What are the advantages to hiring a postpartum doula? Here is a short list of some of the services provided by postpartum doulas:
- Newborn baby care. This can be especially helpful if you are new to caring for a newborn and are looking for guidance and reassurance regarding activities such as bathing, feeding, burping, diapering, or even clipping those tiny fingernails.
- Help and support with breastfeeding. Having an experienced person there to talk you through proper positioning and latch, feeding times, and milk production can help you get off to an enjoyable and lasting nursing experience.
- A better postpartum healing experience and more sleep for mama. Some, but not all, postpartum doulas are available to help your family with overnight visits. This can help the mother recover more easily and quickly. Your doula can bring the baby to you for feedings and then handle the burping, diaper changes, swaddling, and more.
- Meal preparation, light housework, errand running, accompanying you to first outings, such as doctor’s appointments. How nice to be able to enjoy time with your new precious little one while a doula makes you a meal for now or for later, runs a load of laundry, the dishwasher, or handles a trip to the grocery store.
- Companionship and a nap. When family and friends have left to go back to their jobs, staying home with an infant can make for a long day. Some women find having a birth and postpartum professional around can ease baby blues, help with preventing or coping with postpartum depression, and aid with settling into the new routine of having another family member. Let’s not forget the chance to take a long shower or bath or even take a nap!
- Baby item help and organization. Help finishing a nursery, assembling assorted breast pumps, proper use of slings or wraps, suggestions for stage appropriate use of swings or mobiles, help with cloth diapering — all of these questions can usually be answered by your postpartum doula. You may even have her return some of the items you decide are not necessary.
- Older sibling care. Having a snack for a tot or older child, coloring, assistance with potty training, and more.
- Special care circumstance assistance. Do you have multiples? A preemie or low birth weight baby? A baby with certain medical conditions, such as requiring a heart monitor? Are you recovering from a cesarean section or other type of difficult birth? A doula often has experience and training in these areas, along with imparting peace of mind. A postpartum doula can also point you to more information regarding any special circumstances, such as books, websites, or even local groups.
- Local resources. Your postpartum doula has accumulated a wealth of knowledge concerning pediatricians, nannies, babysitters, local mom groups, local consignment shops and sales, etc. Pump her for information!
In today’s age, many families live far from any other family members. They may have wonderful friends who can only devote so much time to helping out with the baby and your family. Years ago, mothers, mother in laws, grandmothers, aunts, cousins would have done the work of a postpartum doula. Your family may not live close by, or they may be tied to other commitments. In other countries besides the U.S., new fathers and mothers can request and receive long periods of time for maternity/paternity leave, but unfortunately most new fathers or partners will be returning to work within a week. Hiring a postpartum doula for a week or a few weeks can ease the transition into parenthood.
Worried about cost? Consider the possibility of hiring a postpartum doula while you are still pregnant. Ask family members to chip in, particularly if it makes more sense geographically and economically to have a postpartum doula for a few days or weeks rather than for a family member to travel long distances or take time off from work. Interview a few postpartum doulas, asking if they are available for overnight care or any of the services that would be most beneficial for your family. Inquire about their fees, services, and contracts. Will they come for a certain amount of hours per day or week? Can it be broken up in time slots that would be most beneficial and economical for your family? Is the doula available around the time of your estimated due date? Is the doula comfortable creating a plan of services you are interested in, such as errand running or light housekeeping? Does the postpartum doula offer a discount if you contract a certain amount of hours per day or week? Can you begin paying ahead by placing a deposit or making other arrangements? Of course, you will want to inquire about their training, experience and ask for and check their references, particularly if you are dealing with multiples or special circumstances. Choose the postpartum doula you are most comfortable having in your home.
Even if you are only able to manage having a postpartum doula for a few hours a week, you will find it to be of great benefit. If you find yourself to be struggling with exhaustion, recovery, or postpartum depression, hire a postpartum doula to help you manage. Some postpartum doulas are available on short notice, so never think it’s too late.
All Rights Reserved, Kimberly Sebeck, Knoxville Doula, 2014