what is a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula is a person that helps a new family adjust to their new addition. Traditionally, the role of the postpartum doula is to “mother the mother”. By nurturing the mother, the mother can gain the confidence to mother her new baby.
Ok. Why would I need one?
The postpartum period is wildly different among different cultures. Most cultures provide for some lying in period for the mother, and a network of community members/trained professionals take care of the mother, baby, and immediate family.
The Netherlands provides 49 hours of in-home postpartum care, which includes newborn skills, breastfeeding support, practical support, etc.
Can you imagine? Gosh, that sounds blissful.
On the other hand, the United States (and Papau New Guinea) are the only countries in the world that do not provide paid family leave. And, as we know, there is no government subsidized in-home postpartum care AT ALL.
I find this hard to wrap my head around.
Mothers should be taken care of, they are raising the next generation of citizens.
I digress…can you tell I’m passionate about providing support for new moms???
Most moms underestimate the postpartum period. 80% of moms will experience the “baby blues” and 15% of moms will experience postpartum depression/mood disorder.
The changes: physical, emotional, hormonal, are all something that moms have never experienced before.
A postpartum doula can help.
What does she do?
This is entirely up to you and the doula. Her main goal is to ease the transition for the new family (particularly the new mom). This may include: breastfeeding support/help, physical support (helping with delivery recovery), emotional support (processing birth stories, discussing role changes, etc.), practical support (helping with chores around the house: baby’s laundry, meal prep, grocery shopping, etc.).
How long is the relationship?
This depends on you and your doula. Some relationships will last longer than others. Some doulas will work a couple hour sessions at a time a couple times a week, others will do full day sessions, and some will even do overnights so the mom can rest.
A postpartum doula wants to work herself out of a job. She wants the mom to become confident and proficient, so the doula is no longer needed.
How much does it cost?
This, again, depends on the doula and how she structures her business. Some doulas have a sliding scale. If you feel that it will be a financial hardship to hire her, but you are confident that having her will be an asset to your postpartum recovery; talk to her about this. It can’t hurt to ask.
Becoming a mom is hard work, and once you officially become one it doesn’t get much easier. Having postpartum support in those early weeks can really help. No mom knows exactly what she is doing once she births a baby, she needs support. Sometimes she has that support already (her mother, mother-in-law, sister, etc.). Sometimes, she doesn’t. Or those people are unavailable to help as much as she needs.
Be supported. Have someone be your cheerleader and assure you you are doing an amazing job (even if you think you aren’t). You are doing great, even if you haven’t changed your pjs for 3 days.