More bliss with your new baby.
Having a new baby doesn't have to be stressful or overwhelming. Your postpartum doula is by your side to help you figure out this new little person, and this new life. And to help you get some sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep.
Having a new baby doesn't have to be stressful or overwhelming. Your postpartum doula is by your side to help you figure out this new little person, and this new life. We'll also help you get some extra sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep!
Nurturing, supporting and caring for you and your baby through the fourth trimester.
After your little one is born, there's still more growth and development for both of you. Have your friends told you how it can get a little crazy after a new baby comes? True story, it's intense, and beautiful, and challenging. We call this time the fourth trimester, and it's our job to care for your whole family.
Most cultures around the world and throughout history have had a 40-day "lying in" period after a little one arrives. The new mother stays in bed, nourished and nurtured as she heals and learns about her new baby. Other women are in and out, bringing food, offering breastfeeding advice, helping her sleep, and taking care of the older children. We're supposed to have that village of other women visiting and helping every day, easing us into being a new mom.
This kind of intensive support makes so much sense, given what's happening to you during this time:
• learning major new skills (baby care and breastfeeding)
• massive hormonal shifts
• sleep deprivation
• weeks of physical healing, whether from vaginal birth or cesarean surgery
• changes in your identity and relationships
• brain rewiring on a scale not seen since adolescence.
This is a huge shift, and the postpartum doula's role is our modern way to help. Your doula will visit you in four-hour shifts, supporting whatever you need in the moment. Our doulas are professionals who are trained to help you find your own way with this baby, with no judgment, just options. We have solid, evidence-based, up-to-date information about feeding and caring for your baby, including the inside scoop on why your newborn does such funny things — these little ones can seem pretty mysterious sometimes.
You don't have to do it all. Supermoms aren't actually real. We'd love to help by taking care of you, your baby, and the whole family.
(Twins, triplets or more? Postpartum doulas are incredibly helpful. Double helpful and triple helpful, we'd say. Read our special notes for you below.)
Does "postpartum" mean I have depression?
Not at all. Everyone who has just had a baby is in their postpartum time. If you have a history of anxiety or depression, the expert care of a postpartum doula is even more valuable. But postpartum doulas are for every new parent. If you'd like, you can call us fourth trimester doulas or after baby doulas. It's all good! The label doesn't matter, but the support does.
"I didn’t know exactly what to expect from postpartum doula services, but it was an amazing experience. My husband was just home from deployment. It seems like the simplest thing, but having Jessica there to make us a big salad and then take the baby for 20 minutes so we could eat together was so great. I loved that we had those little pockets of time, just the two of us. It’s easy to get caught up in everything baby! The grocery shopping was amazing too, we just didn’t have the energy to do any of that. Even though we had family helping us a lot, they weren’t necessarily thinking about those kinds of things. Jessica also taught us a lot about caring for the baby, and she even gave me healing tips like not going up and down the stairs multiple times a day. She showed us how to do baby massage, which we used for a long time. Probably the best thing about our time together was that Jessica taught me the laid-back breastfeeding position, which they didn’t show me at all in the hospital. I was having a lot of pain when he would latch, but that position made it all go away. That position changed my life! All the knowledge and support of a postpartum doula is so impressive, it really helped us so much."
Hannah Willson, with Kelvin
"Our postpartum doula Teresa met us at the house the very first day I came home from the hospital, after my cesarean. It was awesome. I had read a million parenting books and they all had different advice, so it was great to bounce ideas and get suggestions from Teresa. She made sure that I was sleeping, and she helped keep the house so peaceful. It was really nice to have another mother there, cooking and cleaning. One day, the only thing that sounded good to me was the chicken broth they served in the hospital, and she actually found that exact broth so I could have it! It’s hard to put into words, it was so much more than just taking care of the house or holding the baby, although those things were great too. Teresa even helped me know how to bond with Adalie, and she made it possible for me to just focus on getting to know my new baby. The breastfeeding help was also incredible. She helped us make sure the latch was good, and she showed me different positions so Adalie wouldn’t put pressure on my c-section scar. My mom was staying with me after the birth too, and Teresa was great with explaining things to her and supporting us both. My mom didn’t breastfeed us, so she needed lots of information about what was normal and how to help me. I’ve been telling every one of my friends that they need a birth and postpartum doula. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend in your life."
