And why should I hire one? What does a postpartum doula do?
Essentially, a postpartum doula is there to look after the mother so that she can look after her baby.
The kind of support they would provide will entirely depend on the needs of that particularly mother, baby, and family.
When I had my doula do her postpartum sessions with me, she brought meals and snacks, helped me with some breastfeeding and positioning, folded some nappies and put them away, and read a couple of books to my older daughter. Mostly, though, she just listened to and talked with me. Because that's what I needed most. She had been my birth support doula as well, and there was a lot to debrief.
Generally, providing a sympathetic ear is one of the biggest roles a postpartum doula will fill. Someone non-judgemental who will let you speak whatever you need to about your birth experience and early postpartum, whether it is full of positivity and joy, or tied up in sadness, guilt, anger, or other negative feelings. Having someone allow you to express all those feelings without judgement is a really important part of the postnatal period.
Postpartum doulas will make sure you are being nourished with nutritious food, and plenty of water and other beneficial beverages like herbal teas. They can take care of light housework and cleaning tasks to allow you to rest, which is another crucial part of postpartum recovery. Resting, and not just being off your feet, but actually being horizontal, is critical to good recovery.
They will also make sure that you are feeling confident in looking after your baby, providing reassurance and assistance if needed. Things like nappy changes, feeding (particularly assistance with breastfeeding in those tricky early days), naps, settling, bonding, and baby wearing, are common areas where you might want a bit of reassuring or help that a postpartum doula can assist with.
They might also have some supplies to help you physical recovery, like postpartum padsicles (for perineum care), sitz baths, or more.
Other common tasks a postpartum doula will take on include entertaining older kids, caring for the baby while the mother showers, eats or naps if she would like, providing mother with evidence-based resources on postpartum and parenting questions she might have, and referring the mother on to additional services if she needs them (such as lactation consultants, or mental health professionals).
Some postpartum doulas will have additional qualifications or training in things like placenta encapsulating, massage and infant massage, traditional Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, belly binding, naturopathy, or any number of other things that they might be able to offer you in your postpartum.
In summary, a postpartum doula is essentially there to mother the mother. In our cultural moment where so much focus is on the new baby, the postpartum doula is focusing holding up the mother so she can rest and recover and enter her new chapter of motherhood feeling supported and strong.
My name is Katelyn Commerford and I am a doula and next birth after caesarean guide who has completed comprehensive doula education. If you want to know more about what I do and how I can help you, please visit my website where you can get your free cheat sheet of my favourite VBAC resources, or find me on instagram @thenbacguide where I answer commonly asked questions about planning the next birth after caesarean and share loads pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting content.
Business Name: Katelyn Commerford - Doula and NBAC Guide
Phone: 0431 369 352