Guest Author - Vanessa Pruitt
A postpartum doula's work is similar to a birth doula except that they work with families after the baby is born rather than before. Postpartum doulas focus primarily on educating and supporting the parents in their new role, giving them what they need (mentally and physically) in order to better care for their baby. The goal of the postpartum doula is to eventually phase out the parent's need for professional postpartum support.
A Postpartum doula will perform many duties for you and your family. Many postpartum doulas look at much of their work as “mothering the mother”, making you feel nurtured and cared for during this time. She will support and care for you by keeping you well hydrated, nourished, rested, and comfortable in the days or weeks following birth. All of these things will allow you to better care for your baby and recover from birth faster. She can offer breastfeeding support and education as well as baby care information. She will also seek to provide you and your partner with strategies and skills to improve your ability to bond with your baby, giving you confidence in your ability to parent.
Because doulas often have families of their own, their schedules vary. Some doulas work full-time while others work only a few hours a week. The time of day that they work can also vary widely and can include mornings, afternoons, weekends, and even overnight. Most postpartum doulas charge by the hour. Postpartum doulas can offer services to you anywhere from a couple of days or up to 3 months after the birth or more.
Postpartum doulas respect the partner's role and will help your partner gain skills to nurture both you and the baby. Postpartum doulas often emphasize just how important your partner's role is in your family. She will show him and any other family members what their duties and tasks should be when she is not around or available. Just as the postpartum doula's goal is to nurture you so that you can better care for your baby, she will demonstrate your partner and your family members how to do this for you as well.
A good postpartum doula will never pass judgment on you and your parenting choices. Just like a birth doula, a postpartum doula is there to offer information and support your decisions as the parent. Her role is to come alongside you as new parents and support you every step of the way.