Choosing a Postpartum Doula

  • 9 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Postpartum Doula

    Now that you have asked around and done your internet sleuthing to find a postpartum doula near you, its time to narrow down your search. Depending on where you live there might be 15 potential postpartum doulas or their could be just 1. Either way, its important to make sure that you and the doula are a good match and that you feel a connection with her.

    Though this person will be acting in a professional role for your family, her duties and objectives will require a deep level of trust and understanding.

    She will see you and support you during one of the most vulnerable times. She will see you go through struggles and triumphs.

    She will listen to your fears and worries and hear your birth story many, many times.

    She will help smooth the rough spots and deepen your connect you to your village.

    Because of this it is crucial that you find a postpartum doula that you feel supports you in the ways that are most important to you.

     

    Your first opportunity to get a feel for your prospective postpartum doula comes when you initially contact them. How attentive are they to your request for more information? Does their style of communication work for you?

    The second major opportunity comes at your consultation when you get to meet the postpartum doula face to face. This meeting will have a large effect on how you choose to move forward. Make the most of your no obligation consultation by asking any and all of your pertinent questions.

     

    A great question to start out with is:
    1. WHAT LEAD YOU TO THIS WORK?

    Get a feel for why and how she came to this work. Her motivating forces should resonate with you.

    Next, you can ask about her professional experience as a postpartum doula:
    2. WHAT TYPE OF TRAINING DO YOU HAVE?

    3. WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE?

    In the United States, doula work does not require any sort of training or certification. Nor is there a national certifying body for all doulas. Private companies provide training and certifications, but they are not required for one to work as a postpartum doula. One can simply decide to be a postpartum doula.

    Because of this it is up to you, the consumer, to decide if a prospective doulas education and/or experience are satisfactory for your needs. It may important to you that your postpartum doula be a mother herself  or that she have some formal training even though she is not certified. It might be important for you to have a postpartum doula that has trained and become certified through a specific organization. Or perhaps you would like to hire a doula that also provides certain services like placenta encapsulation.

    Its ok to ask the postpartum doula if she has experience with a particular situation, condition or service.

    After learning about the postpartum doulas experience and educations, you can now learn more about her schedule and how your care will be provided by asking:
    4. HOW MANY FAMILIES DO YOU WORK WITH AT ONE TIME?

    5. IS YOUR SCHEDULE FLEXIBLE? DO YOU HAVE A BACK-UP, AND IF NOT, CAN YOU REFER ME TO ANOTHER DOULA, IF NEEDED?

    6. WHAT HAPPENS IF THE MOTHER GIVES BIRTH EARLIER (OR LATER) THAN EXPECTED?

    Each doula has her own way of scheduling clients. Some doulas schedule multiple families at one and work with a back up doula to ensure. Others may work with only on to two families at a time. Most doulas schedule family strategically based on the baby’s due date, so its important to know when you care will start if your baby comes earlier or later than anticipated. This is the time to learn about how your prospective doula does things.
    Get a feel for the types of resources the prospective doula can connect you to by asking:
    7. HOW DO YOU SUPPORT A PARENT AT RISK FOR A POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDER?

     

    Your prospective postpartum doula should have a list of a variety of community resources to connect you will after giving birth. One of the main goals of a postpartum doula is to help a new parent find and build their village. This network of support can include family, friends and professionals, like a postpartum doula.

    This one is self-explanatory. You need to know if you can afford to hire this prospective doula:
    8. WHAT IS THE FEE FOR YOUR SERVICES?

    9. DO YOU OFFER A PAYMENT PLAN, SLIDING SCALE OR BARTER FOR SERVICES?

    If your prospective postpartum doula’s fee is more than you anticipated or can afford, its worthwhile to ask about  a payment plan, sliding scare or bartering. Many postpartum doulas are willing to work  with you.

    Lastly, see what other moms like you are saying about your prospective postpartum doula:
    10. CAN YOU PROVIDE REFERENCES FROM OTHER FAMILIES YOU’VE WORKED FOR?

    Ask for references, client reviews and/or testimonials so that you can read/ hear the real experiences of families who have worked with this postpartum doula. If you like the postpartum doula but find that a reference or review raises more questions or concerns, do not hesitated to reach out to the postpartum doula to address them.

    The postpartum doula interview is a chance for you to get to know the postpartum doula before you invite her into your family’s home. Write down your questions in advance, to ensure that you get the best idea of how the postpartum doula will fit into your life.

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    What other questions should new moms asks a prospective postpartum doula?

  • How to Find a Postpartum Doula Near You

    As a mother and a postpartum doula, I firmly believe that you and any woman giving birth deserves unbiased, practical postpartum support in the comfort of you home. And I’d be willing to bet that you and any birthing woman would agree.

    Unfortunately, it’s not so simple to just believe that every family should have access to a postpartum doula. You need to know what exactly a postpartum doula does and how to find them near you.

    Where does one even start when looking for a postpartum doula?

    Google Search:

    First you are going to do a google search for postpartum doulas in your city. My favorite search term is “postpartum doula in Bowie Maryland.” Just switch out my city and state for yours. Check the first 3 pages for doulas near your city and write down the information for any doulas that interest you.

    Ask Around:

    Now its time to get some personal referrals.

    Ask family or friends if they have worked with a doula or know anyone else who has.  This is a great way to get uncensored, real-talk, experiences about working with a postpartum doula.

    Ask your OB/GYN if they can recommend professional support for you based on your needs. Your OB/GYN may have more knowledge working with birth doulas who provide labor support but they should be able to point you in the right direction.

    Ask other providers who lead parenting classes, play groups, and provide breastfeeding support. Leaders of national groups like La Leche League and Moms of Multiples might also be able to help. These professionals usually have a large network or family related resources.

