What Does a Postpartum Doula Do?
After starting the Postpartum Doula Certification Program at Birth Arts International I quickly ran into a problem. I was excited to tell my family and friends that I was enrolled in a class that I could work at my own pace at, and having full time and a part time job, making my own schedule was a dream; but nobody that I spoke with knew what a postpartum doula was, or what they do. After an explanation I could still see that a lot of people really did not understand the importance of what I was studying to do. Postpartum doulas are hired to go into a family’s home and help the mother and other family members with many different things ranging from household support to newborn care. I want my community to know that a postpartum doula provides three essential services to a mother and her newborn baby; emotional support, physical support, and mother care.
Staying home with a newborn, whether it is your first child or your fourth, is not always easy. It can be hard to adjust from getting out everyday and socializing to staying in, especially when everyone around you, including your spouse, has to keep their busy work schedules. A postpartum doula provides emotional support by being encouraging, good listeners, showing empathy, and never criticizing or judging. Postpartum doulas are your personal support system. We are there to laugh with, cry with, ask questions to, be reassuring, support the mother’s choices, and just make days that could be overwhelming or lonely, hopefully more enjoyable (Benefits of a Doula). Emotionally supporting the mother helps her feel valued and listened to during a time that she needs to feel empowered to make the best choices for herself and her baby.
On top of caring for her newborn, a mother still has household chores that need to taken care of. Imagine a woman breastfeeding on cue around the clock, while trying to catch up on the laundry, dishes, cooking, taking care of pets, and watching her other children if she has any. All of those chores can make her feel overwhelmed. When a postpartum doula enters the picture, they take care of laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, and some pet work and childcare, all so the mother can just focus taking care of her newborn. Postpartum doulas are also, “…trained to understand what new babies…truly need…[they] help with soothing techniques, [offer] breastfeeding or bottle feeding support, and [explain] normal newborn behavior” (Benefits of a Doula). Physically supporting the mother gives her time to rest and regain her strength and energy to support her newborn and her family.
A very essential part of the job is also providing mother care. With a new baby in the picture it is very easy, and understandably so, to get caught up in everything about the baby. When you take a step back and look at the whole picture, the mother needs some attention, fussing after, and tender loving care too. Postpartum doulas will make sure that the mother is as comfortable as possible, and well fed and hydrated (Clark 17). If the mother needs to rest or take a shower, we can watch her baby so she can take some much needed time for herself. Knowing that the doula is right in the next room over will provide her with comfort while she takes some time to rest or refresh. Another weight we can take off of a new mother’s shoulders is answering the door and telephone. We can tell any callers to leave a message and if company stops by they can leave any food or gifts and those will all be taken care of. A postpartum doula will be there to make sure the mother is comfortable and well cared for at all times.
A postpartum doula provides three essential services to a mother and her newborn baby; emotional support, physical support, and mother care. The combination of these three services provides a mother with a very personal and exclusive experience. Mother’s should embrace the assistance and resources we offer. We can help them get through the hardest transitioning phase, whether by giving resources or providing home cooked meals. We are professionals who offer a sincere service to families, and hopefully the work of postpartum doulas will become more known in my community, and nationwide.
Desiree Boutin is a full time nanny and a part time nutrition aide. She started watching her cousins when they were just three and six months old, and started working in a hospital setting eight years ago. She studied at Plymouth State University for two years pursuing a major in English and a minor in Women’s Studies, until leaving to pursue other interests. When she isn’t at work, she is knitting, crocheting, spending time with her family and pets, and planning her fall 2018 wedding. She is currently working on a certification to become a postpartum doula. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Benefits of a Doula.” DONA International, www.dona.org/what-is-a-doula/benefits-of-a-doula/.
Clark, Demetria. Postpartum Doula Certification Program. 2000.
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