As women, we spend nine months nurturing a baby as they grow inside of us, but who takes care of us and that baby right after he or she pops into the world? We can’t wait to meet our babies and by the end of the pregnancy, we are so ready! We sometimes fail to think about the huge amounts of energy we expend during labor and the recovery necessary and how we are going to need all of our precious energy for that little bundle of joy. This is when the fun starts as we now have a newborn that cries, eats, poops, and sleeps when it isn’t convenient for us. Between feedings, lack of sleep, and laundry, we have to practice self-care, or we will burn out. That’s where a baby doula comes in.
It used to be common place to have a baby nurse, or a Baby Doula, but this seems to have fallen out of fashion as more women are taking time off from work or are choosing to be stay-at-home mommies. In most countries, the use of a Baby Doula, nanny or Au pair is not only prevalent, it’s the norm! We are glad that women in the United States are seeing the benefits of professional postpartum care and getting back on the Baby Doula track!
The word “Doula” comes from the Greek word doule, meaning “handmaiden” or “woman who serves.” That is precisely the role of a postpartum Doula: to serve the mother and help her heal from the birth, as well as serve the baby. Based on the questions we get at the Motherhood Center, we know the use of a Baby Doula, and what the term even means, is still not totally understood, so we asked one of our Doulas, Sarah, a few pertinent questions to clear some things up.
Sarah is an experienced Baby Doula, who has worked with infants and their families since 2008. She adores newborns and their moms, and her specialty is to help new families find their unique stride.
Question: What is a Baby Doula?
There are different kinds of Doulas. Traditionally, a Labor Doula is trained in labor and childbirth and provides continuous support to a mother in labor. Her focus is tending to and helping the mom and supporting the relationship of the laboring couple. They might help with the birth plan, offer support during labor, answer questions, allay fears, and keep the mom comfortable while she is having the baby.
A Baby Doula is also referred to as a Postpartum Doula, Newborn Care Specialist or a Night Nanny. The title is far less important than the care and attention they give the family and the baby. A Baby Doula is a uniquely gifted caregiver that specializes in helping mom, dad, family, and baby adjust to life at home in those first grueling and precious months.
Question: When is the best time to find a Baby Doula?
The earlier the better! In fact, it’s smart to hire a Baby Doula before the baby comes, although, they will take on families at all stages of the newborn settling process. It’s easiest to begin when Mom first brings baby home because getting off on the right foot is tremendously helpful for all. This also brings peace of mind when a new family knows they have help and support when they need it most.
Question: What happens when a Baby Doula arrives?
The first thing a Baby Doula does is get to know the family and their needs. After getting to know the family, they will have a better idea of the kind of help that is needed and wanted. Then, they will get Mom settled and comfortable and start to care for the baby.
Question: What does a Baby Doula actually do?
Every family has different needs, so there’s not a one size fits all approach. The task of taking care of a newborn can be overwhelming, and a Baby Doula is there to help alleviate that stress. For instance, some families want help preparing meals while others don’t. But generally, a Baby Doula will help with:
- Feeding baby
- Bringing baby to Mom for feeding
- Providing breastfeeding support
- Changing diapers
- Bathing baby
- Burping baby
- Helping with laundry
- Teaching and utilizing various soothing and swaddling techniques
- Organizing the nursery in a way that makes sense
- Ensuring mom and dad get plenty of rest
A Baby Doula will teach parents to understand the various cries of a newborn, so new families will understand what their baby is saying.
A Baby Doula also has perfected the fine art of development and play with a newborn. Teaching parents how to play and engage their baby is crucial for bonding and for baby to learn. Showing parents which toys and activities are age-appropriate is a big part of what a Baby Doula does.
How long you decide to keep your Baby Doula is up to the family. Sometimes they are engaged for a couple of days and sometimes a few months, but no matter how long you need your Baby Doula for support when baby first comes home, you will have peace of mind knowing that you are doing the right thing for yourself, your family, and your baby.
Motherhood Center works with trained Baby Doulas that are hand selected to help you as you and your family transition into your new life. For more information, or to meet one of our Baby Doulas, contact us and we will be happy to match you with the perfect Baby Doula for your new family!