Want to know more about using a postpartum doula?
These are some of the questions other parents ask.
Everybody who has a baby can benefit from postpartum doula care. (Our doulas say all the time that we wish we could go back in time and have a postpartum doula for our own babies. Some of us still want a postpartum doula but our little ones are a few years too old, lol.)
Think about how new parents have been taken care of after a baby in other cultures, throughout time. Traditionally, they'd be surrounded by an entire village of support people who could bring delicious food, offer nurture, talk through this transition to parenthood, offer breastfeeding advice, and care for the older children. They'd be on the lookout through those weeks for signs that anything was off kilter. Today, we seem to send people home to their isolated little boxes and tell them to figure it out. No wonder rates of postpartum mood disorders are so high in the Western World. Even today, other cultures do it better. In the Netherlands, a postpartum nurse comes to the home each day to help with nurture and support.
Every family is unique, but these are some of common categories of parents who hire our postpartum doulas:
• Parents having their first baby
• Families with multiples
• Parents with energetic older children
• Those who are highly motivated for breastfeeding success
• Parents who have had a difficult or traumatic birth
• Babies who are fussy or colicky
• Anyone with a history of depression or anxiety, or who are at high risk
• Families with limited newborn experience
• Babies with special needs, including preemies
• Parents who haven't been around many other newborns
• Parents who are new to the area and need local connections
• New parents going back to work at 12 weeks or sooner, who need to make the most of their maternity leave
Most people survive the "baby boot camp" weeks of the fourth trimester. But we don't just want you to survive, we want you to thrive with your new baby. Too many new parents struggle through this time, and we know the kind of support we offer can help so much.
Midwesterners are pretty awesome, it's true. But we can also learn a thing or two about good postpartum care from our fellow parents on the East and West Coasts, where postpartum doula support has been integrated for a long time. Part of our Midwestern sensibility is knowing a good (or great) thing when we see it.
Postpartum doulas are available to help everyone during this settling in time. It's great when you have other support in the home. We'll work with you and your loved ones to decide where we fit in with the plan.
Doulas can model how to take care of you and the baby, offer current and evidence-based breastfeeding information, and answer everyone's questions. Your partner might need to process their experience with the birth, or how things are going with adjusting to life with a new baby. Grandma (your mother or mother-in-law) might need to talk about what life was like when she was a new mom, or she might need a break to get some fresh air so she can be her best for you and your little one. And sometimes we arrive and everyone in the house — everyone — goes right down for a much-needed nap, while the doula takes over with the baby.
The people who love you often have strong opinions about parenting. That's understandable! Your doula is there to help both parents figure out exactly what you want, and how to make that happen. We've got information, options and expertise, but no judgment, agenda or pressure.
If we're hired before the birth, we usually like to see you the day you come home from the hospital (or for a home birth, around day 3). Those first few days are extra intense as your milk is coming in, sleep is topsy turvy, and you usually have lots of questions. We might see you a few days in a row, and then we'll start to spread things out as you find your rhythm.
We typically support you in four-hour shifts, although sometimes our visits get a little shorter toward the end of our time together. If you have family visiting to help you, we might visit less frequently during those stretches, and pick up frequency of our visits again later. Everything is customized exactly to what you need. We can also pick up hours and visits if your baby develops colic (typical between weeks 3 and 8).
A common rhythm is for us to come three to five days a week for the first week or two, then to slowly spread things out to three days a week, then two, then one. Our support focuses on the fourth trimester, or the first 12 weeks after your baby is born. Some families are ready to be on their own after 4-6 weeks, and others will use our support throughout all 12 weeks (and occasionally longer). These are common patterns, but it's all about what you need and how this time with your little one evolves. Whether it's just a few shifts or many months together, we're happy to help.
Every family and every baby is unique, but we've definitely never had a client complain about too much postpartum doula support.
Most families having their second or later baby, with straightforward needs, opt for 40 hours of support, which averages around 10 visits. That usually gets you through the first month postpartum, sometimes a little longer.
For first-time parents, those with multiples, or moms with a history of anxiety, we always recommend our 100-hour package if you can, or 60-hours if 100 is not do-able. That could average two or three visits a week for six or eight weeks, which is an amazing start for you and your baby.
If you get to the end of your contracted hours and need more, please talk with your doula. If the doula's schedule allows, we'd be happy to extend your time. Often, though, our doulas have another client due around the time your contract ends. So your best bet to guarantee your doula is available is to start with more hours on your initial contract.
Oh rest assured, our doulas come with all variations of crunchiness. 🙂 But the real question is, how natural-minded, or conventional, or right-down-the-middle are you? Our time with you is not at all about the doula's parenting style or preferences. It's about what's right for you and your baby, and we're happy to adopt your style whenever we are in your home—no judgment. If you want suggestions on parenting, we can share what's worked for other clients, so you can figure out what's best for your family. But we always keep our own parenting decisions out of the client relationship. This is your baby and your time.
The one thing our doulas will not do is to support cry-it-out methods with a newborn. We're happy to show you some gentle sleep techniques that can help everyone, but because research shows that cry-it-out can be harmful to babies at this age, we don't feel comfortable participating.
Ah, we love this question! It's an easy one to answer because of the nature of the postpartum doula role. You see, our doulas are actually trained to work themselves out of a job. It's part of our services to help you become so independent and confident that you don't need your doula anymore. Especially as we're getting close to the end of our time with you, we're prepping you to be on your own. You'll miss your doula (we develop a pretty special bond), but you should also do just fine without her.