Doula is a woman trained to assist other women throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. She provides information, emotional and physical support, as well as help with breastfeeding and the new routine after the baby arrives.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek, having as its original meaning “the one who serves”. It was used at the time to refer to a domestic servant, a slave, who worked for women. These servants were part of the day-to-day life of the household and helped women also in the birth and rearing of children.
Birth doulas are already well known. But not many people know about the postnatal doula.
What is a Postnatal Doula?
Postnatal doulas are experienced women who accompany, guide and support both physically and emotionally the mother who has just given birth. They have as a priority to care for the mother, but also give support to the rest of the family and the newborn baby. Her role, among others, is to empower the new mum by showing that she is able to care for her baby, making her transition to motherhood more enjoyable.
In the words of Laura Gutman, “women who have given birth should realize that concrete help, care, and effective follow-up during the postnatal period are not luxury, but rather a priority that all women must have access to”. The main role of the postnatal doula is to provide support, information and empathy.
Here are some tasks of the Postnatal Doula:
- helping the mother find her support network
- helping prepare a postnatal plan
- guidance and support in breastfeeding or bottle feeding
- baby care suggestions if the new mum wants them
- listening to the mother without judging her
- normalising the “crazy” feelings the new mum may have
- giving tips on how to include older child(ren) in the new routine
- light housework
- guidance on how the family can help.
What a Postnatal Doula does not do:
- no diagnosis of mother or baby symptoms
- no medical procedure
- she does not judge the family she is working with
- she’s not a nurse, a nanny, or a maid.
Advantages and benefits of having a Postnatal Doula:
- lower incidence of postnatal depression
- greater chance of success in breastfeeding
- calm and confident babies and parents
- strong mother-baby bond
- a more smooth and serene postnatal experience
- access to scientific based information on postnatal issues
Here is one certain thing: the difference we can make is rather significant, primordial. Because the postnatal period is an intense one, but it can also be smooth and positive.
Click here to know more about the work of the postnatal doula