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Why hire a postnatal doula? What do postnatal doulas do?

Many people either haven’t heard of postnatal doulas or if they have they aren’t sure what they do and how they differ from a nanny or mother’s help.

Read on to learn a little more about us….

Becoming a parent is life changing and all consuming. Yes it’s magical and beautiful but it’s also really blooming tough!

If you’re anything like me, you may have focussed most of your attention on planning for your birth and not considered what life might look like afterwards. Why do so many of us do this? Having a family is a life changing event like getting married or moving house – both of which we plan extensively for, but we only seem to plan for birth and not for our postnatal period.

I guess realistically it is difficult to know how you are going to feel and cope when your little one comes along; but if only we could all take the time to learn and consider what life might look like and put plans in place to cope a little better in those early days. What a difference that would make to every family. You can download a copy of my free postnatal plan on my website.

For some, life as a new parent is tougher than for others. Some cope better with sleep deprivation; some don’t struggle day and night with worries and doubts; some are able to breastfeed right off the bat; some have a huge support network of friends and family to help them, and some don’t suffer from any mental or physical issues.

No matter who we are and how we walk the journey, we all deserve love and support in those early days and weeks following birth. Your body and brain are not the same; you are going through huge change and emotions; big adjustments must be made; your relationships are tested and life as you knew it has very much changed.

To have the continuity of support that a postnatal doula provides can be life changing for families and allow them to have a positive first few months with their baby. We provide postnatal planning sessions as well as in home emotional and practical support.

A kind, caring friend to visit regularly, who is there to support you and your family. We don’t bring any of our own baggage or stories to the table. No judgement or advice just helpful suggestions and a wealth of knowledge and experience.

We listen and really hear you and give you time to offload and get your thoughts together. We can signpost you to relevant evidence-based information and local experts.

We can help you practically with feeding support whether you choose to breast or bottle feed as well as help with household tasks like laundry and cooking.

We will even carry your baby in our sling if that’s something you’re happy with and get on with all these jobs so that you can shower, eat, rest, sleep or just have some time to yourself or spend time with another child you may already have. We can also help with older siblings where applicable.

We’re an extra pair of hands and having this kind of one to one emotional and practical support can make all the difference. We are there for you and our job is to reassure you and be your biggest cheerleader so that you feel held and nurtured.

Some families have a doula once per week and some every day and everything in between. Some doulas stay for over a year and others just a few sessions. Some days more emotional support is needed and others more practical. Sometimes it’s just a case of some reassurance with a walk out with the buggy for the first time or having some support whilst feeding out and about.

We are flexible to suit each family’s unique needs because every family is different. There are also a range of doulas to suit all budgets from mentored doulas just starting out on their journey to experienced doulas who have been supporting families for years. We usually work for a minimum of 3 hours at a time and some doulas also offer overnight support.

Having carried out a survey on some of my clients recently, the reasons they gave for hiring a postnatal doula in the first place included:

“To help with our busy home so I have time to focus on baby number 2.”

“To help gain confidence with my baby and to know someone was coming in those early days when my partner may be away with work.”

“To enable me to catch up on sleep and to provide a calm caring environment for our toddler.”

“To provide support from an emotional and practical standpoint during a period of vulnerability.”

“To help prepare nutritious meals and carry our other practical tasks.”

I’ve also asked many new parents what they wish they’d known before they had their baby, the majority of the answers came back to support and information they wish they’d had and known. Both aspects a postnatal doula can really help with.

Many families talked about wishing they’d put plans in place for boundaries about visitors coming in those early days. Wishing they’d asked them to bring food, do laundry and make their own cups of tea! Some even wished they’d not had visitors so early or even at all!

The sling was also a favourite among the answers received to this question. Parents told me how helpful they’d found it with baby number 2 and only wish they’d known about it first time round. Other parents wish they hadn’t been in such a rush to “bounce back” and wish they’d taken their time a bit more and enjoyed those sleepy snuggles a little longer. Many wish they’d known that postnatal doulas existed!

Postnatal doulas can help you to answer the hundreds of questions you have as a new parent and signpost you to the relevant sources of information and support available.

But I do think one of the most important things we bring as postnatal doulas is our reassurance. New parents can be a little nervous and anxious to begin with about all sorts of things relating to their new baby – feeding, sleep, behaviour etc. To have a trusted experienced person there holding your hand and helping you through emotionally and practically is a beautiful thing and gold for new parents I believe. Not someone who will tell you what to do but someone to gently offer helpful information and suggestions so that you can make your own decisions.

So in a nutshell, why do I think new parents should hire a postnatal doula? Because we all deserve to feel heard, supported and held through one of the most vulnerable and life changing events of our lives. I truly believe that we help parents to have a more positive postpartum.

It is important to find the right doula for you. You need to feel totally comfortable with the person coming into your home and there is a doula to suit every family.

For more information on doulas in general or to find the right doula for you, check our Doula UK’s website

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