• What is a postpartum doula?

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides physical, emotional and educational support to the parents during the postpartum period.

• What does a postpartum doula do?

A postpartum doula’s role changes from day to day, as the needs of the family change. Postpartum doulas do whatever is necessary to help a family best enjoy and care for their new baby. Doulas share information and educate the family about baby care and infant feeding, as well as teach siblings and partners to nurture the mother and each other. Postpartum doulas make sure the mother is fed, well hydrated and comfortable.

• How long does a postpartum doula spend with a family?

Support varies from family to family. Traditionally a postpartum doula can work for any amount of time within the first three months of the child’s life. It can be anywhere from a few visits to many.

• How long do postpartum visits last?

I require a minimum of four hours per visit, but some last up to eight hours or more. The minimum is requested so that I will most likely be able to assist with a feeding — either breast or bottle — within that time frame.

• When should I hire a postpartum doula?

It is best to hire as early as possible to make sure that your doula is available and committed to work with you. It also helps to have the interview process completed and someone available to help you immediately postpartum. But don’t be afraid to ask for help if you find that you need support after the baby is born. I can usually schedule time for you.

• Can we speak to your references?

Of course! References are available upon request.

• How much do you charge?

Please contact me to discuss rates.

• What is the difference between a baby nurse and a doula?

The role of a postpartum doula is to help a woman through her postpartum period and to nurture the family. Unlike a baby nurse, a doula’s focus is not solely on the baby, but on fostering independence for the entire family. The doula is as available to the father and older children as to the mother and the baby.

• How does a doula work with the mother’s partner?

A doula respects the partner’s role and input, and teaches concrete skills that will help the partner nurture the baby and mother. The doula will share evidence-based information with the partner that shows how his or her role in the early weeks will have a dramatic positive effect on the family.

• Are there things a doula will not do?

I do not diagnose medical conditions in the mother or baby. However, I will refer you to a health care provider when appropriate. I do not take over fulltime care of your baby. I will assist you in learning to care for your baby’s needs.

Parts of this have been adapted from: Nurturing the Family: The Guide for Postpartum Doulas by Jacqueline Kelleher (Xlibris Corporation, 2002) and DONA.org