Last month I shared about being a birth doula. This month I’m sharing what it’s like to be a postpartum doula. While both birth and postpartum doula work focusing on serving the mother, the details of the job can be quite different. According to Cappa.net:
The Postpartum Doula works with families in the postpartum period; offering support, information, instruction, comfort, and referrals as needed. Postpartum Doulas support the mother’s recovery, give instruction on infant care and feeding, and assist with household organization.”
As a postpartum doula, I go into a new mom’s home and help her with whatever she needs that day. This might be watching the baby(ies) while she showers and naps, helping her with breastfeeding, or helping her understand her baby a little better.
Here are a few aspects of this job—the parts I love and the parts that stress me out!
When I first started as a postpartum doula, I couldn’t get over the idea that I wasn’t on call for my postpartum clients. I could set my own hours and schedule. I could work after I dropped my boys off at school and be done in time to pick them up. While I’m still attending births, I love having a much more predictable schedule with the new moms!
I have to learn a lot about both the new mother (postpartum recovery, mood disorders, breastfeeding, etc.) but I also have to learn a lot about the newborn as well!
As postpartum doulas, we are “experts in normal” meaning we need to know about baby’s skin, breathing, pees/poops, sleep, temperament, etc. I love learning new things, and it seems like the information we get on babies is always changing, so there’s always something new to learn!
The other part of knowing things are just the basics of caring for a new mother and her household. A small part of my job involves tidying the home, laundry, and meal prep. I’ve learned to work a lot of different washing machines and stoves!
Plus, there’s nothing like looking silly in front of a new client when you can’t figure out the child safety locks on the cabinets. (Seriously—every home I’m in uses a different type of lock! Ha!)
Emotional Support is Heavy
The most important job a postpartum doula has is supporting the new mother emotionally.
I personally suffered postpartum psychosis, so it’s very important to me to check in on the new mother and how she’s feeling. With that comes the incredible job of listening and showing empathy for her situation. I know how important it is to have someone compassionate to talk to. As a postpartum doula, it’s sometimes very hard (or impossible) to “leave work at work”.
The Stress of Crying Babies
One of the hardest parts of my job is calming the baby (babies). I have many tricks up my sleeve to help even the fussiest of babies, but sometimes new babies just want to be with their mamas. And I want these new mamas to be able to shower and nap peacefully!
It’s good for me to feel a bit frazzled. When I’m working with crying twins, my emotions go from “what am I going to do with these babies?” to “I’ve totally got this under control!”–in about 30 seconds. I’m sure that is just a small bit of what new moms are feeling too!
My Home is More Organized
Whenever I’m working with a postpartum client, I find the need to keep my home tidy as well. I love having my laundry caught up and dinners ready for the week, just like I do at my clients’ homes. I get into a good rhythm while doing this work, and it’s easy to keep it going at home! Running a business also takes a good level of organization as well, and I’ve really enjoyed learning about being a small business owner!
I feel so fortunate to be doing a job I truly love, and I look forward to every day and every family I work with. I’m often really tired at the end of the day, but being able to serve women during this transition in their lives is so rewarding and meaningful.
What things did you do to make postpartum life easier?