Wait! Don’t stop reading! I know you saw the word “postpartum” and may have assumed this article wasn’t for you. I assure you, it is. Whether you’re trying to conceive, are expecting a baby, already have a baby, or simply know someone who falls into one of those categories, this article is for you.
Parents used to raise babies in villages with fellow parents and families. They learned the ropes of growing a family — of becoming parents — from trusted family members and friends. That’s not the case anymore. The reality of parenting today is that many are alone on the journey and don’t have enough (or any) support after baby is born, and the health and wellbeing of modern families is in jeopardy because of it. That’s the rough news.
The good news is there exists a support person who can help fill the gaps and ease the transition into parenthood. Meet the postpartum doula. A postpartum doula is a trained professional whose job it is to make your life with a new baby easier. They are your expert guides in all things newborn care, infant feeding, parent-baby bonding, postpartum mood disorders (PPMD), birth processing, and light household management.
Postpartum doulas provide non-judgmental support, which means they take cues from your decisions as parents and will offer guidance as needed. You won’t find a doula telling you what to do, as their job is to help you find your footing. Your doula can provide you with trusted local resources and evidence-based information so you feel confident about your parenting decisions.
Doulas offer both daytime and overnight support, and many parents will choose to do a combination of both. Daytime support typically includes: light meal prep to make sure mother and partner are nourished, taking care of baby so parents can catch a much-needed nap, helping with breast or bottle feeding, tossing in a load of laundry, and helping to normalize newborn behaviors (Yes, babies cry so let’s chat about why and what you can do about it!). Bringing a postpartum doula on board is a great way to help decrease the chance you experience a PPMD. In the event you do, your doula is an excellent resource to lean on for support as you navigate that process.
Overnight support is all about maximizing sleep for parents. Your overnight doula will take care of your baby in between feedings so you can catch up on sleep. If you’re breastfeeding, your doula will bring baby to you when they’re ready to eat and then take baby back with them to burp, rock, and ease them back to sleep. (So if baby is awake all night, you’ll still be able to sleep!) If you’re bottle feeding, your doula could potentially take all the nighttime feedings so you can get a solid 8 hours of sleep. How dreamy! Overnight support is also beneficial for partners who can get a full night of sleep when a doula is there for support.
Hiring a postpartum doula BEFORE baby arrives can help ensure a positive start to your parenting journey. Consider interviewing and hiring a doula during pregnancy so that you are set up for success the minute baby comes home. Many doulas offer daytime support, overnight support, or a custom package of both to suit your needs. HINT: postpartum doula support is a great addition to any baby registry! Ask friends and family to help you have a doula.
A common saying in the postpartum doula world is “We like to work ourselves out of a job”. So when your time with your doula comes to an end, you and your partner are feeling confident and no longer need that extra layer of support. Don’t be surprised if your doula gives you a big high-five on their way out because you are officially rockstar parents!
Jami is a birth and human rights advocate, who respects the fierce vulnerability and power in creating, welcoming, and nourishing every stage of a family. She is a certified birth and postpartum doula through Doula Trainings International (DTI), has also trained with DONA International, and received her Lactation Educator Counselor credential from the University of California San Diego.
Jami’s goal of supporting a thriving village extends beyond her role as owner of AustinBorn. She is an active member of her local doula and birth communities, and holds memberships with the Central Texas Breastfeeding Coalition and the Austin Young Women’s Alliance, and is the former Secretary of the Central Texas Doula Association.