For many mothers, the moment your child is first placed in your arms is irreplaceable. You're overcome with love and happiness. But there may be another feeling in the back of your mind as well, something along the lines of "Oh no, now what do I do?" If you'd like some help navigating the transition to life with a new baby, then a postpartum doula may be the right choice for you. So what is a postpartum doula, and how do they help new moms?
In general, a postpartum doula helps a mom adjust to her life with a newborn baby. For instance, a postpartum doula may help a new mother get the hang of breastfeeding, bond with her new baby, and recover from the strain of giving birth, according to the American Pregnancy Association (APA). Basically, the doula helps lighten the load so the mother can focus on what's important: healing her body and caring for her newborn. With this in mind, a postpartum doula may help out with anything from meal preparation to errands to basic newborn care, as further noted by the APA. The doula helps support the entire family as everyone adjusts the the addition of a newborn.
It's important to understand that a postpartum doula's role goes far beyond that of a nurse, nanny, or personal assistant. Because so many parents face the challenge of caring for a newborn far from the support of friends and family, postpartum doulas can help fill the gap. As noted by DONA International, a postpartum doula may provide the emotional support to help new mothers deal with this major life transition through careful listening and guidance. At a time when many women feel vulnerable and at risk of postpartum depression, this level of emotional support can be vital. (Although having an extra set of hands to change diapers never hurts, either.)
If you would like to look into the services of a postpartum doula, then you have several things to consider. First you will need to review the doulas available in your area from a service such as Doula Match. Next, consider your schedule. Would you like assistance for a few hours every weekday, for instance, or would an overnight stay once a week be more helpful? Last (but not least) is the question of cost. According to Parents, the average price of a postpartum doula ranges from $25 to $35 an hour depending on your location and level of need. However, this may be negotiable, and you could even consider getting a doula-in-training for a reduced fee, as further explained in Parents. Although your insurance likely won't cover the cost of a doula (it never huts to check anyway), you may consider asking for a postpartum doula gift certificate for your baby shower. This is ultimately the gift of time, rest, and peace of mind for a new mom: what could be better?