All About Postpartum Doulas
This is part two in a two part series All About Doulas! Today, we dive into your experience with doula care after giving birth to baby (or babies!).
Q: Who is a Postpartum Doula & What does a Postpartum Doula do?
A: A postpartum doula is…
- a non-medical professional; we serve families within the first 42 days up to 12 weeks postpartum (and sometimes, beyond)
- someone who brings universal and timeless wisdom into the postnatal space. Note, postnatal care is not a new age creation; women and birthing people have been supported by familial and professional caregivers since time began
- like a mother, sister, auntie, best friend (we’ve got your back) with the background, local/global referral network, and resources to honor your journey
- helps you self-advocate, clearly communicate, and make educated decisions during times when you need to most
- provides unconditional love and support
- teaches you how to honor, love, and trust the wisdom of your body and baby (or babies)
Fact: Your postpartum doula is not the same as a nanny or night nurse; we tend to you and your family… we are not there “just” for baby as we believe (and know) well-cared-for mothers and birthing families change the world. Also, many postpartum doulas have specialize in a certain modality! From yoni steaming to Bengkung belly binding to trauma-informed and bereavement support, Cherry Blossom Postpartum Doulas work to meet the specific needs of our families. Additionally, with a foundation in Ayurveda we offer specialized support persons who can provide more individualized care; and guidance around nourishment, guided bodywork, mindfulness, and rest.
Q: Where and how do postpartum doulas serve?
A: Postpartum doulas serve in homes and virtually and may offer –
- Postpartum planning
- Daytime support
- Overnight support, including for breastfeeding families
- Feeding & newborn care education
- Partner and sibling care
- In home meal preparation
- Womb care, belly binding, womb healing & womb closing ceremonies
- Yoni steaming
- Miscarriage and birth loss support
Q: What do postpartum doulas do during a typical shift?
A: Everything. Or almost everything! We assess your needs and then meet them in the ways described above.
- lightly tidy up, wash dishes, and do mom and baby laundry
- hold baby while you shower or bathe, or tend to a sibling
- listen to your and your partners questions and concerns
- help you navigate all important relationships and establish healthy boundaries
- teach you how to wear or bathe baby, change diapers, educate you on diaper options and guide you in trimming babe’s nails
- support all ways of feeding baby including breast, chest, bottle, exclusive pumping, SNS and finger feeds
- offer compassionate emotional support and mental health screening
For overnight shifts, we give you the option of being “ships passing in the dark” (actively co-caring for baby or babies) or complete rest. A doula allows you and your partner the comfort to take a break to catch your breath; eat with two hands; go to the bathroom or take a bath; catch up on sleep; or tap into healthy coping mechanisms from meditation to the gym (for the non-birthing partner – you won’t be spending time at your gym for a little while)!
Just like your Birth Doula, we treat you with the utmost respect, reminding you of the badass birthing human you are – and love on you like a sister.
Q: My partner plans on taking a few weeks off to care for me. Do I still need a Postpartum Doula?
A: The short answer is – yes. (Yes, yes… did we say yes?) Especially if you don’t have family or close friends nearby and ready to share on-call support. On average, we suggest that our families receive at least 12 hours of postpartum care for the first two weeks. This can be safe, loving family and close friends; or it can be a postpartum doula.
We want you to know this part especially…
- A doula can not and does not want to replace your partner
- We compliment the partners role, acting as your very best team and allow them a break
- We provide a woman’s touch, experience and empathy – something your partner might not be able to provide as they, too, walk through this sacred space, transition, and often big changes in relationship dynamics and sleep
- We create a safe space so that the partner can love on the mom and be as hands on (or hands off) at their comfort level, and –
- We provide an unbiased support so that when partner needs to rest, take a break, etc. mom is not left alone
Note: if you don’t have a partner, we can and will be your main support. Days, nights, email, zoom and text (all with healthy boundaries, of course!)
Q: Are Postpartum Doulas trained or certified?
A: Postpartum doulas are certified by local and global agencies and/or are trained in ancient wisdom by those who know it best including indigenous groups and Eastern teachers. We believe that doulas should always carry doula insurance, too. This expresses a certain level of professional accountability to our clients.
Q: Are there any statistics that show Postpartum Doulas as a benefit to birthing people?
A: Research shows that at least 72% of moms seek outside support in their first two weeks postpartum; and we get to fill that gap. And, clinical studies prove that an Ayurvedic lifestyle (traditional Indian medicine) in the postpartum decreases incidences of postpartum depression and anxiety (most specifically using food as fuel) by up to 66%. You can read that study here.
Q: When should I look into hiring a doula?
A: As soon as you think you may want doula support, start looking! Doulas are limited on the amount of clients they can take a month; and, repeat clients know to reach out as soon as possible to reserve their spot. You can expect experienced doulas fill up quickly.
Q: What happens if I need support and I don’t hire a Postpartum Doula ahead of time?
A: This is such a great question, and one we receive often! While we cannot guarantee ongoing care (though our team continues to expand through training and mentoring new Postpartum Doulas), we can often support you with emergent care. This means that after a brief video call getting to know you and your needs, we may be able to provide support right away. Sometimes, it’s just one shift when mom or birthing person haven’t slept for quite some time. Other times, we’ll have a gap in our schedule and be able to support you for a longer period of time.
Note: When we are fully booked, we have hands and feet on the ground in our community. So we’ll do our best to point you in a better direction when we can!
We’ll conclude with this reminder – your postpartum matters. If you haven’t heard it before, in Ayurvedic Postpartum Care we say that you’re first 42 days are equal to your next 42 years! How you are cared for during this precious time can make a substantial impact on your body, mind, and relationships
If you have questions that are not answered in this blog post dear one, please reach out. We are happy to continue this conversation so that you and yours experience your very best postpartum – and life!
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.