What’s a Postpartum Doula & Why Would You Hire One?
Written by Hannah Bielecke and originally published at https://stoneandkin.co/overnight-doula/
So why would you need an overnight doula for your postpartum experience? Postpartum is such a special time. You are finally on the other side of your birth and you get to hold your precious baby close. Now is when you get to parent and be the family you have been dreaming about.
And postpartum is special for another reason: you have never been more tired. The need for sleep is one of our most basic human needs, and when it is lacking, our health and wellbeing suffer for it. And when we are not well, our family is affected.
Babies and children are better able to thrive when their parents are well cared for and supported.
Your postpartum experience is for rest, healing, and bonding with your baby. If you are lacking serious amounts of sleep, this is tough to do!
This is where an overnight doula can come in and help your family so you can have a postpartum experience that allows for rest, healing, and bonding.
So what is an overnight doula?
An overnight doula works during the postpartum period to support you and your family overnight. She is trained and skilled in caring for you and your family, with special emphasis on you.
Although you will be asleep most of the time that she is there (hopefully!), she is there to support you and attend to your emotional, informational, and educational needs postpartum.
An overnight doula helps you get some much needed sleep and rest knowing that your baby is in good hands. She knows how to care for, feed, and soothe your baby, as well as properly tend to other tasks that may need to get done.
Unlike a night nurse, who is there to care for your baby, an overnight doula prioritizes the care of the family. Your overnight doula wants to help make your nights go more smoothly, as well as your days. She builds a relationship with you so that she knows what you need most from her services and you trust each other. This allows you to rest and know that you are supported.
What does a night with an overnight doula look like?
You and your doula will work out a nightly shift beginning and end time. Before your first night shift, you also may have your doula over a bit during the day. Then you can get to know each other better and go over your needs and routines. This also helps her learn the layout of your home.
This is important, as you need to be able to trust her. Similarly, she needs to be able to know how to support you best so you are well and able to care for your family.
Then on the overnight shift, you and your doula talk for a bit and make a plan for the night. Your doula will set you up with what you need: clean pump parts, a glass of water, meditation suggestions for sleep, etc.
Should you feel the urge to text or call your overnight doula to check how things are going, that is fine! Should you desire to tiptoe downstairs and make sure that all is okay, that is fine, too!
In the beginning, it can be hard to leave your baby in the care of someone else.
Your doula knows this and is happy to fill you in with the details. You will be able to relax with her there in time. And should you feel that you are not able to relax and may suffer from a postpartum mood disorder, talk about it. This is common and nothing to be ashamed of. Your doula is there to listen and to help you find some great resources that can further support you. Your therapist, family, and friends are also able to help you find the appropriate support you need during this time.
During the shift, your doula will feed your baby, change her when necessary, burp her, and soothe her to sleep. If you are pumping or need to breastfeed during the night, the overnight doula can bring your baby to you. She can also bring pump parts directly to you so that you do not have to get out of bed. She can even bring you water and a snack! It is important for you to eat and nourish your body as it nourishes your baby’s body.
The doula is then able to retrieve your baby and get her back to sleep, as well as label and store any pumped milk. She can take care of dishes and wash the bottles and pump parts.
The overnight doula may throw in a load of laundry for you, organize your bottle cupboard, or make some healthy snacks to keep you nourished throughout the days to follow. Some of my go-tos with clients are hard boiled eggs (so easy to make in a batch) and these no-bake cookies. Both are easy and able to be eaten with one hand (once peeled!).
However, your overnight doula is not superhuman.
She may need to sleep, too! Some overnight doulas work in this role as their sole job and responsibility. This means that they have time during the day to catch up on sleep before heading to their next nighttime shift.
However, others have daytime responsibilities. Your overnight doula may have children of her own, another job to go to, and various tasks that must be completed during normal daytime “working” hours. In this case, she may need to work in a few hours of sleep while tending to your family, too.
And this is okay!
When your overnight doula shares these needs with you, it is a reminder that you need to honor your needs, too. She will still do everything she can to support you. And you will still get some much needed hours of sleep while she tends to your baby’s needs. As long as your baby is fed, changed, and soothed and you get some sleep, your overnight doula has supported your family in ways that benefit the whole family.
This is something you should discuss with the particular night doulas you speak with, as each will have individual policies and needs. Many overnight doulas have a set rate for the night. However, most are willing to be flexible and work with your needs. You should ask your particular doula about her trainings and certifications, as well. It generally differs a bit from doula to doula! You may seek one with breastfeeding credentials or more experience with multiples. See this post about finding the right doula for your family.
In summary, an overnight doula is a great investment in your health and your family if you are struggling to get enough sleep.
Overnight doulas are trained in how to care for you and your baby, so you have the benefits of newborn education and knowing that your baby is in safe hands. *AND* you have the benefits of someone who knows how to support you through your individual needs postpartum.
You overnight doula makes your life easier by getting tasks done and being able to listen to you. She is there to support you in your need for rest, as well as your other postpartum needs. When you get more sleep, you are healthier, happier, and better able to be the parent that you want to be the next day. In postpartum, it is important to care for yourself in all of the ways that you need.
Seeking the support of an overnight doula can be one way to make that happen.
Wishing you well as you navigate your beautiful and real postpartum experience <3
Read more over at Stone & Kin:
Why you should hire a birth doula and How a postpartum doula can support your family
My doula services: Touchstone Doula Services
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