    Doula Directories:

    Now, that you’ve asked around and gotten ideas from friends, family and local professionals its time to take our search back to the internet. Online directories are a great way to find local doulas who are available around your due date or who have specializations like experience working with multiples or being LGBTQ friendly.

    Two of my favorite websites for finding local birth and postpartum professionals are:

    • SistaMidwife Productions, LLC.  – search for black midwives, doulas and other birth professionals by State
    • DoulaMatch.net – search for birth doulas, postpartum doulas and childbirth education by due date and zip code. You can also narrow down the search by specialization and other services offered.
    • There are also several other website that list doulas. Check them out here.

    Birth Networks:

    Another great place to find caring birth professionals are area birth networks like the Maryland Birth Network and the DC- based Birth Options Alliance.

    Social Media:

    Last but not least, we take our search to social media. Social media is a great way to find postpartum doulas that are active and to see how they interact with moms like you. Social media is also a great place to find reviews and feedback on a particular postpartum doula. To search for a postpartum doula near you, can try searching hashtags like #marylanddoula or #marylandpostpartumdoula but with your state  (or city) in place of mine

    • Facebook– Hit the search bar and try searching for phrases like “Maryland postpartum doula.” Narrow your search by selecting Pages or Places. There may be a lot to sift through but you can also read reviews to help weed out the doulas who may not be a good fit.
    • Instagram– Search Places and enter your city. Or try searching a hashtag like #marylandpostpartumdoula  but with your state in place of mine. When you find a postpartum doula you think you might connect with scroll through their feed to get a better feel for their style. Check to see if they are on any other social media platforms to get a broader sense of their service offerings.

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    Finding a postpartum doula can be a confusing process. Keep your search focused by including your city and/ or state in your search terms. If you aren’t having much luck, try searching neighboring cities, your county or you closest metropolitan area.

    And if ALL else fails reach out to a postpartum doula like me and ask if they can help you find someone who works in your area.

  • 25 Things a Postpartum Doula Does

    By now, you may have heard about birth doulas and why you absolutely must have one at your birth. But do you know what a postpartum doula is? Some might argue that a postpartum doula is even more essential than a birth doula.

    But what exactly does a postpartum doula do?

    Really, it depends on your unique needs after giving birth. A first time mom bringing home her baby will have a very different set of needs than a mom bring home her 3rd or 4th baby.

    Your pregnancy and delivery will also determine what kind of help you need after giving birth. Moms who have preeclampsia or gestational diabetes may need closer monitoring following labor and delivery. Moms who had a cesarean or tearing may need extra help with cooking and chores so that they can stay off of their feet.

    Regardless of your needs a postpartum doula can help you in the following ways:

    1. Listen to and help you process your birth story.

    2. Talk through and help you process fears you might have surrounding your postpartum recovery.

    3. Recognize risks and signs of postpartum depression and make referrals for mental health support.

    4. Coach you on how to ask for and accept help. Help you find your voice to say “no” to support that is not aligned with your goals.

    5. Recognize normal physical recovery. Make referrals when necessary.

    6. Go with you to your postpartum check-up and hold your baby so you can get the most out of your visit.

    7. Go with you on your first outing with your baby so that you don’t feel overwhelmed or alone.

    8. Hold your baby so you can take a nap, a shower, a walk, read a book, journal or whatever self-care you need.

    9. Bring you food and drink so you can stay in bed with your baby.

    10. Help organize all of the baby stuff you have.

    11. Help set up a safe sleep space in your or your baby’s room.

    12. Help set up a breastfeeding space so you have all of your nursing essentials at your fingertips.

    13. Provide hands on breastfeeding help and education.

    14. Support your breastfeeding goals without judgment.

    15. Provide evidenced based education on other feeding methods like feeding your baby pumped milk or even using formula, if that is your choice.

    16.  Model how to hold, bathe, dress, swaddle and calm your baby so you can feel confident in your new skills.

    17. Help navigate through all of the baby gear to help you find what works for you and your family without the hassle.

    18. Show you how to wear your baby for even closer snuggles and skin to skin bonding.

    19. Process your placenta for alternative healing, at your request.

    20. Help with some household chores so you can focus on your recovery, breastfeeding and bonding.

    21. Run errands for you so that you can rest and recover.

    22. Pick up groceries so you can focus on your baby.

    23. Prepare freezer meals or prep veggies and fruits for nourishing meals and snacks that support postpartum recovery.

    24. Show you how to wrap your postpartum belly for extra support as your body adjusts to not being pregnant.

    25. Work with dad, grandparents and other caregivers to strengthen your baby’s village.

    Now, don’t you agree that everyone becoming a new parent deserves THAT level of care and support after bring their new baby home?

    Postpartum doulas are an amazing addition to a new mom’s support network.Now that you know just some of the things a postpartum doula can do its time to think about how a postpartum doula can benefit you specifically.

    A great place to start is to think about 2 or 3 of the biggest struggles you anticipate facing after birth. Jot down your answers on this free worksheet. You can use it later on to start a postpartum plan or as a guide when interviewing postpartum doulas.

    Next, think about 2 or 3 (or more!) people in your current village that you can count on to support you through each struggle.

    Third, write how they can specifically help you face this challenge.

    Do you have enough coverage? You may or may not. But the reality is postpartum is more than 2 or 3 issues that arise and then go away. You are constantly experimenting and adapting to your baby.

    The early days after your baby is born might seem great but you will also be vulnerable, raw and evolving.

    Think about somethings you feel you might need help with but not feel so comfortable asking a family member or friend to do.

    If you are not so sure about who you can rely on, it may be time to consider broadening your postpartum support network. Luckily, there are lots of caring professionals ready to help you out in real, practical ways after giving birth. You deserve it!

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