Postpartum doulas—caregivers trained to ‘mother the mother’ after birth— are becoming a popular solution to those frenzied first few weeks with a newborn. Wondering if they’re worth the investment? Read on.
Postpartum traditions around the globe tend to be remarkably more mom-friendly than they are in the US—new moms in Latin American culture, for example, spend the first 40 days after birth healing and resting while her female family members feed and bathe her, clean the house, and take care of the child. In the US, moms often feel the pressure to get back up on their feet much sooner—in their pre-baby jeans, nonetheless. Enter the postpartum doula: for an hourly rate, you can have a healing, helping hand come to your house and make nourishing meals, teach you the art of a good swaddle, or simply give you the chance to nap.
We chatted with Anna Rodney, Owner and Founder of Chicago Family Doulas, about what you can expect before hiring one.
It’s a No Judgement Zone
“There’s this big misconception that a doula will come in and push you to do things a certain way—but really a doula may be the only person in your life that doesn’t have an opinion or judgement. This is about supporting the mom in her choices, following her lead, and helping her find her sense of self,” says Rodney.
They’re There For You, First
Postpartum doulas are trained to take care of the mama, whether that means drawing a sitz bath or caring for a cesarean incision, helping the mom learn to breastfeed, or even showing mom’s partner how to work out the kinks in her back from a long labor. If helping the mama means helping the baby, a postpartum doula is ready to jump in with diapering, swaddling, and soothing baby, too.
They Offer Sweet, Sweet Reassurance
Whether it’s taking a peek at that funky looking diaper (normal!) or listening to the strange snorty noise your newborn is making (normal!), doulas are much more reassuring—and knowledgable—than a Google search as you navigate all the ‘new’ that comes with having a newborn, says Rodney.
You Can Hand Off the Housework
“Postpartum doulas can help with all the little things that pile up around the house,” says Rodney. They may pop baby in a body sling while they straighten up, turn leftover fridge contents into a soup, wash and fold all those new gifts and itty bitty baby clothes—all while you take a much needed nap.
It’s an Investment—But You Make the Terms
Doulas are usually paid out of pocket by the hour (there’s a range—Rodney’s doulas charge between $33-40 an hour), but they can come for as little or as long of a time as you like. “Some women have them there for only five hours, others have them there seven days a week and overnights, too,” she says.
Interested in finding a postpartum doula? A referral is your best bet (check in with your ob-gyn, new mom friends, and local birth class teachers for a recommendation). Certifications aren’t required to work as a doula, but they show your doula has proven her knowledge and abilities—CAPPA and DONA International are two of the most popular certifying organizations, and you can search for a doula in your city through their sites.