Emily Lemmer, with Adalie
"When we were thinking about a postpartum doula, a lot of our family and friends told us, 'Oh, you don’t need that, we’ll be here for you.' I thought it sounded really helpful though, and I am so, so glad that we decided to hire Melinda! She was incredible in every way, from helping around the house to supporting me with breastfeeding. She just made me feel so comfortable, and she spoke my love language every day. Anything we needed help with, Melinda was there — and there is more than you can ever know that you’ll need help with after you have a baby! I don’t care what they say, none of your friends are going to come over and clean, and they’re not going to help you get in the bath or teach you exactly how to pump for the first time. And they’re just not there day after day, for weeks, the way a postpartum doula is there for you. Melinda made sure that my husband I got time to sleep or just be together, and to eat — she prepped all of these huge salads and made the bone broth I wanted. I had so many questions, and she never made me feel silly or embarrassed. She was like our personal baby expert, breastfeeding professional, cleaning person, friend and mentor. Family and friends have a lot of opinions, but Melinda was always so cheerful and focused on helping me figure out what I wanted. She was so gentle and just perfect. I cried on her last day. Even our family and friends agree now what a great deal we got for all the ways that she supported us. I think people just don’t know how amazing it is to have a postpartum doula. If we have another baby we’ll have a toddler and a newborn to manage — Melinda’s definitely coming back!"
Colleen Forestieri, with Eden
“My wife had postpartum depression after our daughter was born, and she was terrified with our next pregnancy that she might have to go through that again. For our second baby, we hired one of Birth Kalamazoo’s postpartum doula and she helped Danielle so much with physical things but also emotional support. Any husband would agree, sometimes your wife wants to talk and you just need to listen. But that can be extremely hard for a man, because we always want to fix things. To have another woman come in several times a week and offer support, knowledge and comfort was fantastic. My wife didn’t have any of the same problems this time around. I can’t even put a value on how much having a postpartum doula helped our family.”
John Simmons, with Gerrit
"Teresa was a huge help as our postpartum doula. We connected right off the bat, which is important because you’re allowing someone in at a vulnerable time in your life. After Lilly was born, Teresa was there to give me a lot of affirmation about how it was OK for me to feel all the things I was feeling, that a lot of new moms felt that way, and that what the baby was doing was normal for each stage. On the very first day I got home from the hospital, I told her how I was feeling overwhelmed. She helped me rest, and talked me off the ledge. I know the emotional transition would not have gone nearly as smoothly without her support in those first few weeks. Teresa had a lot of resources for any question that was on my mind. She was really supportive and easygoing, and also just intuitive about what I needed. I remember her looking at me one day and asking if I wanted to rest for a while. I’d just been thinking that I needed a nap! We worked really hard together on breastfeeding, and I know that I would not have come as far as I have with nursing and pumping without her support. She helped me get out of the house for the very first time just to walk the dogs, and we put Lilly in the Moby wrap together so I knew I was using it right. Later she helped with my first big outing to the farmer’s market stand too, until I got comfortable with how to go out alone with the baby. The healthy meals she made were also a huge help. I think if we didn’t have her, my husband and I would have just eaten out every day, which would have been expensive and not nearly as healthy. My mom was helping me too, but she was focused on the baby and being a new grandma. Teresa was just focused on me, and what I needed. She had a relaxed, outside perspective without any emotional ties — she just met us wherever we were. I was just telling a friend that having Teresa as our postpartum doula was the best thing we ever did. We already know we want her with us when we have our next baby. I hope she’ll be available!"
