Any new parent will tell you that one of the most challenging events in life is bringing home a new baby. Becoming a parent for the first time is a joyous experience, but also one that is filled with a lot of overwhelming emotions, anxiety and newness that many families, even the most experienced, can use a helping hand with.
Moms that go through a cesarean section or otherwise particularly traumatic childbirth, have postpartum complications, a longer than usual recovery time, or an a-typical household may benefit from the assistance of a postpartum doula when they bring their newest member of the family home from the hospital.
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What Services Does a Doula Provide?
A doula is a specially trained person, usually a woman, that provides a wide range of services to the entire family from giving information on infant feedings, advice on recovery from child birth, bonding with your baby, how to care for and sooth the infant, and transitioning into a routine. The main goal of the doula is to help mom and dad feel confident in their role as parents of the new baby and help the entire family adjust. Doulas can help with:
- Breastfeeding and lactation support
- Postpartum recovery
- Newborn care such as diapering, bathing, feeding, comforting, night time care
- Preparing meals
- Caring for siblings
A Doula is different from a baby nurse or a night time nurse because a doula focuses on the family while a baby nurse focuses on just the baby’s needs. Baby Nurses are useful if you have an infant that needs special care and undivided attention. Night time nurses are nurses that specifically care for your baby overnight and do not attend to anyone’s needs but the baby’s and are typically given their own room to be in while they listen for the baby over night while the rest of the family is asleep.
Baby Nurses are useful if you have an infant that needs special care and undivided attention. Night time nurses are nurses that specifically care for your baby overnight and do not attend to anyone’s needs but the baby’s and are typically given their own room to be in while they listen for the baby over night while the rest of the family is asleep.
Doula’s take more of a teaching approach where they encourage the entire family to be hands on with the new baby and bond with each other through the transition process. Doula’s act more of a guide to help the family learn how to assimilate to having a baby in the house and what that means for everyone’s new role as a parent or sibling now.
Doula’s also do not typically live in the home and are not considered Nanny’s. They can often have multiple clients and work on an hourly or daily rate.
What Does a Postpartum Doula Cost?
Postpartum Doula’s vary in cost; however, depending on experience and schooling, most charge anywhere from $15-$50 dollars per hour. Some also may charge daily fees, overnight fees, and emergency or on call fees as well that are separate charges. Most doulas require a minimum number of hours per visit or week for their services and will have you sign a contractual agreement for liability purposes.
Costs for doula’s will vary geographically and most doula care will need to be paid for directly by the client; however, there is growing third party insurance reimbursement for postpartum support. There are also postpartum doula programs that may have access to grant funding.
How to Find a Doula
Doulas are a nonmedical professional meaning that they are not a medical degree profession so finding a reputable one isn’t as easy as you may think because anyone can claim to be one. DONA international is the world’s first, largest and leading doula certifying organization and was created in 1992. This organization has certified more than 12,000 international doulas in more than 50 countries according to their website.
Their offices are in Chicago Illinois. Doula’s that go through training at DONA are encouraged to participate in continuing education that is evidence based and upholds international high quality standards. DONA is also a not for profit organization which means that they are in it for you and your family, not to make money off certifications of doulas or licensures.
There are also a few other agencies such as Prodoula located in Baltimore and offers workshops around the country; as well as, Birtharts International that certifies Doulas and midwives.
If you do a google search for “How to find a doula” you will beable to locate several sites that will allow you to enter your zip code and search for people registered as doulas near you. Most of the time, you will find woman that are registered as owning their own doula and birthing services. You can read reviews, set up interviews, and verify credentials before hiring a postpartum doula.
Also, make sure to ask and take to heart the opinion of your obstetrician or midwife, they may not be a 100% advocate of a doula as a medical professional, but they can give you a personal opinion of some people in your community that have good reputations.
You will also want to make sure that your doula has certifications in CPR by the American Red Cross, preferably has educational background in nursing, childcare, pregnancy, behavioral health, or lactation. Doulas should also have a resume prepared with references and success stories ready for review.
Questions to Ask a Postpartum Doula
Some postpartum Doulas are employed by agencies while others offer services as independent contractors. No matter the method you use to find a postpartum doula, you want to make sure that the person you choose to help you through the most important transition period of your life is highly qualified and trustworthy. Here are some questions that you should ask every potential doula that you interview:
- What is your educational background? (Check with the schools the doula mentions to verify, if she mentions certification, check with those organizations.)
- Have you ever had a criminal background check? Would you submit to one?
- Are you certified in infant CPR?
- Are you current on your vaccinations and boosters?
- Have you had a recent TB test?
- What is your experience as a postpartum doula?
- What is your parenting philosophy?
- What is your philosophy about supporting women postpartum?
- What are your thoughts on breastfeeding?
- What role do you see yourself playing to support me in my postpartum period?
- What role do you NOT see yourself playing?
- What are you NOT willing to do to support me/us/my family?
- How soon after birth do your services begin?
- When do your services end?
- Do you work with any backup doulas for times you are not available?
- What is your current availability?
- Do you do overnights, on calls, weekends, etc.?
- What are your fees?
- Do you require a deposit to guarantee services?
- Do you require a minimum number of hours booked weekly/daily?
- Can we call you with questions when you are not at our home?
Make sure that in the days and weeks leading up to the interviews that you will schedule with potential Doulas that you keep a notebook and pen handy, or a smart device nearby so you can jot down or record any other questions you think of. You should be able to trust this person to come into your home and interact with your family on an intimate level, so making sure your values and beliefs are somewhat in line with this person’s will be very important for a positive outcome and experience.
Note: If you are interested in becoming a Doula check out the International Doula Institute for more information.