I am a Birth and Postnatal Doula. Today I want to share with you what Postnatal Doulas do.
Postnatal Doulas usually start working with families in the first few weeks/months after birth. Some Postnatal Doulas do work with families with older babies too, but as one told me, if you are supporting a family for more than 3 months, you need to reflect if your job was well done or if it was that you have become dependent on the regular income by supporting one family for 6months-1year, as we as Doulas are to support women and their families to become independent and not dependent on us. If a mother felt the need to have continuous support beyond 3 months it is for us as Doulas to sign post her to alternative child care support. I know many would have something to say about this, but this was my learning in my rise as a Doula. I do also understand that there maybe some exceptions but really, I have supported and watch a family of multiples and a blind family wave me good bye in a matter of weeks as my services was no longer needed, I met all their needs as written out on my agreement and was confident they was going to be great.
Sometimes Postnatal Doulas are booked antenatally, sometimes only when a family find they are struggling or feel the need for extra support. The amount of time a Postnatal Doula spends with a family varies, from the initial 6-8 weeks, to years for some. I have kept in contact with a few of my previous clients after ending our agreement, the longest being a couple years, not paid and not as a Doula, we became distance friends, as some clients you naturally keep in contact with on nurture grounds, but it is important to know, not every client wants you to keep in contact, they may have only wanted you to fill your job role, and for a Doula, she must also consider her self-care and understand 20 or more extra friends to keep up with can burn her out and leave little time for her own private life. As a Doula we have to be mindful that if becoming a friend means providing services for free, then you’re cutting yourself short. This is why it is important to have boundaries in place. Yes, we do our job from our hearts but this is our job and I don’t see no Accountant, Banker, Actor, Midwife or Doctor going into work for free.
Just like Birth Doulas, Postnatally Doulas provide emotional, practical and informational support to their clients.
The practical support varies hugely from Doula to Doula but what remains the same is that we are there to support our clients to help them get off to the best start to parenting and bonding with their babies in the safest way possible while ensuring we don’t take control but allow the mother and father to take the lead and receive all the emotional, physical and educational support they need. We do what is within reason, which is highlighted on our agreement forms.
Here a few things a Postnatal Doula may do:
• Provide safe infant feeding support,
• Watch baby while parents catch up on sleep,
• Provide support with healing after birth,
• Listen to your birth story and help you have greater understanding of your experience,
• Light house domestic duties to allow parents time to bond with their babies and help them to relax.
• Aromatherapy and/or postnatal massage for mother to help her to relax and release any unwanted tension she may be experiencing,
• Answers countless questions and/ or sign- post you to evidence based information to ensure you make informed choices,
• Provide a listening, non-judgemental, non-bias ear,
• Make light meals and snacks for you and your family,
• Demonstrate and observe baby bath, babywearing, nappy change etc,
• Provide continuous encouragement and reassurance,
• Support you with your first day taking baby out the house,
• Help with referrals and/or booking appointments,
• Provide night support,
• Help with older siblings,
and the list goes on.
Some Doulas may work with families every day for a few hours, some may work every other day or a few times per week, this is something which clients and Doulas discuss when booking.
Our role is to support parents to become confident, independent and capable, once that is done, our job is, a job well done.
Do Postnatal Doulas work with families long term:
The longest I have worked with a family is 12 weeks, I started with frequent visits after birth and then slowly reduce my hours per week as agreed with my client. Gradually reducing my hours helps my clients to be reassured that they are capable parenting their babies without me.
If families feel the need for long term support it is for me to sign-post my clients to alternative support, like a nanny, maternity nurse, childminders etc…. I like these links which I share with my clients to help them decide what alternative support will be best suitable for their family.
Which child care is suitable for you: https://www.mumsnet.com/babies/childcare
What are the benefits of having a Postnatal Doula:
- Increased likelihood of successfully establishing breastfeeding & breastfeeding beyond 6 weeks.
- Lower incidence of postnatal depression.
Here you will find evidence on the benefits of postnatal doulas:
Learn more about Doula Ruth Dennison from 1-2-1 Doula & Breastfeeding Support Ltd here. You never know when a Doula may be just what your family needs.
Look out for Gift Vouchers which will soon be available in 1-2-1 Doula’s online shop. Every family deserves a doula.
If you have noticed, I have attached a vlog version of the blog which I typed out. I had someone contact me asking if I could put audio over my blogs as they have enjoyed reading my blogs for the last few months, but due to experiencing sight problems, it has become quite difficult for them to continue to read my blogs. They even took their time out to find me a few links to help me make it happen, “what an angel”. I have decided to do this video version of my blog in the mean time and will be aiming to have audio set up onto my website very soon.
Thank you for reading.