What Is A Postpartum Doula?

Written by: BeHerVillage Team
Posted: April 21, 2024

A postpartum doula can help families step into parenthood feeling supported and empowered


Welcoming a new baby can be equal parts joyful, exciting, nerve wracking and stressful. No matter how much you prepare, there is a whirlwind of adjustment that happens after you bring your new baby home. Even with feelings of happiness and love, many new moms experience challenges in those early days and weeks. From feeding the baby (and herself), sleep deprivation, taking care of the home, balancing the hormones and emotions, etc. – adjusting to a brand new baby can be a whole job on its own. So many new moms are left alone to take on this task– their family may be far away, close by but have to work, or– family is close by but a new moms isn’t comfortable asking for or receiving help from them. This is where a postpartum doula comes in, offering much-needed support to new families as they navigate this exciting yet demanding phase. 


What Does A Postpartum Doula Do?


A postpartum doula is a trained professional who provides holistic support to new mothers and their families after giving birth. Unlike medical professionals, their role centers around non-medical care and support. Their focus is on helping the mom and family establish a sense of routine and normalcy, helping the family get much needed sleep, ensuring the mom is getting her own needs met, helping the baby eat and sleep if that’s what mom needs, and taking care of household priorities.
  • Emotional Support: Offering a listening ear and emotional reassurance to help moms process their birth experience and the changes in their new life. Sometimes this can look like sitting with the mom at 2am while she nurses her baby, sometimes this looks like talking with a new mom about the challenges of new motherhood, and sometimes this looks like encouraging a mom through giving her baby their first bath, and it can even look like the postpartum doula helping maintain boundaries about visitors. Wherever a new mom needs emotional support– the postpartum doula steps in to help.
  • Physical Help: Assisting with light household chores, meal preparation, and offering tips for physical recovery to give mothers a chance to rest and recover from her pregnancy and birth. This can also be helping the new mom care for her older children or pets. Taking the pressure off of the mom to overdo it physically will help her rest more, heal faster, and ultimately have a more positive postpartum experience.
  • Infant Care Guidance: Postpartum doulas can help in educating and supporting new parents in infant care. This can include things like bathing, sleeping, carrying and feeding techniques. Depending on the postpartum doula, some are also trained in lactation support, and can help new moms if they’re struggling with breastfeeding. Many postpartum doulas have knowledge on different baby products and can help you make last minute decisions about things like bottles, baby carriers or pacifiers. Especially for first time parents, having a postpartum doula to help understand how to care for their newborn can build confidence and reduce some of the anxiety that can accompany early parenthood.
  • Mother’s Recovery: Postpartum doulas are trained to understand the care and attention that is required for a new mom to recover from her pregnancy and birth. Postpartum doulas can help new moms with movement ideas, stretches, sleep schedules, meal ideas and other non-medical advice. Postpartum doulas are also trained to look for signs of any PMADs (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders), which can be really important for the long term mental health and wellness of the new mom. Postpartum doulas also tend to maintain really great relationships and connections with other postpartum professionals, so a new mom will have easy access to resources that can help her and her new baby feel their best.


The Difference Between a Postpartum Doula and a Night Nanny/Night Nurse


A postpartum doula offers broad support during the daytime or evening and focuses on both the mother's and baby's needs, a night nanny or night nurse primarily provides infant care during the nighttime. Here are the key differences:
  • Role Focus: Night nannies and night nurses focus almost exclusively on the baby: specifically sleep and feeding, while postpartum doulas provide comprehensive support that includes the well-being of the entire family.
  • Service Timing: Night nannies and nurses work overnight to help parents get more sleep by taking care of the baby’s nighttime needs. Depending on the postpartum doula and the packages they offer– they can be available in the daytime or the evenings.
  • Scope of Support: Night nannies might offer some guidance on infant care but do not typically provide the extensive educational support or emotional counseling that doulas do. Night nurses also tend to have some sort of nursing license or credentials beyond that of a night nanny or postpartum doula.


Why is a postpartum doula a good idea for new families?


The journey of parenthood can be so exciting, but we’d be lying if we said it didn’t come with its own set of challenges. Hiring a postpartum doula can be a game changer for new families because they provide tailored support for each family they work with. While doulas are unique and have their own style, services they offer, and fees– there are some great general reasons why investing in a postpartum doula is a great way to help a new mom navigate postpartum. 
  • Customized Care: Each family is different, and a postpartum doula adjusts their approach to fit the specific needs and preferences of the family they are supporting. Hiring a postpartum doula means you get YOUR needs met and get to focus on your family’s priorities, no matter what they are. Your postpartum doula will help make the postpartum period less overwhelming and more empowering.
  • Boosting Confidence: New parenthood doesn’t come with a how-to book. And honestly, even the how-to books on the market now can’t take into account your unique family and needs. Brand new parents feel a spectrum of emotions about handling their newborn, from anxiety to fear to insecurity. Having a postpartum doula allows new parents a non-judgemental helping hand to ease into a routine that creates connection and confidence.
  • Emotional & Psychological Support: The postpartum period can be emotionally taxing– the hormone dump, the irregular sleep, the newness of everything can really wear on a new mom. Doulas provide a compassionate presence that helps to normalize the emotions new parents feel. They offer a listening ear, provide reassurance, and can even help in recognizing the signs of postpartum mood disorders, ensuring that parents receive the necessary support early on.
  • Support for the Whole Family: A postpartum doula doesn’t just care for the baby; they care for the whole family. This includes helping siblings adjust to a new baby, aiding in meal preparation, helping care for pets, and ensuring that all family members are supported as they navigate this new dynamic.
  • Non-judgemental: Even if you have loved ones who offer to come and help you with your baby, you might feel reluctant because you worry about judgment or appearing vulnerable. The benefit of working with a postpartum doula is that they’re trained professionals and will keep your interactions confidential. This way you don’t have to worry about someone bringing up bits and pieces of your postpartum experience at the next family party. It’s likely that your postpartum doula has seen it all when it comes to emotions, needs, and laundry piles.


Hiring a postpartum doula can make the transition into early parenthood feel so much better.


With their holistic, family focused, comprehensive care approach– doulas ensure that the mother and the entire family receive the support and guidance they need during the postpartum period. Whether it’s practical household help, emotional support, or infant care education, a postpartum doula helps make the early days with a new baby feel smoother and more enjoyable.
Postpartum doulas are an invaluable service to add to your BeHerVillage registry, and make for a really great baby shower gift.


Other Resources On Postpartum Doulas:

Read about the benefits of a postpartum doula, from Doula Darcy: https://behervillage.com/blog/top-five-benefits-of-hiring-a-postpartum-doula
How a postpartum doula mothers the mother, from a BeHerVillage postpartum doula: https://behervillage.com/blog/postpartum-doulas-mother-the-mother
Why you might want to hire a postpartum doula instead of just relying on your family for postpartum help: 


BeHerVillage is helping parents like you get the funds they need for the support they deserve! Are you having a baby and are looking for support? Create a registry for support today and get gifted funds directly into your bank account to pay for your support team. You deserve this.

Are you a birthworker who supports new moms? Use BeHerVillage to help your clients pay for your support. Create your free profile here and you can be the best baby shower gift a mom will ever get!
Category: BeHerVillage Registry Info , Postpartum Planning
Tags: postpartum recovery , postpartum , postpartum doula , postpartum meals


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