What does a postnatal doula do?
A postnatal doula is someone who supports a new mother/father/parent post-birth, generally in the early days, weeks and months post-birth, but some families seek support for longer too.
Mindful Birth Support Packages include a 1 hour postnatal doula session on Zoom which can be booked anytime in the 4th trimester, but what exactly do postnatal doulas do?
There for you throughout recovery
How someone recovers from birth can depend on a multitude of factors- how the birth happened, how they were emotionally and physically supported throughout and what happened in the moments and hours after the birth too. How someone recovers emotionally and physically from birth can greatly impact how they move into parenthood and in some cases, the rest of their lives.
In many cultures, the postnatal recovery period is still known to be sacred. Friends, family and neighbours descend to hold the parents and help in any way that they can. In much of western modern day society, it’s a period to ‘get through’ and ‘bounce back’ as soon as possible. Doula’s step into this supporting role, and become that person to lean on in many ways:
- To listen to you: Post birth, friends and family generally want to see the baby and you or they may feel that talking about the birth in detail is intrusive or even difficult if they have their own experience which is different to yours for any reason. However, it is critical for emotional recovery to have space to talk about your experience with someone who does not have any prejudice or judgment. A listening ear from a doula in those early weeks can lighten an emotional load to make space for all of the other parenthood emotions which are going to settle in. That’s for any type of emotion too- celebratory, upset, relief, guilt and everything in-between. If there is a need to talk to someone further about your care during the birth, a doula can signpost you to do that too.
- To nourish you: Whether a doula cooks the food, buys the food or suggests food ideas, it will all be to aid healing, boost energy levels and support lactation if you are breastfeeding. Nutrition is one of the 1st things to slip as a new parent- grab and go foods are just not enough to aid recovery and keep energy levels to where they need to be.
- To answer your questions: This could be recovery related and physical or emotional i.e. perhaps after a planned or unplanned abdominal birth or assisted birth, about breastmilk production or hormonal changes. Or it could be baby related ie. feeding, winding, holding, settling, changing baby, slings and carriers… these things are sometimes easier to learn once you have a real life baby to care for!
- To signpost you: Postnatal doula’s are like walking directories. We can direct you to recommended IBCLC’s, Osteopaths, local social groups and much more.
- To let you rest and reset: If you hire a doula to come to your home, they will give you the opportunity to sleep, rest, shower… do whatever you need to do to feel well that day.
Doula’s love doing what they do. It is not seen as a standard job or an occupation to them- they do it for a reason and some would say they get as much from the role emotionally as the parents do as it is very rewarding to see families gain confidence and flourish.
The 1 hour session included in the Mindful Birth Support Packages will give you time to talk through your birth and ask questions (it’s helpful if you complete the pre-session form to make the most of the time), and you are welcome to book further sessions on Zoom with your doula if you would like to.
If you are thinking about booking a postnatal doula do come to your home, you can expect to pay between £18-£30 per hour depending on where you are in the country, and it would be normal for a doula to ask you to book a minimum number of hours (between 10-20) to secure their time and support as they have the challenge of scheduling their diaries to support families and want to make sure that they are available for someone who would like to book them.
The Doula Directory and Doula UK are two places where you can search for your local doula. It’s a good idea to speak to 2-3 to see who you connect with the best. Interviews are completely normal and are an important step.
In terms of timings, it’s very individual as to when a doula could start supporting you. It could be from day 1, it could be from when a partner goes back to work. It’s best to talk this through at the interview stage with your local doulas.
There are also schemes such as Doulas Without Borders which offer support to those who cannot financially access it, and do always contact your local doulas to find out what they can offer you. Sometimes newly trained doulas will offer discounted rates to attain their accreditation, and remember- the support quality isn’t always about numbers of years of experience, it’s about someone being there to hold you and support you.
We are here for you every step of the way with our online Parent Hub subscription and award-winning antenatal hypnobirthing courses:
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