No, we’re not night nannies!
Say the word ‘doula’ to some people and they will conjure images of a long haired, long skirted woman who only promotes an organic, vegan, pure lifestyle that includes breastfeeding, no epidural and a home birth. Say ‘postpartum doula’ and the reaction of some will be about the same.
Postpartum doulas are so many things for new parents:
•They are the keepers of a wealth of information on things like feeding an infant, or changing them, getting them to bed or bathing them.
•They help moms recover from the birth, whether vaginal or caesarian section, physically and emotionally.
•They know all about bonding, soothing and caring for baby.
•They know about dealing with issues when the birth didn’t go quite as planned and baby or mom has special needs.
In the days and weeks that follow the birth of a baby, there are so many things to take care of and worry about. A postpartum doula, first and foremost, takes some of that worry away.
Despite this clear list of positives, there are still so many myths about postpartum doulas—actually, doulas in general too but we’re just going to deal with the former for now!
A postpartum doula is NOT a babysitter, night-nanny or a housekeeper!
Of course, we’ll hold the baby while you take your first shower in three days but we’re not here to babysit while you go to the grocery store and grab a cup of coffee with your friends. We’re not here to cook and freeze weeks worth of meals or clean the house top to bottom for you. Of course, if you need help with organizing a few things, you should never be afraid to ask your postpartum doula, but a good PP doula will always outline in advance what they will and won’t provide in terms of services, so that no one has to wonder or be unclear on that!
A postpartum doula is NOT all about being organic, crunchy, and natural
This is probably the hardest myth to break but it has to be said: we’re not here to judge you. We’re here to support you in your parenting decisions. If you interview a postpartum doula who is telling you that they won’t work with you if you don’t cloth diaper and dress your baby in organic everything, run for the hills. They’re not the right PP doula for you. The very last thing you need is to feel judged in your parenting choices at that most vulnerable time, postpartum.
A postpartum doula is NOT going to tell you how to parent
We are there to support you. If you’re not sure about something, we can draw from our experiences and give you some solid advice. If you’re deciding between cloth and disposable, we can give you the merits of both. If you’re not sure how to bathe baby while the umbilical cord stump is still healing, we can help you with that. If you’ve never mixed a bottle of formula in your life, we can show you the right proportions and let you run with it. At the end of the day, YOU are the parents, and no one can take that away.
A postpartum doula is NOT a lactivitist
This relates to the point above about PP doulas not being ‘crunchy’ but it is worth singling out because many people labor under the misconception that a doula will only work with parents who are breastfeeding their baby. This is false with a capital F! Babies need to be fed. That’s it. There’s no judgment one way or the other. If you need help with breastfeeding, we’re there for you. We can show you comfortable positions and latching techniques. If you’re planning on bottle feeding, we can show you easy ways to sterilize everything and get you on a path of good eating habits for baby.
A postpartum doula is NOT needed since you have family / friends / spouse
No. You need everyone in your and your baby’s life: family, close friends, your partner. The difference with a PP doula is that we can help you through those first days and weeks postpartum from a distance. Not a physical distance, but an emotional one. We’re apt to notice things that your family might not and have experience in areas of dealing with infants that your mother may not remember or have had. It’s all about getting a broad perspective on dealing with all sorts of issues and sometimes, for a new mother who is emotional and exhausted, it can be easier to turn to someone who is there for her and the baby with no other entanglements to get in the way.
A postpartum doula is NOT needed since this is my third kid
No two babies are ever the same. Your first might have slept through the night at three months. Your second might have colic for weeks. Your first may have been a breastfeeding dream but your milk may not come in for some reason for the second. Then what?
You just never know what will happen. And parents with older siblings, more than any other families, need to keep some sense of the every day for the benefit of the other children. That’s a lot easier to do when you have support that is specifically directed at the latest member of your family. So while first time parents will benefit in specific ways from the expertise of a PP doula, so can parents with more than one child.
A postpartum doula is NOT only needed because of postpartum issues
Having a diagnosis or postpartum depression or having a baby that was preterm and spent a week in the NICU and needs some specific care when they do come home are NOT the only reasons to consider hiring a PP doula, although they are very good ones indeed! Parents, and mothers in particular, need support irrespective of the type of birth they had. It’s not about how difficult the birth was or the issues you and your baby are facing. It’s about transitioning from one life to another as smoothly as possible, for everyone in the family. A PP doula can be the resource that makes it all a positive and enriching experience.
If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not you should hire a PP doula, feel free to ask! There are no questions that aren’t worth asking and there’s never any judgment