A postpartum doula is a new mother’s advocate when you need strength and support after giving birth.
They provide non-medical physical, emotional and informational support after the birth of your baby. The postpartum period can be a time of vulnerability for new mothers and a good doula can have a profound impact on how you transition into your new life.
It is important to carefully read any contract before hiring a postpartum doula to make sure you are both on the same page and you have a positive experience.
Let’s go through what to expect to help you choose the best doula to fit your needs.
What Does A Postpartum Doula Do?
A postpartum doula will help your new family during the postpartum period. They are knowledgeable in all aspects of newborn care and birth, from swaddling advice to nutritional tips to aid your recovery.
A postpartum doula provides tangible assistance like assisting mothers with getting out of bed after giving birth and helping them bathe their babies. They provide advice on self-care, postpartum comfort measures, emotional support, infant care, and educational support.
Often they will perform light household tasks such as bringing snacks, meal preparation, or doing the dishes so you have more time to devote to the care of your baby.
To avoid disappointment it’s best to plan in advance what services you would like your doula to perform and negotiate this prior to your contract starting. Some services may incur additional costs.
Postpartum doulas will often offer extra services for an additional fee. Examples of these are:
- Placenta prints
- Placenta encapsulation
- Footprint and Handprint keepsakes
- Postpartum massage
- Grocery Shopping
Be sure to thoroughly discuss all services and pricing with your doula before signing a contract.
What Won’t a Doula Do?
Most postpartum doula services will not offer medical advice or medical assessments. If you have a cesarean birth you will still need to visit an appropriate healthcare provider to perform clinical tasks such as wound care.
Doulas do not offer transportation services or childcare. They will assist with the care of your new baby to allow you time to rest and recuperate, but they would not expect to be left alone with your baby, or any siblings for a prolonged period of time.
They may consent to grocery shopping, however, they usually won’t perform major housecleaning tasks or yard work.
The Legal Side
A postpartum doula contract is a legal document that outlines your postpartum doula’s relationship with you, the client, and her responsibilities.
It includes things such as:
- How much they charge for their services
- What type of postpartum care they provide (including hours & days)
- Cancellation policies
- Any other details that are important to you both.
You must ensure you have proper legal protection when employing a doula. The postpartum doula agreement needs to be in writing and clearly state the hours of postpartum support and care services that will be provided. Also, clarify how many postpartum visits this will include and the charges for any additional hours if needed.
Make sure your doula has liability insurance and a secure checkout process for payment. In addition, postpartum doulas should have references, police info checks, and proof of first aid and CPR training, available for your review. Do not be frightened to ask for any info you need to feel safe.
Your doula should be happy to provide you with all of the appropriate information and additional legal documents.
Due to unpredictable scheduling conflicts, it is possible your doula will not be available when you give birth. In an unfortunate situation like this, you may be offered a replacement doula. If possible try and meet this backup doula in advance so you know you are happy to accept this.
You should also check your doula’s availability should you go into early labor. Consider whether you will require birth doula services as well.
It is routine for your doula to request a retainer fee be paid. Check the terms and conditions associated with this, will you be given a full refund in the event of illness if your doula cancels?
You will usually be asked to provide a physical or digital signature to confirm that you have read the contract in full and agree with all the terms and conditions.
What Questions Should Families Ask when Choosing a Doula?
You should choose a doula you feel comfortable with and who makes you feel comfortable. You will be leaning on them for emotional support and sharing intimate details about your postpartum care, there must be a connection for you to be comfortable and relaxed to do this.
Your postpartum doula should share your values, for example, if you intend to breastfeed your baby then your postpartum doula should be a strong breastfeeding advocate, ideally with plenty of successful breastfeeding experience.
Don’t be tempted to book a doula purely because they have availability around your due date.
It’s important to schedule a prenatal visit to get to know your doula better, to make the best use of this time consider the following questions:
- How do you like their personality?
- Do they make you feel at ease or uncomfortable?
- Are they a good listener?
- What are their parenting values?
- What postpartum doula services do they provide and does this fit your expected needs?
- How long is the postpartum doula service provided for, and is this flexible?
- Are there any restrictions or exclusions in the postpartum doula contract? What happens if one of these conditions arises?
- When can the doula be reached and how many hours notice do they need to start?
Ask other families in your area who they would recommend as a postpartum doula. If you trust them, their opinion will likely be more valuable than anyone else’s, since they have had first-hand experience.
I hope this blog post has helped you make an informed decision about what a postpartum doula is and how to choose one for yourself.
Remember that it’s ok if your needs are different than those of other mothers-to-be or new moms, your experience is your own.
Let me know if you think I’ve missed anything in the comments below. I want every momma out there to have as much information as possible when making decisions about her postnatal period.