Tracy Ahrens, with Lilly
Exactly how do our postpartum doulas help?
Oh, these little people. They are so precious and amazing. And they sure can turn our world upside down. Your postpartum doula is focused on helping you get to know your baby, and helping you ease into to your new role.
We typically work in four-hour shifts. When we walk in the door, we'll sit down with you and figure out exactly what's needed on that particular day. Usually we start with a chat about how the night went, or how the last few days have been. That gives us a good idea of how we'll be spending our time. Some clients have a list of priorities and needs ready for us at each visit, and that's great too. Here's our postpartum doula dozen — the biggies that we help families with again and again:
Our doulas are all trained by DONA International, the leading and most respected doula organization. Part of their rigorous training includes learning all about postpartum healing, breastfeeding, and newborn behavior. If it's your first baby, you'll have 532 questions, from belly buttons and postpartum bleeding to funny baby noises and (eventually) sex. Second or later baby? Maybe just 187 questions unique to this particular little one, and specific to balancing several children at once. We've got answers and options, resources and reassurances.
This is a big change. If you're becoming a parent for the first time, it's one of the biggest transitions we go through as humans. If you've got other little ones at home, you're connecting with the new baby and transitioning in your relationship with the older children. New mothers need nurture and ecouragement, maybe more than at any other time in our lives. In addition to the logistics of your new role, let's be real, the hormones are flying. Your postpartum doula will hear you, process with you, and support you. You might feel better after a little cry on our shoulder. No judgement, no agenda, just attention to what you truly need. We're also on the lookout for signs of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (one in seven moms struggle that way). If there are any "pink flags," we can refer you to some of our favorite professionals for an assessment. You won't be alone, we'll stick by your side. We can also help bring joy and laughter into your space — it really is an amazing thing to have a new person!
You and the baby are both going to need some bath support in those early weeks. It seems like such a simple thing, but truly, it's such an incredible gift to have some help. We can help show you how to bathe your baby in a way that's cozy and comfortable for both of you — erase those pictures from your mind of a screaming, cold newborn in a hard little plastic tub. And for you, the bath can be so physically and emotionally healing. We'll make sure it happens, and we'll also teach you how to squeeze in a quick shower on the days we're not with you. Believe it or not, that can take some strategy with a little one (or several little ones) in the house.
Our doula are trained to support normal breastfeeding. Imagine having a professional in your home every day (or every few days), checking on how things are going, showing you new positions, sharing secret breastfeeding ninja tips, educating you about what to expect, and cheering on all of your work. We also know when a higher level of support is needed, and we'll get you connected to a lactation consultant if there are big challenges. After that visit, your doula will be there day after day, to help you carry out the plan. Once you've mastered nursing at the breast, we like to help you through those first few pumping sessions (breast pumps can seem ridiculously complicated when you're new and over-tired). Not breastfeeding? We support however you are feeding your baby, and we can help with bottles too.
Just like we might help you connect with a lactation consultant, we've got connections to all kind of professionals. You never know what might come up during the postpartum time, and we love tapping into our resources to help families get advanced support. Some of the referrals we've made for past clients include: counselors, pelvic floor physical therapists, chiropractors, dog trainers (for real!), lawn maintenance crews, exercise classes, sleep educators, mother's helpers, massage therapists, placenta encapsulators, doctors, and more. Every one of our doulas has access to the collective brainpower of everyone in Birth Kalamazoo, too. If your doula doesn't know the right resource, we'll work together to figure it out for you.
Partners and Grandmas.
This is a big change for everyone. We'll be checking in with your partner to see how they are adjusting, and how we can answer questions or offer support. Are they bonding with the baby? We can make suggestions and offer encouragement. You two might need a little time alone together to snuggle, talk or have a meal. Your doula can make sure that happens. As for grandmas, we love them! They often need information about breastfeeding and current newborn recommendations. After all, it's usually been awhile since they've had a baby. Our doulas are also really great at listening to how the grandma's own birth and postpartum time went, and processing how things have changed. Your own mother or mother-in-law can be an amazing support for you after the baby. We'll fill in around the edges, and reinforce your connection.
