Thinking you may need a bit of extra help after the birth of your baby? You’ve come to the right place. We’re huge advocates of getting mamas all the support they need! A postpartum doula may be the perfect option for you as you adjust to life with a newborn. We share everything you need to know about postpartum doulas below so you have a clear understanding of the role and whether it’s something that would be a good fit for you and your family.
The word doula originates from Greek and means “woman’s servant.” Her role is to act as a labor companion, providing emotional, physical, and educational support to the mother, both before, during, and after labor. Doulas are non-clinical practitioners, meaning they don’t provide medical advice. Rather, they listen to you and your partner’s needs and advocate for you. While there are different types of doulas, including antepartum and birth doulas, we’re going to focus on postpartum doulas.
In historic times, the women in villages would surround mothers during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum as they transitioned into motherhood. The phrase “It takes a village” is the perfect state of mind to have as you adjust to the realities of life with a baby. Nowadays, a postpartum doula offers a modern take on “the village” mentality, providing everything from breastfeeding support to meals to a listening ear.
What to expect
The role of a postpartum doula is to offer support for the mother and the entire family, including your partner, other children, and the baby. Unlike a baby nurse, a postpartum doula focuses on teaching and educating the family and building their confidence in their roles. She’ll also help with daily housekeeping and chores to allow space for the mama to bond with her little one.
Aliza Bancoff, a birth doula and postpartum doula and founder of International Doula Institute in Philadelphia, explains to Parents.com, “We offer support in the practical side of things: Laundry, dishes, housework, cooking, errands. Essentially, we mother the new mother, nurturing her so she can nurture her precious new baby.”
We also love how Erica Chidi Cohen, birthing and postpartum doula and co-founder /CEO of LOOM (a modern health education resource center in L.A) explained it to Goop: “We’re like water. We come in and fill in the cracks.”
It’s up to you and your needs! A postpartum doula’s visit will usually last at least four hours and up to eight. She can visit as much as once a day or as little as a couple times a month through your 4th trimester (12 weeks postpartum). While not all postpartum doulas offer overnight care, many do—just ask!
In the beginning, the postpartum doula will sit down with you and your partner to identify your most pressing needs. Once those have been identified, she’ll work to create priorities for each subsequent visit. Oftentimes, the first few weeks will focus on feeding the baby, teaching the parents, and helping you rest (so important!). The final weeks are geared toward outings and developing healthy routines.
Because there is no licensing agency for doulas, you do not need to be trained to call yourself a doula. We highly recommend seeking a doula that has been certified by an organization that oversees training such as DONA International, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), or The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA).
Yes! In 2008, a study was published that found that mothers who received postpartum doula care had increased maternal empathy and maternal self-confidence.
We’ve got it all below!
Doula Interview Questions
Like a birth doula, you should book a postpartum doula as soon as possible. But,
Postpartum doulas usually charge by the hour, ranging from $15-$75 per hour. Some doulas offer discounts if you book them for a certain amount of hours, if you pay in advance, or if they’re a newly trained postpartum doula. More and more families are asking for postpartum doula services as a shower or baby gift. Additionally, postpartum doula services may be paid using money from your FSA or HSA, depending upon your particular plan’s guidelines.