Sarah Thorpe, RN, Childbirth Educator and Postpartum Doula at Nurturing Birth & Beyond shares a guest blog with us today covering why you may need a postpartum doula, who would benefit from one and how to find the right one for you.
There seems to be one hundred things to do before baby arrives, right? Well, I am going to add one more to your list! I would even make the claim that this deserves to be in the top three in level of importance: hire a postpartum doula.
Planning for life after baby is more important than which stroller you purchase, the crib you assemble and it is more impactful than which color you paint the nursery. We spend a lot of time and money preparing for pregnancy and labor, but hardly any time is devoted to preparing for the new life AFTER leaving the hospital. Investing in things that are unseen is almost counterculture in our society. But to thrive once postpartum, you must be proactive!
Families used to have more physical support. Not too long ago, it was common for one parent to stay home and tend to the children. Now, families span the country, close friends you met in college live states away and even “local” friends live out of walking distance. Many families, at best, rely on minimal leave after their baby is born and most mothers return to work, in some capacity, within 15 weeks after giving birth. Everyone is longing for more genuine connection! This can feel especially true as a new parent. Connecting with a postpartum doula fills in these gaps of support. Investing in a postpartum doula can completely alter the start of your parenting journey!
When asked, “Who should hire a postpartum doula?” the short answer is, everyone! Postpartum doulas are specially trained to assist with newborn care, understand the healing postpartum woman and help families navigate life with baby. These doulas typically work with families from birth until baby is 12 weeks old. You can think of a postpartum doula as your central knowledge base for how to thrive in the day-to-day with a newborn.
While everyone can benefit from a postpartum doula, there are a handful of circumstances where I strongly suggest seeking one out!
In families with particularly short maternal/paternal leave from work, hiring a postpartum doula is especially beneficial because the doula is there to help maintain your home, cook meals and give you more time to soak up all that baby goodness.
New parents with low familial support will also benefit. Thank goodness for video chatting and texting, but sometimes you just need a physical shoulder to cry on, or someone to hold your colicky baby so you can eat a nutritious meal.
A postpartum doula is also helpful for families where either parent has a history of mental illness. Unfortunately, the natural hormonal changes and overall stress of the postpartum period puts this population at a higher risk of postpartum mood disorders. This applies to men and women. A well trained postpartum doula will know what warning signs to look for and what resources are available, if needed.
Can you make it through those first newborn weeks without a postpartum doula? Of course you can. But why not set yourself up for the best experience possible? You and your family deserve to enter this new phase of life with more than just an overflow of baby blankets and a “good luck!”
Having a certified doula is DEFINITELY ideal, but unfortunately most areas are not as lucky as Richmond. For a lot of organizations (especially DONA), it takes a long time to get certified and if someone really needs help, I would hate them to not seek out a doula due to lack of certification. That being said, making sure your doula is at least TRAINED, has a reputable organization and can provide you with examples of how they’re approaching certification is a nonnegotiable in my opinion.
Here is a list of reputable organizations to find your postpartum doula:
Each of these companies’ websites are able to direct you to a search to find a doula anywhere. Also, doulamatch.net is a widely used platform and doulas will list how to contact them, where they service, and who they’re trained or certified through.
Take the time to meet a few postpartum doulas in your area and see what kind of care they offer. You really have nothing to lose and a much more relaxed postpartum period to gain!
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