You're adjusting to this new baby, and your older children will be too! If you have other little ones in the house, we've got all kinds of tips and tricks for managing everyone at once. We'll talk with your older child about how things are going for them, and help them know positive ways they can get involved in the new household rhythm. Maybe you need a little time alone with your older child — that connection shouldn't fall by the wayside just because there's a new baby in the house. That one-on-one time with your older child (or children) is important too, and we'll make sure that you have the space to make it happen. And sometimes, we just go out with a big brother and sister and play. We'll help them run out all of their energy, so they'll be tired when we leave. A toddler that naps well or goes to bed without a fuss is heaven sent when there's a new baby in the house!
New moms should be nourished with the most delicious, comforting foods. We'll make your recipes, or we have our own time-tested favorites for postpartum families. We can cook in batches and freeze some meals for you, and we also focus on getting you through the time until we'll see you again. How about some healthy snacks and lunches that you can eat one-handed while you're nursing? You're going to need those, for sure.
There are great reasons why newborns sleep the way they do, and we can talk through all of those with you. For most parents, the challenge is that those newborn sleep patterns just don't line up at all with the way grownups sleep. So how can a doula help? We'll help you learn more about newborn sleep, and we can offer tips and tricks for finding a good rhythm with your baby. Healthy sleep habits really can start from day one. But we also want to be real — sleep whisperer secrets and hacks only go so far, because babies have really important reasons for sleeping in short stints. The first few months are rough for moms and dads, and our doulas will make sure you're catching up on your rest while we're in the house. Some days the very first thing we do is to make sure the baby is well fed, happy, and then we're off to another room with the little one while you curl up in bed for some sweet, sweet sleep. Ask another new mom — sleep is worth everything.
Shopping, cleaning, organizing.
Let us swing by the store on our way to your house. You doula isn't the same as a housekeeper, but we can also take on some of those tasks. The goal here is to give you the time and space to focus on your baby. Light cleaning might include running the vacuum (hair management for those with pets), doing the dishes, wiping down counters or washing and folding a load of baby clothes. Years ago, one of our doulas did a deep cleaning inside a client's refrigerator, and that mom still talks about it as the most amazing thing ever. Even just changing the sheets on your bed can help you feel pretty incredible in those early postpartum weeks, and we don't mind at all. Partners sometimes feel like they'll be able to handle these things, but in our experience, everyone is pretty exhausted and overwhelmed at first with a new baby in the house. We're so happy to help.
It seems so simple, but one of our favorite things to do with new moms is to just go for a walk together with you and the baby, not in the earliest days, but as you're healing, growing, and settling in. This companionship is so lovely. Remember, our doulas are experts in listening and supporting. Sunshine + exercise + nurture = bliss.
Whatever else will help you feel nurtured, supported and connected to your baby.
For real, as long as it's within our scope of practice, we'll do just about anything you need. It makes us so happy to support new families, and our #1 goal is that at the end of our time together you're feeling strong, confident and bonded with your little one.
We'd love to support you on this journey.
What about multiples?
What a wonderful adventure is ahead for you! All of the things we mentioned above are extra important when you have twins, triplets or more. We love to help families ease the intensity of those early months. In addition to the usual postpartum doula activities, we'll be focused on:
- Nurture and practical recommendations for you if the babies are in the NICU (not always needed, we've also supportted lots of healthy, full-term twins
- Helping you find a rhythm with feeding and sleeping, so everyone gets synced up
- Tips and tricks to juggle all these tiny people, including how to manage when you're home alone with the little ones
- Help getting out of the house the first few times
- Specialty help with tandem breastfeeding, pumping or bottle feeding — there are so many variations for how feeding can look with multiples
- Support to get to know each of the babies individually, and bonding with each little one... they're not just "the twins" or "the babies," they are each a unique little person
- Tandem babywearing (being hands-free with multiples is incredible)
- Support and training for the other people who are helping you, especially if they don't have prior experience with multiples
- Connections to other families with multiples
It's intense with two or more newborns at home, but we'll be right next to you with expert ideas and an extra set of hands. We love being part of a team to help you get off to a great start.
