What do postnatal doulas do?
Postnatal doulas give emotional and practical support to families with a new baby. They will also signpost families to helpful resources and give up to date and evidence based information on topics of the family's choice within the postnatal doula's knowledge base. As a result, postnatal doulas can build confidence in empowering couples to observe and understand their baby, trust in their parenting instincts and support how they choose to feed their baby.
Emotionally, they can: reflect on a couple's birth experience and explore a mother or birthing person's feelings about what she/they have just experienced, listen to couples as they voice their thoughts about their baby's needs, be alongside couples as they talk through their emotions and feelings during their transition to parenthood, direct couples to sources of further emotional and mental health support.
Practically, they can: help a couple feel on top of household management, take away the stress of getting behind on tasks, preserve a couple's familymoon so they can concentrate on being with their baby, allow a mother/birthing person space and time to recover by looking after her/their baby for a while, nourish a mother/birthing person with food and hydration, provide physical comfort to a mother/birthing person who may be suffering from postnatal pain or discomfort.
Postnatal doulas can offer daytime sessions, nighttime or around the clock support.
Why are postnatal doulas important?
Gestational parents are being sent home from hospital sooner than ever. A couple may return home less than 24 hours after their baby's birth and have limited or no support waiting for them. With cuts in community midwifery services, a mother/birthing person may find they have little contact with essential support and care. Extended family may not be close for a variety of reasons and couples can find themselves increasingly alone with a newborn. The saying 'babies don't come with a manual' can ring loud and clear for many new families. Postnatal doulas can help families navigate their way through a myriad of conflicting advice and information - enabling families to feel confident in their choices.
Postnatal doulas can be of particular benefit to families having multiple babies, premature babies, multip families, single parent families and those with special needs and disabilities/differently abled.
What, statistically are the benefits of having a postnatal doula?
With breastfeeding at 6 weeks: 96.4% women who gave birth supported by a doula initiated breastfeeding, and of those 81.4% were still exclusively feeding at 6 weeks (as compared to the national figures of 73.9% and 47.2%).
In one study, the results showed that postnatal doulas facilitate maternal responsiveness and competence in 11 different areas including: self-care and infant care.
Some studies suggest postnatal depression may be minimized or prevented.
Who can become one?
Anyone with an interest in supporting families with a new baby, who can offer compassion, kindness, patience, emotional and practical support.
How do postnatal doulas differ from maternity nurses or mother's helps?
Maternity nurses differ in that they provide around the clock babycare and advice on feeding the baby, bathing, sleeping, clothing, establishing routines and physically performing all of these tasks as required. They often live in with the family.
Mother's helps entertain other children and help out with household tasks/chores, particularly those that relate to the children in the household.
Why become a postnatal doula?
Being a postnatal doula is a rewarding career. You can make your practice what you want and choose the hours you want to work. Families often have limited support after a baby is born and can really find an extra pair of hands and some guidance most beneficial, especially from a skilled doula who can be objective and focused on the family.