Who hires a postpartum doula?

I get asked this question a lot.

It usually stems from the confusion about what a postpartum doula actually does.  Which makes sense.  Whenever you hear the word "doula", many people assume the doula in question is a birth doula...if they know the word "doula" at all!

Here's a bit of my own story--

When I had my daughter, my heart felt like it might burst with love for her but I also felt lost, stressed and worried. My husband and I combined had about five minutes' worth of baby experience and while our hearts were willing, our brains were muddy from nerves and a lack of sleep- completely unreliable at a time when we needed them most. We weren’t sure about a lot.

  • Is she getting enough to eat? The nurses at the hospital said wake to feed her and my sisters said not to.  Who do I listen to?

  • She sleeps so much! Is this normal?

  • We thought that babies cried a lot.  She doesn't cry very much; is our daughter okay?

Without family close by, I relied on the usual SOS’s: texting and Google. Getting informed, reliable help when you need it shouldn’t be that hard, even if it is “just” an extra pair of hands so you can shower.

Enter my plan--once I got my sea legs and my mind back--to become a postpartum doula.  I love the idea of supporting women and their families when they need it most.  Yes, they need the support in childbirth too and there are amazing birth doulas, midwives and other professionals who meet that need.  But there are far fewer of us who are there when the going gets really rough, when the rubber meets the road, when the euphoric "I DID IT!!" stage wears off and what you have left is pain, confusion and sleeplessness.  This is often the place where the gap of community and support becomes strikingly obvious. And happily, that's where I step in. 

Most of my work at Outside The Mom Box is about building relationships.  In childbirth education, with local recommendations, through support groups and more.  Not many people let a complete stranger into their home at their most vulnerable time.  I wouldn't! My goal when I meet clients, any new folks really, is to get to know the other person (who she is, what;s important to her, what are her hopes and fears, etc.) and maybe get to share a bit of who I am and perhaps some resources to help in the future. I do this work because I feel passionate about supporting women and their families.  I do it because I want to be of service.  So, maybe the best answer to "who hires a postpartum doula?" is this: families who wants their little one to get the best possible start in the world.

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Posted on February 12, 2014 and filed under Post-partum best practice.