What is a Postpartum Doula?
Is the term "postpartum doula" new to you? Maybe you've heard it but you're wondering what postpartum doulas do. Don't worry, you're not alone! We get lots of questions from friends, family, and even clients about what postpartum doulas do, how we are different that other support services (like a "baby nurse", night nanny, or newborn care specialist), and why many families find our support to be indispensable.
We've compiled a few of these "frequently asked questions" about postpartum doulas to help you get a better understanding for the value we can bring to your family's adjustment to life with a new baby (or babies!).
Doulas of Asheville Frequently Asked Questions | Postpartum Doulas
We hope you'll find this FAQ helpful, but of course we are always available to talk with you personally about your family's needs and how our professional postpartum doulas can support you!
who hires postpartum doulas?
Any family looking for a little extra help after having a baby can hire a postpartum doula. Postpartum doulas are experts in all things newborn and new-mom/parent. Postpartum doulas are great for first-time parents who are feeling a little lost and overwhelmed by the newness of bringing home a baby. We can help show you how to use all the baby items you registered for, help get your home and baby's nursery set up and working for you, help you establish routines and schedules (if that's your thing), help with feeding baby (supporting breastfeeding or bottle feeding according to your preferences and goals).
Postpartum Doulas are also great for experienced parents who have their hands pretty full already with older siblings. We can take over baby care so you can enjoy one-on-one time with older siblings, or we are great at keeping older siblings happy while you enjoy some snuggle time with your newborn. Whether a new or experienced parent, postpartum doulas are experts in nurturing families with new babies to help you feel calm, confident, supported, and well rested as you adjust to life with your newborn.
is this about postpartum depression?
We see where this misconception comes from, but no, hiring a postpartum doula isn't necessarily about postpartum depression. "Postpartum" simply refers to the period of time following the birth of a baby. And the word "doula" comes from the Greek word meaning (roughly) "a woman who serves". So postpartum doulas are people (often women) who support families with new babies.
will a postpartum doula take the place of my family support?
Absolutely not! Many families enjoy the support of family during their first days home. But not everyone has the opportunity to have their family on hand to help out around the house and with baby (and not everyone is comfortable with their own family members in that role). And often, even if you have the most helpful and supportive mother/sister/aunt/friend, they aren't able to stay with you for as long as you'd like. Your postpartum doula is great at filling in the gaps, no matter how big or small. We're there for as long as you'd like (and even work overnight), and our support - while nurturing and caring - comes without our emotional investment in how you choose to parent your children. We're able to provide completely unbiased, judgment-free support (which we've heard can be hard to find among even the most loving family members...)
what parenting styles or philosophies will a postpartum doula support?
We support one kind of parenting philosophy: yours. That's it. We trust that you are the expert on what's best for your family, and our role is to support your choices, decisions, and parenting style. Of course, we'll help you find good information to make decisions that feel right to you, but we'll never steer you in one way or another or impose our opinion or bias on you and your family. Attachment parenting, scheduled parenting, disposable diapers, cloth diapers, breastfeeding, pumping, formula, independent sleep in a crib, bed-sharing... we support it all. Our job as postpartum doulas is to offer unconditional, unbiased support for your parenting decisions and guide you into your roles as new parents feeling confident and cared for. We come equipped with the most up-to-date information on all things baby & new parent, but we absolutely will not judge any decision you make.
do postpartum doulas help with breastfeeding? what if I'm using formula?
Yes. Postpartum doulas are trained to support you regardless of your feeding choices. Breastfeeding, pumping and feeding breast milk by bottle, formula feeding, some combination...there are many right ways to feed a baby. We can help you find breastfeeding positions that feel comfortable for you and your baby and we can help troubleshoot some common breastfeeding problems. If you are experiencing challenges outside our scope as doulas, we know how to connect you with local breastfeeding experts that can help. If you are using formula, we'll be right there with you making bottles and feeding your baby with love. We can help you find the right formula for your baby and put systems in place to make formula feeding a little easier. (And we're great at washing and sanitizing all those bottles while you get some rest or catch up on baby snuggles!) What we won't ever do is judge any decision you make about how you choose to feed your baby, whether by breast, bottle, or some combination.
how long will my postpartum doula work with my family?
For as long as you find our support helpful! We don't put an expiration date on postpartum doula services. Some families are happy with a little help in the first few days or weeks home with their baby, others enjoy having their postpartum doula on their team well into their baby's first year (and beyond!). We know that an extra set of skilled, compassionate, nurturing hands can be nice to have around well past the traditional "fourth trimester" period, and we're happy to support your family beyond your baby's newborn stage.
do postpartum doulas only work families who had birth doulas?
Absolutely not! In our experience, many families who hire postpartum doulas haven't had a doula at their baby's birth.
do postpartum doulas support partners & parents who haven't given birth?
Yes. Our role is to support the whole family welcoming the newborn. We support partners as well as mothers, and families who welcomed a child without giving birth themselves. There's more than one way to become a family, and we're honored to support you no matter how you became a parent. Maybe you became a parent through adoption or surrogacy, the support of a postpartum doula is helpful in many of the same ways as for mothers who gave birth. We're there to help you find your way with your baby. From showing you soothing techniques (like swaddling, baby wearing, ways to hold your baby to relieve gas pain...) to aiding in feeding, getting the nursery set up, establishing systems and household routines, caring for your baby while you catch up on some sleep, and so much more. The support of a postpartum doula can be a tremendously helpful for all parents, whether you are recovering from childbirth or not.
when do postpartum doulas work?
We are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, 365-days a year. Yes, really. Whether you are looking for an extra set of helpful hands to make your days a little smoother or you'd like to catch up on some much needed sleep overnight knowing your baby is being expertly cared for, we're here for you. We can come to you while you're still in the hospital recovering from your birth, or be there for you when you arrive home to make that transition a little less scary and a lot more supported. We can help you decide what kinds of shifts would be best for your family and put a package together to meet your needs. And because of our agency model, we're able to provide as much (or as little) support as your family needs, for as short or as long as you'd like it.
really? I can hire someone to help with my baby overnight?!
We know, it sounds too good to be true. But yes, our postpartum doulas provide overnight care for families with babies. We care for your baby according to your preferences while you get some sleep! This works with breastfeeding or bottle feeding families. We can bring your baby to you for feedings or take over some (or all) overnight feedings according to your goals and preferences. Even if you choose to breastfeed throughout the night, you'll be able to stay in bed, feed your baby, and then hand him or her off to your postpartum doula to take care of all the rocking, shushing, and soothing back to sleep.
do postpartum doulas do sleep training?
Not quite. As doulas, we will support any direction or instruction you give us regarding the care of your baby. We also understand the science of infant and toddler sleep, and can help advise you on what's normal and what to expect based on your baby's developmental age and stage. As with all other aspects of our support, you can expect us to be enthusiastic and encouraging members of your team regardless of the choices you make about managing your baby's sleep and your style of nighttime parenting.
My baby is over three months and I'm just learning about postpartum doulas. Is it too late for me to get help?
Are you ready to learn more about how Doulas of Asheville Postpartum Doulas can support your family?
We're here for you to talk about your families needs, goals, and plans and can work with you to put together a postpartum doula support package that meets your needs. Give us a call, we're ready to support you!