By now, most pregnant people and new parents are familiar with the concept of a doula—a trained non-medical professional who provides emotional, mental, physical and informational support during pregnancy and birth. Birth doulas are becoming more and more common around the country—and in some states, insurance and Medicaid (and even Walmart!) are covering their fees.
But have you ever heard of a doula just for the time after birth? A postpartum doula specializes in the postpartum period, specifically the fourth trimester (otherwise known as the first three months after birth). They are experts in this intense and often overlooked time of life and can provide you with all kinds of support, information and advice as you transition into parenthood. Although many postpartum doulas support families in person, virtual postpartum care is becoming a great option, too, and is ideal for families who experience pregnancy complications or a premature birth/NICU stay.
Here’s five reasons why you should consider hiring a postpartum doula.
1.Because you matter: After birth, there is so much attention on the baby, especially if your new little one has been in the NICU and/or is medically-fragile. And we get it—these tiny people are incredibly precious. But you, the person who just gave birth, are, too. You deserve just as much attention and care, if not more—especially as you recover from pregnancy and birth and learn to parent. Postpartum doulas do provide advice and assistance with baby care, but their primary job is to care for YOU and your needs. That can be invaluable, especially for families who have had high-risk or intense experiences and trauma in pregnancy, birth, or early infancy.
2. Feeding support: Whether you’re feeding at the breast, pumping, or using bottles and formula, a postpartum doula can help you have a great feeding relationship with your new little one (or ones, if you have multiples!). They have training in lactation and can assist with all sorts of breastfeeding questions, from latch to pumping schedules.
3. Emotional and mental support: Doulas are experts in emotional and mental support for new parents. That means hearing you, seeing you, and helping you navigate the big feelings that come with the transition to parenthood. Your postpartum doula can help you process your birth story, suggest strategies for self-care, connect you with mental health resources and much more. A doula is a non-judgmental sounding board—one part friend, one part expert, and 100% compassionate.
4. Planning and logistics: Postpartum doulas have all of the tips and advice on how to make life with a newborn easier. If you hire one before birth, they can be invaluable in terms of helping you plan for the postpartum time—a doula will help you think through everything you need to rest and thrive after you give birth, with advice and suggestions tailored to your personality and situation. Think food, life admin and household care, personal wellness, and more. And they’re just as helpful once baby is here, too, as their assistance with managing and logistics can be become even more vital now that there’s a baby around.
5. Trusted resources and recommendations: To put it plainly, postpartum doulas know what’s up. They’ve got intel into everything you’re wondering about—from online NICU support groups to whether or not the famous Snoo bassinet really works to the email address for an IBCLC who sees people virtually. Their resources and recommendations are honed with time and experience. So you can spend less time on Google or posting in all of those mama Facebook groups—just text your doula. She definitely knows the answer!
Carrie Murphy is a full-spectrum doula, writer, mother and the digital content manager at Major Care. Major Care is a telehealth company solving America’s postpartum care gap by blending the power of guided learning with the comfort of virtual doula support. Major Care connects new parents with 24/7 virtual postpartum doulas to help them through the fourth trimester.