What is a Postnatal Doula?
The word “doula” is a little bit strange for a lot of people. It is a new word for most, and one that does not say very much about what it means. It can seem a bit hippy, and to be honest it put me off the idea for a while…!
But now I know different, and I am here to show you why everybody deserves a postnatal doula.
What does the word “doula” mean?
The word “doula” is derived from a Greek word, originally meaning “woman who serves”, “woman’s servant”, “helper” or “caregiver”. The Cambridge dictionary definition is a person, usually a woman, who is not medically trained but who gives help and support to a woman during pregnancy and during and after the birth of her baby.
The word “postnatal”, or “postpartum” means a period of time after the birth of a baby. Usually this is defined as the first six weeks after the birth of a baby. But there are a lot of physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that occur during the first 6 months or more after birth. So, from here onwards we will call the postnatal period an unspecified, and individual, period of time. For some people they might want help in the first few weeks, for others they may need some support for the first 9-12 months.
Why do you need a postnatal doula?
So many of us are so far away from our families in this modern world, often separated by a plane ride, or a long car journey. We know from our experience with the Covid-19 pandemic that it is not an easy situation right now, being far away from family.
In the early days with baby, the assistance of somebody who has experienced the early days with a little one is invaluable. To help you learn the role, to offer advice if needed, to help you find confidence. If you do not have access to family or friends to rely on for this support, or whether you want some extra help, a postnatal doula might be just what you need.
Considering a doula for the early postnatal days can be a good idea. Having an extra pair of hands in the early days, extra ears to hear you story or your troubles and to provide reassurance. A postnatal doula helps your physical and mental recovery from birth. A doula can help you ease into your new role with more emotional and practical advice and support.
Here are 7 important reasons ways a postnatal doula can help you:
#1 A postnatal doula can help you care for baby
We are birth and baby experts. Generally, a postnatal doula has first-hand experience with their own children, but we have always studied hard to understand babies and parents needs.
Perhaps you have no idea how to look after a baby, to bathe them, to soothe them. Maybe you need a helping hand or a reminder that you know what baby needs.
A postnatal doula can offer you general baby care assistance to help you feel more confident in looking after you baby. Perhaps baby does not like being put down and always wants to be help? A postnatal doula can give you tips and techniques to help, from babywearing to swaddling, winding to feeding positioning. Maybe you and baby need some feeding assistance? We can provide feeding support and point you in the direction of qualified infant feeding support if required.
#2 A Postnatal Doula Offers Physical, Emotional and Practical Support
Certainly, a postnatal doula provides a listening ear. If you want to talk about the birth of your baby or any concerns you may have then they will sit back and let you talk. If it is just company and chatter that you need, or if you are after reassurance and sympathy, we’ve got empathy in spades.
A postnatal doula can be anything you want them to be. Whether it is doing practical tasks or emotional support, whatever you need on the day we can adjust to your needs. Getting on top of the washing, changing the sheets, making a list appointments and important dates like bin days so that nobody forgets. Fetching you snacks, getting you water, holding baby so that you can shower or go to the loo! Helping you get out the house, making sure the changing bag is topped up. Help you soothe, calm and hold your baby or doing it for you after a long day.
#3 A postnatal doula can feed you!
If you need feeding, then we can prepare nutritious meals. Whether it is popping something in the oven ready to have once we leave or preparing meals for the freezer for days to come. We can ensure that you have snacks and drinks prepared and to hand whilst you feed your baby. And we never say no to cuddles with the little one whilst you eat! Keeping your energy levels up can help you look after your baby, and heal faster, and that is the aim.
#4 A postnatal doula can help you heal faster
By providing practical support in caring for baby it allows you a little time for yourself. You can take time to rest, shower, bath, or have time to yourself while your baby is being cared for. This will help your physical as well as mental recovery.
Maybe you need help with light housework tasks. General tidying, vacuuming, loading dishwasher, washing can be done whilst you rest or tend to baby. Maybe you have had a c-section or difficult delivery, or perhaps you just want to look after yourself.
Having somebody to delegate tasks to can make your recovery much easier.
#5 A postnatal doula can help with older children too.
Maybe this is your second baby, or even your third or forth. Perhaps you might need some help looking after older children, either while you tend to baby or because you are physically recovering from birth. We can provide games, stories, and activities for older ones. Perhaps we can take them to the park or out for a walk. Or we can look after little one while you spend some time with your older children. Taking some one-to-one time with older children can help their transition into new family life and is something to consider.
#6 A postnatal doula can help you figure out your parenting style
By providing practical and emotional support, you can find your own way of doing things. We aren’t about setting a routine, but rather helping you consider your options. When you are surviving on adrenaline and lack of sleep in the first few weeks it is impossible to plan and consider your style of parenting and what that means. Having somebody around to take the strain away from you, there is more brain space to consider what is right for your family.
Postnatal doulas offer non-judgemental advice. Supporting your choices by helping you see the options available to you. If you would like us to make suggestions to help you, based on our experience and the evidence available then we will. If not, we will support you in finding what works for your family.
#7 A Postnatal Doula Helps YOU Sleep!
A lot of parenting in the early days involves a lot of time worrying how your baby is sleeping. We know that newborn babies tend to sleep a lot, but in short stretches, and often only on you. And catching some sleep in those short windows when baby sleeps is quite difficult. It is hard to go to sleep on demand!
A postnatal doula can look after your baby while you catch up on a block of sleep. We can take the baby out for a walk to allow you some space to drift off without pressure. A nap during the day can help you deal with a disturbed night better. But sleeping when the baby sleeps just isn’t that easy!