So you’ve Just Had a Baby…
This is absolutely magical. You’ve welcomed a newborn baby into this world and your home. You have given pieces of your heart, mind and spirit to your new favorite human. This journey is remarkably life changing, with moments of joy and challenge. In your transition into parenthood, a postpartum doula can be a great source of extra support. What’s a doula, you ask? You’ve visited the right spot!
What is a Postpartum Doula?
Doula is an ancient Greek word meaning, “a woman who serves”. In modern day, a doula refers to a professional who accompanies women and families throughout the childbearing year. More specifically, a postpartum doula accompanies you, the new family, in the months following birth. During this “fourth trimester”, the postpartum doula provides you with nonjudgmental emotional support and education around newborn care. The doula nurtures you as a parent, and in turn you are more equipped to care for your new baby (or babies!). While individual postpartum doulas have a wide variety of specialties, many doulas can assist you with things such as: processing the birth or adoption experience, light cleaning, self-care tips, meal/snack preparation, newborn feeding (breast, bottle, etc.), identifying and understanding baby’s cues, caring for baby or siblings while you rest, shower, spend time together, etc. While nannies and other childcare providers focus primarily on the baby, postpartum doulas are there to create space for you to develop your new normal, recover from birth, and gain confidence about caring for your new baby.
Doulas & Postpartum Mood Disorders
As non-medical professionals, postpartum doulas can connect you with community resources and practitioners for the diagnosis and treatment of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, or PMADs. Doulas offer support around some of the factors that can play a part in the development or exacerbation of PMADs. Ensuring that you have adequate sleep, proper nutrition, connections with community resources and ample time for other self-care practices, postpartum doulas can be helpful in the prevention of and/or healing process from PMADs.
How do I Find a Postpartum Doula?
Looking for a postpartum doula? Often, folks find doulas through their extended work, family, and social circles. Try asking the service providers in your life (OB, midwife, counselor, therapist, chiropractor, birth doula, massage therapist, childbirth education instructor, naturopath, yoga teacher, etc.) if they have a postpartum doula that they recommend. Doulamatch.net is also a really wonderful site to check out – they have thousands of birth and postpartum doula listings from all different areas. Still haven’t found the right fit? Try searching the web for “postpartum doula” + your location for doula agencies, cooperatives, or individual practices.
Whether you have made the decision to hire a postpartum doula before baby arrives, or if baby is already here and you’re realizing you’d like some additional support, finding the right postpartum doula for you and your family is very important. Some things to consider when choosing the right fit for you are the doula’s training, experience and personality. Is this doula certified through a postpartum doula organization? Are they new to this work or have they been doing this for a long time? Most importantly – do my family and I feel safe, connected, and comfortable around this person?
Postpartum doulas charge anywhere from $15-$40 per hour depending on location, education, specialties, experience, number of babies, time of day, etc. This is an incredibly important service however, cost can be a limiting factor for many families. If financial circumstances are a barrier for your family, there are options! Extended families will often contribute towards postpartum care for a baby shower gift. Some postpartum doulas offer sliding scale packages depending on a family’s financial situation. Often, new doulas or doulas still in training will offer reduced rates in exchange for help with certification paperwork or evaluations. Postpartum doulas also may offer to trade or barter their services with you in exchange for goods or services that you may provide them. Postpartum doulas recognize how crucial this time is for families and will often try to be as flexible as possible while also remembering that this incredibly valuable work is how they make their living. Welcoming a baby into your life can be magical and difficult… you deserve support, you deserve a postpartum doula.
*Beth Keenan lives in Portland Oregon and has partnered with a new doula group called Brave Birth Doula Care. If you are in the Portland area I highly recommend that you reach out to these 5 amazing ladies.
Birth & Postpartum Doula