Are you also wondering what does a postpartum doula do?
After a ridiculously rocky entrance into motherhood, I decided there had to be a better way to go about becoming a mother.
So I interviewed birth and postpartum doula, Chelsey Cooper AKA Both Hands Doula, for answers.
Doulas are trained to provide non-medical care and act as advocates to support people experiencing life transitions. A postpartum doula is a new mother’s companion, guiding her journey into motherhood.
Or in Chelsey’s words, “It’s the person we all wish we had when we were recovering from our births. Someone to nurture you as you transition into motherhood.”
She says, “They honour what you have accomplished with your body and foster an environment where the only thing you need to worry about is resting and bonding with your babe.”
Amazing, but what does a postpartum doula do… like actually?
Typically, from your first day postpartum through 6-8 weeks, a postpartum doula offers logistical support within the home. (Unless otherwise advertised.)
So Chelsey is unique in offering services up to 365 days after you give birth.
Her priority is supporting the relationship between the new parents and baby, by facilitating rest and recovery.
Of course postpartum needs will depend on the individual’s/family’s unique needs, but here are some things it can include:
- Taking care of laundry
- Meal prepping
- Light housework (ie kitchen, nursery, bathroom and living room)
- Physical recovery care
- Emotional support to help process the birth experience
Just one stipulation: she’s not a nanny or a housekeeper!
It’s also family-centered support, to ensure the partner isn’t getting burnt out.
Plus, if there are warning signs of postpartum mood disorders, a doula is a real benefit to connect new parents with community resources.
Or empower them to discuss their experiences with their general practitioner.
Siiiiigh. Sounds pretty nice right?
If you’re like me, I’m wondering why I didn’t hear about doulas earlier.
RELATED READING: Understanding The 5 Perinatal Mental Health Disorders
Wait, there are other types of doulas?
As it turns out, yes!
Doulas support people through many transitional periods of their life–including end of life, pregnancy loss and termination–though mainly birth and postpartum.
Many doulas are trained from elder birth keepers, and some receive their training and certification from organizations.
How is a birth doula different than a postpartum doula?
A birth doula’s main responsibility is to support the wishes of the woman giving birth throughout that process.
Note: Many birth doulas also do postpartum work and vice versa but not always.
Chelsey’s birth doula work includes:
- A full-spectrum of care from 2 prenatal planning sessions where we can discuss preferences or concerns, right through to the fourth trimester and beyond
- All of my clients receive a birth wish list template and a wide variety of resources on breastfeeding, bottle feeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, physical recovery… and much more
- Additionally, they get 24/7 text, phone, and email support from the time they hire me until they give birth
- From 37 weeks, I’m on call for them and am ready day or night for their call to attend their birth
- She provides evidence-based information on different options throughout pregnancy and birth
At the birth itself, she supports her birthing mama physically with massage and counter pressure, while maintaining a calm environment, and assisting with labour positions.”
She says, “Emotionally, I am a continuous, compassionate, and encouraging presence.
I offer reassurance and praise while holding space and bearing witness to the sacredness of birth.”
And on top of that, she acts as a bit of a liaison between medical staff such as a or delivery doctor, nurse, or midwife.
Another big component is acting as an advocate.
This means encouraging the birthing mama and her partner to ask questions, verbalize their preferences, and amplifying their voice when needed.
Does a birth or postpartum doula replace a midwife, nurse, or delivery doctor?
A doula is an important part of a birth team!
While a midwife and OB are able to focus on getting babe safely earthside, a doula remains a secure base for the birthing person and their partner.
Doulas don’t provide medical care or clinical tasks; those would be performed by nurses or your OB/midwife. They are strictly support people.
But I still had a few more questions for Chelsey….
What’s one thing all 3rd trimester pregnant women should know?
Oh, how I wish we prepared for postpartum to the degree that we decorate our nurseries.
The amount of preparation I put into my own postpartum journey was dismal and I really paid for that with my mental health.
So I wish that there was more conversation about what to expect in the days and weeks following delivery.
The problem is, we just don’t know what we don’t know.
It’s a hormonal wasteland and there is just no way to prepare fully for it having never gone through it before.
Which is why I am so passionate about offering top-notch care to my clients.
So they can go through the process with the care and support of someone who has been there and done that.
We all just want to know we’re not alone.
What should all postpartum moms know as they transition into motherhood?
My number one tip would be to say yes when someone asks to help. Don’t feel like you have to be able to manage it all.
There are no prizes for doing laundry at 10pm on your third day postpartum. If you have a neighbour offering to send you dinner, text them your favorite take-away spot.
If your MIL is offering to clean your kitchen and bathroom, take her up on it and crawl back into bed with that babe.
Say yes, mama. You deserve this time.
Why is postpartum support so important?
There is a real gap in care for postpartum support. We get the “all clear” after 6 weeks…. and that’s it!
Plus, a lot of folks are geographically separated from their families and don’t have that support to really just focus on bonding with their babe.
Are postpartum doulas covered by insurance, HSA, or FSA?
According to Cigna, “Some—but not all—insurance companies will cover all or part of the cost of a doula. Check with your insurance company to find out.”
Although it is unclear whether that’s limited to a birth doula versus receiving any postpartum services.
In Canada, doula services aren’t typically covered by medical benefits.
Bottom line: It’s best to ask your insurance provider so you can be certain about your unique situation.
And as for your HSA or FSA?
This resource says, “Doula services are eligible for reimbursement with flexible spending accounts (FSA) and health savings accounts (HSA) with a letter of medical necessity.”
By the way, Chelsey has a great idea: a postpartum doula makes an amazing and unique baby shower gift!
Are postpartum doulas worth it?
Although I haven’t hired one for myself yet, my personal answer as a first-time mom with a discombobulating and difficult postpartum would be a resounding: YES!
It’s hard to prepare mentally ahead of time for all the challenges you face as a new mom. You don’t know what you don’t know.
But take it from me, you want all the help and support you can get to ease your transition into motherhood.
And for me, a birth and postpartum doula sounds like the answer to my prayers.
So you bet I’ll be hiring one for my next pregnancy!
And I hope this answered your question: what does a postpartum doula do?
RELATED READING: Read Chelsey’s take on what she prefers over padsicles here!
RELATED READING: How to make a DIY postpartum recovery kit
About to have a baby?
Make sure you’re prepared for childbirth and to meet your own needs during the postpartum period with my handy, printable Essential 3rd & 4th Trimester Guide!
Want to know more about Both Hands Doula?
Chelsey lives in Kamloops, which is located in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada on the traditional and unceded ancestral territory of the Secwépemc people.
She was drawn to this work after having a traumatic birth followed by an experience with postpartum anxiety.
She’s certifying as a Birth and Postpartum Doula through Doula Canada.
Find her on Instagram @both_hands_doula.
Visit her website to learn about her virtual packages at bothhandsdoula.com.
You can also email her directly to book a free, no-obligation consultation at [email protected]
Psst… if you enjoyed this article, share it with another current or future mama!
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Featured photo by: Jen Randall Dustin Photography