This short essay may help when first exploring what postpartum doulas are all about. It also has some helpful tips when deciding which postpartum doula to hire.... so, read on!
What is a postpartum doula, and should I consider hiring one?Some people hire a private labor coach, or doula, to assist during childbirth. Similarly, there are doulas who specialize in helping familiesafter the baby's born, easing the burdens of daily life so you can concentrate on your baby.
Postpartum doulas don't have medical degrees but rather are trained or experienced in providing care during the first days or weeks after childbirth. They'll do all sorts of things to help ease your transition to new parenthood — from caring for you and your baby and offering breastfeeding advice to cooking, babysitting, running errands, and even doing light housework.
"The doula we used got us through the first two weeks after my son was born," says Lee Madison of Northampton, Massachusetts. "My partner and I had no idea what we were doing, and she made us dinner, took care of Willie, and kept the house clean. I got to nap and catch up on sleep — and was glad I had after she left."
Maybe you don't have a willing mother or other relative ready to pitch in after you have your baby. Or maybe you'd simply prefer to use a doula's services instead of, or in addition to, a relative's help. Either way — if you can afford to hire someone — you'll find the help of a good doula invaluable. Even if your mate is eager to take over household duties while you recover, letting someone else do some of the work allows the two of you precious time with your baby and with each other.
How do I find a postpartum doula?Ask your childbirth instructor, doctor, midwife, hospital, or friends for a referral. The organization Doulas of North America (DONA) can also help you find a postpartum doula through its online doula locator.
Once you have the names of prospective doulas, you may want to ask some of the following questions to make sure you find one who suits you. Keep in mind that she'll be providing personal services around your home, so you should feel comfortable with her as a person. You may want to interview more than one person.
Questions for prospective doulas:
- What training or experience have you had?
- What is your fee and what services does it cover? (Be sure to find out exactly what she will and won't do. For example, if you're expecting her to cook or help with an older child, make sure that's included.)
- What happens if I give birth earlier (or later) than expected? Is your schedule flexible, and if not, can you refer me to another doula if need be?
- Can you provide references from other families you've worked for? (And be sure to check those references!)
- Does she seem kind, warm, and energetic?
- Does she seem knowledgeable?
- Does she communicate well?
- Is she a good listener?
- Would you feel comfortable having her in your home?
Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board