Frequently Asked Questions
What does a postpartum doula do?
Doulas provide emotional support, evidence-based education & care, practical help & household organization, as well as facilitate partner, sibling, and grandparent involvement & integration into the new or expanded family.
Doulas provide emotional support: The transition into new parenthood is a very vulnerable time, and postpartum doulas are experts in emotional support, active listening and knowing when the emotional burden on a new mother, partner, or family member has become overwhelming.
Doulas provide evidence-based education and care: DONA postpartum doulas are trained to understand what new babies, new mothers, and new families truly need. Having a doula to assist your family helps alleviate one of the biggest fears of new parents – “I don’t know what to do.” Doulas help teach and perform baby soothing techniques, they offer and perform breastfeeding or bottle-feeding assistance, and they help you set reasonable expectations about normal newborn behavior.
Doulas provide practical help and household organization: New babies make big emotional and time-consuming demands of new parents, so postpartum doulas help the household run more smoothly by helping with the baby and mother’s laundry, doing the dishes, helping with older children, and preparing nourishing meals.
Doulas provide partner, sibling and grandparent transitional support: A new family member means big changes for everyone, including parents, grandparents and big brothers & sisters. Postpartum doulas understand how to assess what everyone needs, and are prepared to help each family member adjust, whether, for example, that means showing dad how to wear the baby skin to skin, showing big brother how he can help mom set up the baby’s bath, or educating grandma on how well baby is doing with sleeping & eating.
A doula doesn't interfere with a partner's role - on the contrary, a doula's support frees up your partner to fully focus on his or her new job at hand as a parent. A doula helps take care of the mother's birth recovery needs, as well as household tasks which would usually be left to a partner, so that he or she can spend more time bonding with the new mother and the new addition. A doula alleviates partner anxieties by teaching your partner baby wearing, baby bathing, and baby soothing techniques. A doula communicates with and offers support for grandparents and siblings, so that your partner can focus on you and the baby. A doula's role is to help your partner transition into parenthood smoothly, so that when the doula departs the whole family is independent and self-confident without her.
Will hiring a doula interfere with my partner's role?
The best time to hire a postpartum doula is as soon as you realize you could use a doula's support.
The ideal time is probably during pregnancy when you are planning for your fourth trimester (the 3 months following birth). Just like swaddles, swings, breastfeeding pillows, etc. - a doula can be an integral part of preparing for life after baby arrives. Contacting, choosing and hiring a postpartum doula while you're pregnant gives you the security of knowing you have a support system in place, no matter what.
Postpartum doulas specialize in supporting families in the first 3 months after birth. They can be hired, though, at any time to help families who need a doula's assistance. A family may realize they need a doula's help when their baby is 6 weeks old, or 20 weeks old. Nurturing Partners is here for you when you need us.
When is the best time to hire a postpartum doula?
Is it possible for a postpartum doula to help after a c-section?
Absolutely! In fact, a doula may be even more of a necessity for a family who is dealing with a mother recovering from surgery. Doulas can help with c-section friendly nursing positions and breastfeeding challenges. Doulas can also greatly alleviate the pressure on the mother's partner to take care of household chores, allowing the mother a smoother recovery as her partner focuses on her.
If I choose to bottle and/or formula feed, can I still benefit from a postpartum doula?
However you choose to lovingly parent your children, a doula can help support you. Doulas are knowledgeable in the skills necessary for safe and effective bottle & formula feeding. We can help with pumping, scheduling, sterilizing, mixing, and feeding the way that works best for your baby and your family. We can help, also, with any reassurances needed, either for the mother, partner, grandparents, or whomever that the choice or necessity to bottle/formula feed is right for your child.
I'm a working mom nervous about the transition from maternity leave with my baby to pumping for work & sending my baby to daycare - can a doula help me?
Most American mothers find themselves returning to work right at the end of their fourth trimester, if not sooner. This can feel almost as stressful for a mother as the first weeks she brought her baby home! A doula's help can make that transition smoother for the mother, the baby, and the whole family. Whether you need help planning a pumping schedule, estimating how much milk baby will need while you're at work, advice on milk storage & feeding, assistance communicating with daycare about your breastfed baby's needs, or someone to pick up the slack with the household while you deal with all of that, a doula can help!
Do doulas have a particular parenting philosophy?
The only philosophy a postpartum doula has is to support the family and their belief system, while abiding by the DONA Code of Ethics. Doulas must remain non-judgmental and provide evidence-based information only. While Aemelia may have personal parenting beliefs and preferences for her own children, she leaves those at home, where they belong!
Do doulas perform or help with sleep training?
This is a difficult question to answer, because “sleep training” is a loaded term with definitions as varied as the opinions about it. Doulas have the knowledge and skills to help babies sleep well at night and to help parents establish and adopt healthy sleep habits from the start with their baby. These healthy sleep habits encourage baby to sleep longer stretches when they are developmentally and emotionally ready to do so. We do not assist in practices which attempt to circumvent baby’s developmental need to wake for food or comfort in the first months of life. We are happy to help with healthy sleep habits such as distinguishing day from night, establishing sleep cues such as a bedtime routine, and organizing spaces and items to make wake/sleep cycles easier at night. We are also very happy to help parents cope with a high needs baby who doesn’t seem to like sleep (yet!). We are always prepared to provide evidence-based information about infant sleep, assess a family’s sleep needs, and problem solve for ways we can nurture the mother, baby and family into a more functional sleep dynamic. If we encounter a sleep situation beyond our scope, we are ready and able to refer a family to someone will the skills they need.
How can doulas help with postpartum depression?
Unlike counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, doulas do not and cannot treat postpartum depression. Studies show that when women are cared for by others in the days and weeks after childbirth, leaving mothers only to care for themselves and their baby, they have superior outcomes in postpartum adjustment. We know from research that women who experience support from family members, care providers, such as doulas, and peer groups, have greater breastfeeding success, greater self-confidence, and less postpartum depression. Doulas relieve pressure on the new mother, and her partner, by helping them set reasonable expectations, providing concrete instruction and modeling of newborn and new mother care, and by aiding in household organization during this time of huge upheaval in the home. Doulas mother the mother and are focused on her well-being, as well as the family as a whole. Doulas are trained to spot the signs of postpartum mood disorders and to help their clients to screen themselves, in order to make timely referrals to appropriate clinicians or support groups as needed.