Baby Hints & Tips

Postpartum Doulas – What do they do?

Expert tips by Samantha Birch (Doula)

Have you ever heard of a postpartum Doula? More and more people are hiring Doulas to work for them not only for the preparation and birth of their new babies, but after the baby is born to help the family settle into day-to-day life plus one. A postpartum Doula can do the things that just don’t get done in those first few weeks after you bring a new baby home. Some women have the added bonus of hiring the Doula they had at their birth. This is ideal as she is familiar with the baby, parents, siblings, the house and even the dog. She is support for the mother to talk to about her feelings as they come up, such as personal fears, anxieties, and to help ease her discomfort after her birth. If you think you are going to hire a Postpartum Doula try to do the hiring about a month before your due date (unless you use your birth Doula). Have a long interview to get to know her a little and take the whole family. Ask her to visit soon after the baby is born so she can get a feel for how things have panned out during the birth and adapt her care to suit your situation. A Doula trained in postpartum has experience in lactation, common infant health problems, mothers health and much more.

Its not just helping with the baby though, it’s much more than that, and is the reason why I have added casseroles to my list of services.

There are times when the circumstances are not ideal on arrival home from the hospital. You may have discomfort, the baby wants you 247, your husband/partner has to go back to work right away, and sibling needs are great. As most of us know it doesn’t take much for things to slide, even on a normal day. Postpartum Doulas can take up the slack and get things done quietly in the home so you can concentrate on your bundle of love. It varies between Doulas as to what they will and won’t do, so make sure you write a list of what you would like her to do, to take to the interview. However, most will do light cleaning such as vacuuming, cooking, washing, attend doctor visits, entertaining older children. As well as look after mother and baby, of course.

There are a few special talents that most postpartum Doulas can teach also. They are well trained in the six states of awareness of an infant. She can teach you how to attune yourself to be aware of the signals your baby is sending you. What the signs are for tired, hungry, overwhelmed, ready for talking, touching and listening. Fathers don’t miss out either, with gentle guidance they can bath; dress; help position baby for feeding or make bottles and feed baby themselves. She may also discuss what is going on for the woman, why things are up and down and how he can best help.

So what’s my take on being a Postpartum Doula? I find that most families say that nobody told them about “after, the baby was born” the focus is on getting the baby out into the world safely. They never knew how hard it is to prepare for this demanding little sole coming into their lives. I try to calm things down and get everyone happy and comfortable, seek out what needs doing most and get it done with as little noise and bother as possible. I ask when I arrive how Mum is feeling, how bub has been, and then work on the most needed thing first. I make sure Mum has plenty to drink and make her lunch, and be sure there is a dinner ready for Dad to dish out and clean away with little effort. Get older kids homework started and help them out if they need. Every family is different, and all require different levels of help with different areas. I have attended doctor’s visits, bathed babies, aided Mums with latching on issues with breastfeeding and just held the baby and the space for an exhausted Mum so she could get some sleep. I enjoy working as a postpartum Doula, it’s very satisfying and I feel I really make a difference to not only the first few weeks but also, that smooth sailing irons out the rest of the days that follow.

 Have you used a doula? Would you consider one for your next pregnancy?
Share your comments below. 

Samantha Birch

Samantha Birch is the owner of Under the Birch Tree, and is a postpartum and birth doula located on the Gold Coast. Visit her on Facebook. To see all of Samantha’s articles, click here.

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