A postpartum doula is a person who is there to mother the mother after she has given birth. The word “doula” comes from the Greek language and, when translated, means “a woman servant.”
A DONA-trained and certified postpartum doula is a professional who provides hands-on support during the crucial time after a family gives birth and brings that little bundle of joy home. We spend a considerable amount of time oohing and aahing over our pregnant friends, planning baby showers, creating birth plans, and getting the baby nursery set up, but what happens when we come home with that little package?
So many parents are caught off guard by how truly exhausting it can be to keep a baby happy, healthy, and fed! Between the pain from a vaginal birth or C-section, the leaking breasts, erratic emotions, changing family dynamics, and lack of sleep, most of us wonder how we will ever get through those first 6 months!
This is where hiring a postpartum doula can make all the difference.
Related: Resources for Moms in Tampa
What do postpartum doulas help with?
Postpartum doulas are trained in all aspects of helping a new family adjust to the changes that we all experience when we have a baby. We provide emotional, physical, and hands-on help when you need it most.
For some families, this may look like daytime care in 4- 6 hours periods. For others, overnight care is where it’s at. Other times, it’s a combination of both.
You may already know that you will need extra emotional support during the weeks after birth and want a postpartum doula to come in and spend time keeping you on an even keel. Many women already struggle with depression and pre-empt this difficult time by hiring a postpartum doula to come and “hold space” with them. I spend a good amount of time talking with moms, and dads, about the birth experience, the postpartum period, and “checking in” to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met. If you’ve experienced depression, anxiety, or postpartum mood disorders before, then you KNOW how important it is to have someone to talk to about how you are feeling and to offer support. Postpartum mood disorders can present themselves at any time from a few days to 2 years after giving birth! Here’s where having a postpartum doula can have a huge impact. We are trained to assess any shifts in mood and possible mood disorders. We will give you a referral for a mental health professional who is specifically trained in helping navigate postpartum mood disorders and be there to help you along the way.
Care for mom
As a postpartum doula, I am trained in aspects of care that focus on the mother and ensure that she is happy and healthy so that she can care for her baby. As a mother, we all tend to make sure that everyone else’s needs are met before our own. It’s my job to make sure that your needs are met so that you can make all that magic happen! Sometimes this means I am making sure that you have enough to eat and drink. It may look like me holding the baby so you can shower, sleep, take a walk, or go for a manicure. Other times, it might be folding the baskets of laundry, making beds, washing and sanitizing bottles, and breast pump parts. You may need me to prepare a meal and have it ready to eat or freeze. I’m there to accompany you to appointments, help you prepare for that first trip out of the house with the baby, or help navigate all the new tools that go along with a new baby.
Whether you decide to breastfeed, pump, or use baby formula, a postpartum doula is there to help make any of these choices easier and doable. I can help make sure you are using the best positions for breastfeeding; help reduce any discomfort and figure out ways to make breastfeeding and pumping a positive experience. If you choose to use formula that’s great, too! As a postpartum doula, it’s my job to remain non-judgmental about support you in your choices. There are so many reasons why one may choose to use formula instead of breastfeeding, and a postpartum doula is there to help you figure out what works for you and your family.
Pregnancy and birth can be HARD on a woman’s body, and a postpartum doula can help you figure out where to go for help when all those changes become concerns. I come equipped with an extensive referral list of professionals who can help you navigate all the changes that pop up after birth. Some examples are: chiropractic care for you and baby, lactation professionals who can help assess issues, mental health professionals who can help with any postpartum mood disorders, oral restriction professionals, functional medicine doctors, pelvic floor specialists, physical therapists, and so many more!
Just the day-to-day needs for yourself and your baby can feel overwhelming at times, and having a postpartum doula present to focus on YOU and YOUR needs can make all the difference.
About the Author
Ann is a DONA-certified postpartum doula who works in the Tampa Bay area. She is the owner of Tampa Bay Postpartum Doula Services and services Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties. Ann provides one on one care to families who have recently given birth. Her goal as a postpartum doula is to ease the transitional period in the months after a family welcomes a new baby into their family. She provides emotional, mental, physical, lactation, and sleep support to families. She is trained in infant feeding, whether it is by breast or bottle, all aspects of infant care, and sleep shaping. Ann is committed to providing evidence-based care and participates in continuous training to stay up to date on how to provide the best care. Every family is different and has unique needs, and Ann tailors her services to meet these needs. Ann provides both daytime and overnight care to best help each family’s needs.