We suggest at least 100 hours of postpartum doula support for families with multiples, and some of our clients decide on a 200-hour package. Any amount of time will be helpful, of course.
Pricing for postpartum doula services
60 hours (days)
- (includes three free hours)
- Our rate is $30/hour for daytime hours, and $40/hour for overnights. We have a 20-hour minimum for postpartum doula services. Most of our clients choose a 60- or 100-hour package.
100 hours (days)
- (includes five free hours)
Why 60 or 100 hours?
When we first started offering postpartum doula services, we offered two packages — 40 and 100 hours. As our doulas worked with clients in the 40-hour package, they often found that when their time was up, things just weren't quite settled. Breastfeeding wasn't solidified. Clients weren't totally confident on their own. There was still more work to be done together. Clients were often adding on hours at the end, which was more stressful for everyone as the doulas scrambled to find time in their schedules. That's why we offer 60- and 100-hour packages now as our base recommendations. We can customize our support for however many hours you need, but 60 or 100 hours is what we see works best for most of our clients. Everything we do is with an eye toward what helps families get settled, secure and confident. Here's what 60 or 100 hours of postpartum support might look like for you.
Week 1 - 3-4 days of care (4-hour shifts)
Week 2 - 3 days
Week 3 - 3 days
Week 4 - 2 days
Week 5 - 2 days
Week 6 - 1-2 days of care
This is just an example of what 60 hours of postpartum doula care can look like, based on our experience with past clients. Every schedule is customized to your family and your needs.
Q: Should I use a postpartum doula in the early weeks if my partner is home or if I have family staying with me to help?
A: Yes! Unless your partner or other family members are experts on breastfeeding, postpartum recovery and newborn care, your doula can still be a huge help to the whole family. We also help prepare everyone for the transition when your partner returns to work or a family member goes home.
It's up to you in the end and we're happy to come for fewer hours in the first weeks. But over the years we've really found the early days are when you need the most support from your whole team to get things running smoothly. We're all laying the groundwork together for your great fourth trimester.
Week 1 - 4 days of care (4-hour shifts)
Week 2 - 3 days
Week 3 - 3 days
Week 4 - 3 days
Week 5 - 2 days
Week 6 - 2 days
Week 7 - 2 days
Week 8 - 2 days
Week 9 - 1 day
Week 10 - 1 day
Week 11 - 1 day
Week 12 - 1 day
100 hours of support allows us to provide full-spectrum fourth-trimester care. The earliest weeks are survival and "baby boot camp," and the later weeks are focused on gaining independence and confidence, getting out in your community, as well as preparing for the return to work (if that's part of your plan).
This amount of support is great for any family, but it is especially helpful if you have a history of depression or anxiety, a type A personality, or if you are having more than one baby. An investment on the front end can help your family get off to a great start.
When to get started?
You can hire a postpartum doula at any time during your pregnancy, or sometimes we're also hired after the birth (if one of the doulas has space in her schedule). Please get in touch, we'd love to connect you with a doula. If you're reaching out earlier in your pregnancy, that gives you the chance to use a payment plan while you're waiting for your little one to arrive. You can also make weekly payments while the doula is working with you, if needed. We'll help however we can, and we're always happy to brainstorm.
Mileage fees apply for families outside of the Kalamazoo/Portage area, unless we have a postpartum doula who lives near you. Clients in Plainwell, Allegan, Schoolcraft, Vicksburg, Battle Creek and Marshall can often be accommodated with no mileage fee.