Doulas are trained professionals who can guide families through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Most people who know about doulas think they primarily help parents through the birthing process.
“A lot of people don’t even know that postpartum doula is a service that is available,” says Nadia Hoppe IBCLC, a postpartum doula, lactation consultant, and yoga instructor.
Fourth trimester support is important
Many new parents prepare for the birth process but not the postpartum period, also known as the fourth trimester.
“They sometimes feel very lost, very overwhelmed. A postpartum doula can play a critical role in easing the transition to parenthood,” says Hoppe. The most rewarding part of her work is when “the parents and particularly the person who gave birth start to feel confident in their role as a parent.”
Parents who get support during the days, weeks, and months after birth benefit in several other ways:
- They feel more cared-for and secure in their new roles.
- They adapt more easily to shifting family dynamics.
- They have more success when it comes to breastfeeding.
- There’s a lower risk of postpartum depression.
Postpartum doula services
Providing individualized education is the most valuable aspect of postpartum doula care. Hoppe knows that parents who feel worried about doing things correctly or have questions “are up googling in the middle of the night finding 100 different things. It’s all very new and overwhelming.” Much of her time is spent answering questions, offering reassurance, and normalizing the changes.
- Breastfeeding support.
- Facilitating emotional and comfort care after birth.
- Light housekeeping, errands, laundry.
- Assistance with newborn care such as diapering, bathing, and feeding.
- Making nutritious meals.
- Teaching the family how best to soothe and bond with the baby.
- Infant care so parents can care for themselves.
- Assisting with sibling care and adjustment.
- Some doulas offer overnight services so parents can get a full night’s sleep.
- Referrals to local resources such as pediatricians, lactation consultants, and parent groups.
Finding the right doula for you
What services do you want?
Doulas differ in the postpartum services that they provide. Some doulas focus only on newborn care and education. Others will include light chores and preparing meals. If you want someone to stay nights, then you need to make sure that is an offered service.
How much time do you need?
Do you want someone who will come every day for a few weeks or someone who will spend time with you for a few hours a week?
Are you comfortable with this person?
This may be the most important consideration as a doula will be in your home working closely with you, the new baby, and your family.
Finding doula services
Your friends, family, or doctor/midwife may know of a doula or doula service in your area. Other resources from Toledo Area Parent include “Toledo Area Midwives and Doulas Create Unique Birth Experiences,” “The Doula Xperience Expands its Reach,” “Solace Health and Wellness Opens in Downtown Toledo” and “The Doula Experience: Guidance through Pregnancy, Labor and Beyond.”