I'm your smoke alarm -
What is a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula is like a smoke alarm after your bring your new baby home, but for the family.
During pregnancy you may have have heard the phrase “doula" a few times - both a birth doula and a postpartum doula. But exactly what is a postpartum doula?
I remember googling “what is a postpartum doula” while I was pregnant and I was left pretty confused. So let’s get into what a postpartum doula is.
A postpartum doula is a smoke alarm
When the smoke alarm in my kitchen is silent, I know that there isn’t a fire - I can sleep at night and I feel safe. My chattering mind can finally silence, and I know my house won't burn to the ground in a smoky, glowing pile of embers. A postpartum doula is like a smoke alarm after your bring your new baby home, but for the family. While a doula is not a therapist or a doctor, she is an expert in what “normal” looks like. A postpartum doula is a professional in knowing what is normal postpartum. When something deviates from normal, she can alert you and then connect you to whoever you need.
Some of the things postpartum doulas monitor for normalcy postpartum are vaginal bleeding, stitches, infant eating, bottle feeding, breastfeeding, sleep, and mental health in birther and partner.
Why do I need an alarm?
When considering what a postpartum doula is, let’s look at what sorts of things they will sound the alarm on (or turn off a false alarm).
The first week after I had my son, I was overly emotional, weepy, and tired. My mom was in town to help with the new baby. I had watched a movie trailer that disturbed me and was uncontrollably crying. An hour or so later when I had calmed down, she sat with me while I nursed and said, “I think something is wrong,” and went on to voice her concerns about postpartum depression.
Had a postpartum doula been there, they would have been able to explain that I was experiencing the baby blues (learn more about the baby blues on our blog). Nothing was wrong, I was experiencing something very normal that was unrelated to postpartum depression. The postpartum doula would have been able to speak peace to my mother and explain that nothing was wrong, I wasn’t depression; I just needed to rest because I’d just had a baby.
Who do I call when the alarm goes off?
One of the great things about a postpartum doula is that they have connections with in-person and virtual resources. As a professional, their job is to know all the local and online resources that will help you, which means no more wondering for you. Part of being a postpartum doula means telling you where the local mother support groups are, and more.
Do you think a postpartum doula would useful to someone you know? Can you think of a pregnant or new mom that would benefit from having a professional on their team during the postpartum journey? Send them this blog post or refer them to our home page!