What is a Postpartum Doula?
Postpartum Doulas provide support during the postpartum period
or the 4th trimester.
In traditional societies, women and men grow up around birth, breastfeeding, infants and children. After giving birth, women are surrounded by caring family members who have a great deal of experience and wisdom to offer. This kind of help is rarely available to new parents in many societies today. The doula's support is intended to fill the gaps left by our postpartum traditions, which usually include only medical procedures, occasional checkups and the purchase of baby-related paraphernalia. The doula's education, quiet support and guidance are a manifestation of traditional postpartum support that many cultures are missing.
What do postpartum doulas provide after the birth?
The transition into new parenthood can be vulnerable, and postpartum doulas are experts in emotional support, active listening and encouraging new moms and dads to follow their own hearts. Empathy, a hug or even a good laugh together can do so much for a new parent! Doulas can also provide general birth debriefing and birth closure if one experienced a traumatic birth experience.
Evidence-Based Information and Support
Postpartum doulas are trained to understand what new babies – and new mothers – truly need. The doula helps with soothing techniques, offers breastfeeding or bottle feeding support, and explains normal newborn behavior.
It’s all hands on deck with a new baby, and postpartum doulas can help the days go by more smoothly by helping with the laundry, doing the dishes, preparing some nutritious meals, some light house cleaning, or do errands.
Partner and Sibling Support
A new baby means transition for everyone, including parents, grandparents and little brothers and sisters. Postpartum doulas understand what everyone needs, and part of their role is to help the entire family adjust and settle in.
The birth of each baby has a long-lasting impact on the physical and mental health of the mother, baby and family. The way in which the woman, baby, partner and family transition into a new unit have a long-lasting impact on their physical and emotional health.
There are many ways in which the doula's support benefits fathers. Research has proven that mothers and babies have an easier transition with support. However, fathers experience great life transitions of their own at this time and may not be able to be the primary provider of the transitional support their families need. Fathers are redefining their roles; they may also be adjusting to sleep deprivation, financial pressures and other stressors, as well.
The doula's support is for the father as much as the mother or children. A sympathetic ear, source of encouragement, gentle educator and friend is something from which we could all benefit throughout our lives. The postpartum doula provides all of these during this defining life experience.
The doula can also help the father to learn the art of mothering the mother, increasing chances for success in areas such as breastfeeding and reduction of postpartum depression. Rather than being told to help out, partners and other family members benefit from concrete instruction and role-modeling on how to support a woman during the weeks after birth.
The importance of the father's involvement and support during the weeks following birth cannot be overstated. During this time he truly becomes a parent, getting to know this tiny, yet complete, person who has entered his family. The doula can ease this introduction, helping the father to discover all he can about his baby, as well as develop his own concept of himself as a parent. In addition, the doula's support can help parents to adjust their own relationship, moving forward to enhance their previous life together as a couple who are now parents.
The role of the doula is to help the family experience success. She does this with quiet, reassuring support for all family members. By dedicating herself to the family in this way, the doula validates and enhances the parents' intuitive ability to nurture and encourages them to become confident to develop and implement their own parenting style. -From DONA International website