A  postpartum doula is an excellent way to help new mothers make the transition from pregnancy to birth to postpartum

I have been a childbirth educator, birth and postpartum doula and currently focus on working as an IBCLC, helping mothers with breastfeeding.  There has been numerous ways in which we can help a new mother, however, one of the most important, effective and valuable ways to help a mother is for her to have support and help from an experienced mother.  This help can come in the form of an experienced friend or family member.  Many mothers are now hiring a postpartum doula to help them with the transition from birth to new motherhood.

A postpartum doula is someone who comes to the home of a new mother and offers assistance in various ways.  Depending on their qualifications, a doula can provide such services such as:

  • light cooking
  • light cleaning
  • laundry
  • small errands
  • newborn care
  • help with other children in the house
  • offering education on baby care
  • offering breastfeeding support

The postpartum experience can be  happy and joyous, as well as exhausting.  This is a time often  filled with lots of questions and concerns about the mothers own recovery, care for her newborn, help with an older child adjusting to the newborn, processing the birth experience and helping the family adjust to this amazing transition in their life.  It is the doula’s role to help nurture the new family and help  instill confidence in their new roles.

Some tips for finding the right doula for your family:

1.  Make a list of what services are important to you.  If you have specific hours that you need coverage for, make that known.  If your family has specific dietary needs and you are looking for a doula who will provide light shopping and/or cooking, you will want a doula who has some knowledge in this area.

2.  You may have food and cleaning covered well, however, you really need help with a toddler and some errands. Your doula needs to be comfortable with toddlers and not just newborns.  She will also need to be okay with running some errands outside of the house, so transportation will be important.

3.  Doulas need to practice within their scope of experience and certifications.  Some moms will have challenges beyond the basics in their own health care, their emotional postpartum stage or breastfeeding challenges.  Anything more than the basic help with mom or babies healthcare or breastfeeding, should be referred to the expert.  Part of a doulas expertise is recognizing the need for expert help and come prepared with resources and referrals.

4.  Request references from other clients of the doula you are considering hiring.  Some doulas have transitioned from full time job, to being a mom, to becoming a doula.  Requesting references from her  previous employment is an excellent way to gain information on her work ethics and reliability.

5.  Speaking of reliability, you will want to be sure that you have worked out arrangements with your doula regarding her ability to be available during the time period that you need her.  Working out an arrangement on fees is also important before you hired your doula.

If you don’t have a close family member to help you out postpartum, a doula helps to fill in that gap during the first few weeks postpartum.  When finances are an issue, I have suggested to many a parent to request this as a gift, in leiu of baby blankets and clothes and toys.  Frequently new parents get so  much clothes and blankets.  Babies grow so fast they can’t possibly wear all the clothes they were given.  Hire a  postpartum doula and you will realize that is was money well spent.  They help you rest and recover in the comfort of your own home and have a wealth of knowledge to share as well.

Contact http://www.dona.org to learn more about doulas and finding one in your area.