The Incredible and Well Worth Investment of a Post-Partum Doula
By: Ana Paula Markel ICCE, CD (DONA)
Certified Doula, Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA Approved Birth Doula Trainer
Owner, Bini Birth
The word doula has gained incredible popularity in the past decade. The joke in big cities is not if you have a doula but WHO is your doula. Women have become familiar and embraced the idea that a loving, informed and positive presence during the transition into motherhood can be the single best decision about their care.
We are now embracing and exploring the role of the Postpartum Doula.
According to DONA International and from their website, a Postpartum Doula:
- Offers education, companionship and nonjudgmental support during the postpartum fourth trimester
- Assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying
- Offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents, and makes appropriate referrals when necessary
A postpartum doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials PCD(DONA).
Translating this definition into a day in a new mother’s life, it is almost comparing darkness to light. A new mother is often tired from the birth experience; experiencing a physiological hormonal drop, and recognizing that nothing could really prepare someone for the role as a mother. She may have breastfeeding questions and infant sleep/wake cycle questions. Much support is needed during the early post partum days.
Sleep deprivation combined with the seemly relentless needs of the newborn. And how about the partner? Partners can be just as lost or even on a different pace than the mother.
Enter the role of the postpartum doula. Through gentle listening, validation and expertise she brings confidence to the new parents.
The birth doula supports and informs about the birth process but at the end of the day, the mother will be the one to birth the baby, either vaginally or by a cesarean birth.
The postpartum doula does the same, her role is to encourage and support the parents in parenting their own babies. The postpartum doula does not take over the care of the baby for the mother, but gently guides mom through her questions and insecurities. The postpartum doula will also remind the mother of all the things she is doing well, celebrating each milestone with the family in the early days.
If we nurture the mother, she can nurture her baby. It sounds simple but in real life may not be. People come to visit and the mother may catch herself entertaining, thinking about food for the guests or being polite and making small talks when all she wants is to rest. New mothers need to have their feet up, to be fed, heard, validated and honored in order to provide for their infant. The postpartum doula’s role is to care for the mother (and her partner) along with the infant. It is not divided or separated, it is a big picture; a family approach.
At this point you may be sold on the idea, but probably asking how much such service will cost. No, it is not a cheap service, but we can look at it as an investment. You are preventing postpartum depression, therefore saving on therapy sessions and possible medication. You are preventing breastfeeding complications, therefore saving on formula and the paraphernalia that comes with bottle feeding. You are enhancing communication among partners, therefore saving in couple’s therapy. These are just a few of the financial benefits of hiring a postpartum doula. And what is the price for love, peace of mind, security, confidence and a healthy relationship among new parents?
People spend so much money on fancy strollers, diaper bags, baby luxury clothing, and many other items that are fun. How can we help society value the aid of a doula dedicated to post partum service for the infant and family in the first 1 or 2 weeks post birth just as much?
A postpartum doula costs anywhere from 20 to 50 dollars/hour. It depends on the city, if it is day or night shifts, or one baby or multiples. Doulas are hired for some hours daily or nightly and/or for 24 hours care. Doulas can be hired for either short or longer term. You can also negotiate the fee with the doula based on the period you want to contract with her. Some doulas work on sliding scales.
Here are some ideas in case you feel you can’t afford a doula:
- Think about hiring a newly trained doula who will charge a lot less than an experienced doula. These doulas often have mentorship from their trainers, and more experienced doulas.
- Create a doula fund for your baby shower.
- Suggest it as a gift from grandparents, and close relatives.
- Suggest a payment plan to the doula.
In the end, it is the mother, partner and baby who will benefit from this service. A safe, confident beginning of life is a precious and lasting investment in the relationship with our children and each other.
Peace begins in the womb, birth and early parenting.
To find a PP doula near you, www.dona.org and in the Los Angeles area www.binibirth.com.