postpartum depression. However, they can help new families recognize the symptoms of imbalance, and connect them with resources for help. Doulas are also great listeners, so they might lend a friendly ear to the new mom, or help to take care of other household responsibilities while she is focusing on getting well. There is also some evidence that using a postpartum doula can help reduce the chance of developing postpartum depression.
What's the best time to hire a postpartum doula?
During your second trimester is a great time to hire a postpartum doula. It allows you some time to get to know your doula and settle into your plans, and it allows her to roughly pencil your baby's arrival into her schedule. That said, it's also appropriate to contract with one of our doulas as you get very close to your birth, or even after your baby is born. Those kinds of requests aren't uncommon at all. Please call or e-mail, we're always happy to brainstorm and we're generally able to help.