What is a post partum doula?
A post partum doula is someone who helps support a woman and her family in the transition of welcoming a new baby.
What does that actually mean?
A doula’s primary focus is mothering the new mother as she heals from birth and adjusts to the relentless demands of caring for a new baby. She is also focused on working with her and her family to find balance and coping tools while providing educational support about the post partum period, compassion, practical help around the house and appropriate referrals.
But what does a post partum doula DO?!
Here is a list of just some of the things we do:
– Empower the mother by helping her to feel balanced, rested and supported to be the mother she wants to be to her baby
– Keep mama fed and well hydrated
– Advise the family on how to make the most of the support they have on offer
– Help to process the experience of giving birth regardless of whether it went “as planned”
– Provide breastfeeding support: getting a good latch, various positions, advice on what is “normal”, tracking diapers, identifying possible serious issues and provid appropriate referrals
– Bring healthy snacks to the mother while nursing and help advise on healthy breastfeeding nutrition and self care
– Help set up nursing stations and diaper changing areas throughout the home
– Home organization and functional flow of space to support mothering
– Offer evidence based advice on a range of normal newborn care issues
– Assist with the learning of baby carriers
– Help the mother get rest
– Prepare meals and tidy up the home
– Help the partner find practical ways to support the breastfeeding mother
– Set up meal trains
– Sibling care and transition for families welcoming a second child
– Helping to run errands or accompanying the family to the pediatrician or other appointments
– Referrals to specialists in areas of need that present themselves whether it be support groups, therapists, acupuncturists, babysitters, pediatricians, community events, household services, classes etc
– Phone and text support*
What are some of the things doula’s DON’T do?
Doulas are generalists and it was described in our training that our work should look like a mosaic. Each family we work with has a slightly different colour scheme with some colours more dominant than others. This is normal. But as we work together it often happens that we notice the same colours coming up again and again. This is a good thing! This means we have identified an area of need for you and your family- now we have to do one of two things:
1) Teach, empower, assist you in coming up with coping skills for managing this need
2) Refer to a specialist in this area.
This is all just to say that we help with almost all areas of support and care, we will do dishes and diapers, some light cooking and we will always be open to supporting your emotional journey.
But we are NOT:
But we have awesome reccomendations for all of the above needs if you should have them 🙂
What is the goal of the post partum doula?
It is quite a silly goal actually. The goal of the post partum doula is to work themselves out of a job. Not a great structure for a business!
Seriously though- we are here to empower you on your journey and help you to feel, session by session, like you are equipped with what you need to be the mother and family you have been dreaming of throughout your pregnancy. We hope to one day show up to your house and hear these words from you: “This is kind of awkward but… I don’t think we need you anymore….” Yay! Then we have won!
How long does a post partum doula work with a family?
It depends. Largely on the budget of the family and the current availablity we have. We are here to offer support for what is considered the “4th trimester” as baby adjusts to life in the world. The maximum we work with clients is 12 weeks but we would hope by then we would have set you on your way with the skills and referrals you need.
When does a post partum doula come?
In a perfect world we are there shortly after the birth. If we have met prenatally then we probably have a plan for this already in place. Maybe you have a lot of support and help for the first two weeks, in which case maybe we come week three. We also like to work with the partner and other family support so even if you have people around a post partum doula can still be extremely helpful and comforting.
Do you come at night?
This is definitely on a case by case basis. We have babies of our own so we tend to work during the day. If we can accomodate this request we will but most likely we will refer you to a post partum doula with more open night time availability or refer you to a specialist if something crops up at night that requires attention.
How long are the shifts?
Typically we work for 4 hr shifts. But not always. Call us and we can talk about it!
Where do you work?
We are currently taking clients in Brooklyn, Manhattan (some parts of) Queens and occasionally Staten Island.
Do you teach a particular parenting style?
No. And we don’t teach parenting either. We nurture you while you find and begin to master whatever style works for you and your family.
Why did you become post partum doulas?
Honestly? Well… we both had a difficult time post partum and we know first hand the difference that support makes. Without knowing it we were EACHOTHER’s post partum doulas and… we were pretty good at it. Then we realized that, especially in New York City where a lot of people are far from home and family, we were not alone in struggling through the transition.
We also like to geek out HARD on baby stuff and breastfeeding and the things we can do to help people enjoy their mothering and parenting journeys.
I think I have seen you guys around Williamsburg… Are you the two raging hippies with your adorable babies wrapped to your bodies in flourescent fabrics?
Yes. That is us.
Why do you work together?
It is common for doulas to “back eachother”. In the unpredictable world of birth and post partum (more so with birth) it helps us to find the right balance for our clients and for our own families.
How did you meet?
In prenatal yoga! We were both big bellied and bending. It was quite a sight.
You guys are funny- have you ever thought about performing?
Gee- thanks! No we are too shy for that. Just kidding. We are actors and writers and we have found that an absolutely essential part of the journey of parenthood is the perspective that laughter can provide. We take our work and your care very seriously but we do hope to make you smile and inspire you to find the joy and the humor in the challenges that lie ahead.
Any tips on pumping?
We are often asked questions about pumping. People pump for lots of different reasons but the most common questions we get surround heading back to work and making pumping part of your life. How do you do it? What are your rights? What the heck is a pump all about anyway?! If you have these questions check out this article that Laura wrote for Caribou Baby