One of the best things I did for myself after I found out I was pregnant, was hire a post partum doula. Most people are familiar with a birthing doula who essentially supports you in the delivery room while you give birth, but not many know that “post partum” doulas exist. Moreover, I found that most women still have a common misconception that doulas are some sort of hippies that perform home births or don’t believe in medicated births. This is SO far from the truth. To keep it short and sweet, Doulas are there to support a family however that family wants to be supported during the birthing and or post partum process.
I opted for a post partum doula instead of a birthing doula and she met us at my home the very moment we brought home Shaan. Although I have my mom and mother in law around, both of them had kids VERY long ago and I wanted someone experienced to just help me settle in.
I have been asked SO many questions about my experience with hiring a doula, so hopefully this blog post will walk you through the process and help you make this decision if you are considering it!
Q. What is a Doula, and where do I begin to find one?
Doulas are women who have completed informal training to be able to provide guidance and support to a woman during and after the birthing process. They are not doctors or medical professionals, but rather support persons who although cannot give you medical advice, can provide you with extensive knowledge or information to help you make the right choice for yourself.
DONA is the most well acclaimed certifying agency for Doulas and the best place to search for a Doula online (just put in your zipcode and see whose close by- contact information should be provided). DONA certified Doulas make a significant investment in their education as they have to complete very rigorous training through various classes and workshops to earn this title of being DONA certified. I interviewed quite a few doulas and trust me when I say- it seems ANYONE can call themselves a DOULA! I had a lady show up with nails that were at least 5 inches long- I was mortified thinking of my newborn in her hands. Needless to say she was not DONA certified- and she was not hired.
You can also ask in local facebook groups for recommendations on Doulas ! Just make sure when you interview them, they provide their certification – you can always verify their information through the DONA site. This is someone you are trusting your baby with, do the homework, and make the calls for background checks- this part is non negotiable.
Q: Whats a day in the life of a Doula on the job? Can you give me examples of what she would do?
Most post partum doulas essentially work overnights. They generally work from about 10 pm to 7 am (about 8-10 hour shifts over night) or can assist you just a few hours during the day.
Here is a list of all the things my doula did for me during those night time hours:
- Dishes & tidying up the kitchen
- washing & sterilizing bottles from the day and cleaning the babies room
- Brought the baby up to me for every overnight feed, assisted me in breastfeeding and once I was finished, would take the baby to burp him, change him, swaddle him and put him back to sleep
- kept the baby monitor and would continually check on the baby throughout the night, adjusting bedroom temperature if needed etc.
- Bathe Shaan (in the morning before she left)
Here are all the things she assisted me with in general:
- taught me about wake and sleep cycles and helped get the baby on a better schedule
- recommended various swaddles and taught us how to best use them
- taught us techniques to help soothe the baby
- recommended an excellent lactation consultant to assist with latching issues
- recommended a baby chiropractor to help ease the colic symptoms
- taught us how to properly prepare, store and refrigerate formula
- provided us with moral support and constant words of encouragement
- taught me how to give the baby a bath
- taught me safe sleep guidelines
Q: What’s the difference between a night nurse and a doula?
Firstly, the term “night nurse” has now changed to “newborn care specialist” because parents used to think that the title implied some sort of nursing degree was held by these women. Many NCS’s (newborn care specialists) generally require to be “live in” and instead of an hourly rate, they work off of a daily or weekly rate. They do not have the same qualifications as a DONA certified DOULA but they provide around the clock, live in help ( not all, many do only overnight care). Baby nurses typically only care for the baby whereas Doulas care for the family. A night nurse will do only the baby’s laundry and only clean the baby’s bottles and will not do mom & dads laundry or dishes. If you choose to hire a night nurse I highly highly suggest only hiring someone who came personally recommended to you. Although I’m a stickler for the certifications I know plenty of friends who have had night nurses and have had wonderful experiences even if they didn’t have any “fancy” certifications. At the least, a clean driving record, background check and CPR certification is a bare minimum. I would also ask to speak with their most current employers! Night nurses typically charge less than a doula as well and can be a more affordable option.
Q: How much do post partum doulas cost? Requirements for scheduling or hours?
Most DONA certified Doulas are anywhere form $25-$35 per hour. You can hire them for one night a week, a few nights a month or every night for three months if you choose- totally up to you and you can talk about this during the interview process! We had our doula do overnights for several weeks and she was absolutely invaluable. My husband and I were able to get sleep so we could be well rested during the day in caring for our baby. Even with family around- most people are around during the day to help you, but no one stays up with you all night!
Q: Tips for the interviewing process? How do you know which Doula is right for you, what’s important to look for?
Experience, flexibility and personality were the top three most important things for me. I interviewed three doulas and although they all seemed great, something really just felt very “easy” and “comfortable” with the doula I ended up hiring. I also was impressed with how many families she had cared for – it meant she had pretty much seen it ALL in 20 years of caring for newborns! She also didn’t have any minimum requirements for how long we needed to hire her or any other pending families she might have to leave us for. I searched my doula’s name in my local facebook moms group and everyone who mentioned her in posts- RAVED about her. I also double checked her certificate was valid, ther background check was clear and called two of her most recent references she provided just to be on the safe side.
Here are some questions you can ask in your interview:
- Can you tell me alittle bit about why you chose to be DONA certified versus any other certifying agency? What would you say is most valuable about your training?
- What are the most common things you find yourself troubleshooting with new parents? Can you give examples of how you helped parents overcome these hurdles?
- What is your schedule and flexibility like? Are you available weekends, days, nights? Do you have a minimum number of hours?
- Is there anything you are not comfortable doing?
- Can you be specific in how you will help me care for the baby? How will you support my family as well?
- Could you describe to be what a typical day/night would look like when you are here?
- What made you want to become a doula? What is the most rewarding part?