A postpartum doula is an invaluable asset to families who have a new baby.
Welcoming a baby is a special time, but it is also a difficult transition for everyone in the family. A postpartum doula comes into the family structure as a temporary support, relieving pressure from the new mom and her partner as they grow into new roles. She comes into their home for several weeks, providing assistance in the exact manner it is needed. The entire family is able to focus on welcoming this new person, knowing that the postpartum doula is there to make sure nothing is neglected, including the care of the new mother.
A postpartum doula fulfills the roles of caring for the mother and older siblings, modeling newborn care to new parents, siblings, and extended family, as well as household management.
She is responsible for overseeing the mental and emotional recovery of the mother, referring her to a doctor in the case of signs of postpartum mood disorders.
A postpartum doula is available to the entire family for emotional, educational, and physical support. She has a listening ear, is an expert in evidence-based baby care, and is experienced in the day to day running of a household.
A typical day often includes discussions about infant feeding
and postpartum healing, preparing a simple lunch and snacks for the household, allowing the new mother time for a shower and a nap, ensuring that there are plans for dinner such as thawing a casserole or ordering delivery, spending time in open play with older children allowing them space to process their emotions, helping the mother write a grocery list for her partner, and tidying the kitchen, bathroom, and floor. A postpartum doula also has a community of professional contacts, so that if the new family needs any further assistance in their adjustment she is able to recommend a professional specific to their individual needs.
A postpartum doula supports the mother by helping her process the emotions related to her birth, assessing the success of infant feeding, and making sure her basic needs of rest and nourishment are met. She supports the partner by helping him to process his emotions related to the birth, building confidence in his ability to care for his baby independently, and relieving him of the some of the household chores, which provides him time to bond with his new family. She supports the siblings by giving them attention and making sure their needs are met while their mother recovers. She also teaches them how to help care for the new baby, fostering a sibling bond.
According to the DONA standards of practice, a postpartum doula does not provide medical or clinical assistance of any kind to the families that she assists but instead refers the family to a medical professional. She is not a housekeeper or babysitter but instead works with parents to build confidence, strength, and self-reliance in the new family unit. According to the DONA code of ethics, the postpartum doula fosters total self-determination of the family by respecting their methods, prerogatives, and rights while assisting them to adjust to their new family. All information she obtains in her service is held in confidence. Maintaining the family's privacy is very important to her. A postpartum doula is reliable and professional at all times, having a primary responsibility to the family she is assisting. Integrity, competence, and professionalism are hallmarks of a DONA certified postpartum doula.
A family that has the support of a postpartum doula can easily integrate a new baby into their daily lives. This allows them to experience more fulfillment, joy, and companionship than a family that is struggling to connect with each other and their new baby while accomplishing all the daily tasks of a household.
Written by Jade Park: Registered Nurse, Certified Postpartum Doula(DONA), Certified Dancing for Birth Instructor, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, Babywearing Instructor