Postpartum Doulas Help New Families Transition by Molly Rouse, PCD (DONA), MAA
American society tells new parents to resume their lives as quickly as possible after birth.
The disconnect between this so-called ideal and reality leaves many new mothers and fathers feeling lost, sad, and alone during what should be a joyous transition to parenthood. Doulas seek to change this.
The Greek word doula means a woman who serves. There are two types: birth and postpartum. Birth doulas offer emotional support, encouragement, and wisdom throughout labor and birth. Postpartum doulas offer support after birth during the transformation that a new baby brings to a family. Both perform non-medical tasks and do not replace physicians or midwives.
Postpartum doulas visit the home during the first three months of a baby’s life to educate and assist new families. Research shows that postpartum support benefits women in the following ways:
Greater breastfeeding success
Less postpartum depression
Lower incidence of abuse (www.dona.org).
To help get parenting and a young life off to a good start, postpartum doulas will provide many services including:
Offer recent evidence-based newborn care and parenting information.
- Childcare while mom showers or naps.
- Help for older siblings adjusting to a new baby’s presence.
- Listen to a birth story.
- Cook meals.
- Do laundry.
Doulas are trained to screen for postpartum mood disorders and have trusted referrals in the local community should a family need any other services providers—from housekeepers to psychiatrists.
Postpartum doulas are also breastfeeding community educators. Sadly, many women do not breastfeed often because it is unfamiliar, they don have community support, or it may hurt. Postpartum doulas assist with all of these issues. If a problem proves serious, doulas can make referrals to lactation specialists.
In the first days of a new life, the sort of support that doulas offer can have a profound impact. Postpartum doulas work hard to make the world a better place, one family at a time.
To learn more, visit WNC’s local doula association website at www.wncdoulas.com.