Why is Having Babies so HARD?!?
Through most of history, new parents would have had their own extended families and involved neighbors to come around them and help when a new baby was born. There’s no shame in that, and a lot of need for it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who cared for you while you cared for your baby? Someone who could help with some of the housework, make sure you were eating well, or just an extra set of arms when baby wanted to be held. There is someone who does just that. If you don’t have a knowledgeable, non-judgmental group of relatives and friends who can come spend hours helping you, then you need to know about Post-partum Doulas.
What Exactly is a Postpartum Doula?
A Postpartum Doula comes to your home and helps you with whatever you need help with in caring for your new baby. Her goal is to take some of the burden of parenting off of you so you can enjoy your baby. Often, postpartum doulas have expertise in breastfeeding, but can also help you safely prepare formula. They have knowledge about what is normal in the postpartum period and what may need a referral. The support is not just for mothers, but extends to fathers and other children, too. Her goal is to help the family function more smoothly in the early weeks so that eventually you feel confident and knowledgeable enough to not need her anymore!
What Kinds of Things Will My Postpartum Doula Help With?
Each doula has a different set of skills, but generally they help with whatever the family needs at the moment. Some even do night hours! Her duties often include:
*Education about breastfeeding and baby care
*Soothing baby while parents sleep, eat, shower, etc.
*Preparing simple meals and snacks
*Helping with laundry
*Light housecleaning (washing dishes, sweeping, etc.)
*Playing with older children
*Organization and streamlining for baby care
That’s Amazing! Is There Anything Postpartum Doulas DON’T DO?
Most Postpartum Doulas don’t do heavy housework or work that isn’t related to caring for a new baby. For instance, she isn’t the person to change your oil or paint your house. She also doesn’t provide medical care, but will tell you if she feels a doctor or other professional would be beneficial. Many do not watch children while parents are not at home, since the goal is to help the family function on their own. She is not just a babysitter.
Who can benefit most from a Postpartum Doula?
Every time a new member is added to the family there is a time of adjustment and healing for the mother where she needs extra help. When getting postpartum help mothers benefit, babies benefit, fathers benefit, everyone benefits! You especially need help if:
*You are a single parent
*You have other young children who need supervision
*Your baby is having feeding or health issues
*Mother has had a Cesarean or difficult birth
*Either parent is having health problems (physical or mental)
*There will be an early return to work for either parent
*There are issues which make parenting more difficult
*You have multiples
How do I find a Postpartum Doula?
There are websites where you can search for doulas near you, such as doulamatch. Not all doulas are Postpartum Doulas, so be sure to include that. The best way is probably by asking around to those who work with pregnant and postpartum doulas, such as baby store owners, pediatric chiropractors, lactation consultants, and support group organizers who they recommend. Social media may also be a way that other mothers could share who helped them. They can be hired either before baby is born or after.
Most Postpartum Doulas have packages that include a certain number of hours (the more hours, the less expensive per hour) and may include other services. They generally provide a free interview so you can see if your personalities mesh. It is best if both parents and even children can meet her before any contract is signed. A contract that details exactly what you expect, the number of hours per day, and any limitations should be signed by both parties ahead of time, just so everyone is on the same page.
Remember, you are no less of a parent for asking for help. In fact, it is very wise to know that families were never meant to be totally alone during this very important time in your life that you can only do once!