Even though my potential clients have some idea on what Postpartum Doulas do, they still like to ask this question. It’s a great one! First of all, it’s hard to imagine what you will need as a new parent since you’ve never done it before. Secondly, postpartum doulas are all slightly different, many specializing in different areas, such as lactation or placenta encapsulation.
The easiest answer is: it depends. Each family is different and everyone has different needs. Originally a postpartum doula “replaces” a close family member, such as grandma or aunt. We know that nowadays it is unrealistic to expect our mom to move in for a few weeks to help. Additionally New York is a very specific place where many of us are far far away from our families. Also, since this natural family oriented support is not so common, many people don’t know how to give the support needed.
Here comes your Postpartum Doula, a person who will listen to you and help you in the first days/weeks with your baby. My shift lasts a minimum of 4 hours which is a good amount of time to observe at least 1 feeding. If you’re breastfeeding, you might have many questions about positioning, latch, milk transfer or any possible pain; in case of bottle feeding, you might want to know if the bottles you’re using are good, how to wash them most efficiently and how to hold your baby for feedings and burping.
Then our next priority is often rest/self-care. This is the time for parents to take a shower and a nap not worrying about the baby waking up. Phantom cries while in the shower are the worst! To be able to relax knowing that a professional is taking care of your precious baby is invaluable.
If your baby happens to be sleeping soundly, then as your doula I will take care of the other important matters, such as fixing you a meal or two, doing the laundry, washing the bottles or pump parts, organizing baby’s nursery etc. When your baby wakes up, I will bring him/her to you for the next feeding.
Then we will have time to discuss your questions and concerns. Perhaps regarding your own recovery after the birth (whether it is a vaginal birth or cesarean, there are LOTS of different things happening to our bodies, some normal and others maybe concerning) or perhaps regarding newborn care such as bathing, nail clipping/filing, diapering, baby care products, sleeping arrangements, baby gear and gadgets or special circumstances, such as taking care of cradle cap or diaper rash.
If times permits, we go over babywearing. Either discussing what carrier would be best for your family’s specific needs or helping you use the carrier you already own. We discuss the benefits of wearing your baby and best situations to use this useful tool in your parenting.
All in all, my goal is to leave your house with you feeling confident and hopefully rested so you can take care of yourself and your baby.
Many parents in NYC who are unsure if postpartum doula support is a right fit for their family, choose to start with a one time 4 hour visit that helps them determine if they will need more hours. Read about the service here: http://www.mformoms.com/services/#/postpartum-doula/