Frequently Asked Questions
Why do families hire a postpartum doula?
The first few months with a new baby/babies is a precious time for a new family and, as will you will often be reminded, passes in the blink of an eye. The first three months of a baby’s life, also known as the 4th trimester, sets the tone for your family and how you feel as a parent for years to come.
Without their cozy womb and handy umbilical cord, your infants arrival is quite the adjustment. The 4th trimester is a transitional time for everyone. It takes time for parents and siblings to adjust to an additional person or people with new needs, sounds, and so many tiny clothes to be laundered.
Ideally, the rest of the world would wrap your new family up in a blanket of support. (paid parental leave, home-cooked meals, medical home-visits, family and friends nearby, etc.) and silence the demands of the outside world for them as they rest, heal and enjoy this precious time together.
Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Especially in our current industrialized western culture.
Many other cultures have long traditions of supporting a family for the 4th trimester or first 40 days. They often include the birth parent resting horizontally and being served warm, nourishing food while others hold the baby or support mom and baby in bonding by accomplishing other childcare or other household tasks.
Postpartum Doulas are growing in popularity as a new necessity but they have always existed in one form or another. Now that families are more spread out, postpartum doulas often fill in where your sister, mother or auntie would have before - except without family baggage/judgment.
Families hire a postpartum doula because they want to be present and cherish this precious time together as a new family and they need a new village of support, just as we have needed since the beginning of time.
What is a postpartum doula? How is it different than a baby nurse?
A postpartum doula provides a bridge of support as you grow into your new life by providing expertise, resources, and an extra set of hands so you and your family can rest and bond with your new baby. A postpartum doula nurtures the whole family.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves.”
A postpartum doula provides physical, emotional, and informational support in the days, weeks, or months following the arrival of your baby. A doula's role at times may be as simple as holding your baby while you shower and sleep, or talking with you about your experiences as a parent. A postpartum doula will also act as a source of information, providing referrals as needed. Each day's tasks will depend on your priorities, as discussed before beginning services, and can be adjusted to meet your needs as your postpartum experience progresses.
In contrast, a baby nurse cares for your baby so you can sleep and take care of the rest of your life. Unlike a postpartum doula who cares for the parents while they are recovering from birth and then gradually teaches the parents how to parent so they can carry on without their doula after a few weeks or months.
When should I contact Bridgetown Baby?
It’s never too early to start a postpartum plan. We offer a free in-home consultation/interview. This is a chance to talk about your postpartum goals, worries, and how a postpartum doula can help. It is also a chance to think about how you will have the proper amount of support over the first three months with a combination of friends, family, and doulas.
At Bridgetown Baby, we believe the 4th trimester with your baby is when you set the tone for your relationship with your new baby/babies and as a parent. Thus, we believe postpartum plans are just as important as birth plans. We are committed to helping you create a plan that will provide the right amount of physical, emotional, and informational support for your family so you can fully rest, heal and bond with your baby/babies. Of course the plan may unfold differently than anticipated, such is parenting, but you will still be on your way to feeling strong and confident by the end of the 4th trimester.
What does a postpartum doula do during the day?
Daytime visits are usually 4-6 hrs. between 9am-5pm. At the beginning of each visit, your doula will help you prioritize 2-4 goals for the visit. Examples include; a shower, a nap, help with breastfeeding, cooking a pot of soup for dinner, giving the baby a bath together, and/or completing two loads of laundry. We can also accomplish a lesson on babywearing, provide you with time to return a few phone calls, and/or a sitz bath.
We can also spend one-on-one time with the partner/papa/grandparent on bottle-feeding, swaddling or simply answering newborn questions.
What does a postpartum doula do during the night?
The main goal for a nighttime doula visit is to maximize the parent/s opportunity for sleep. Because is there anything more valuable and fleeting than sleep after a new baby?!
We encourage the mother/birth parent to mostly stay in bed and let us do all the moving about and for the partner/non-birth parent to sleep in another room if possible. Our night visits are typically 9 hours (9pm-6am) but they can be adjusted to be 8-12 hours long.
The doula can assist with nighttime feedings by providing either breastfeeding support or simply bringing the baby to you to nurse and return when you are finished. We are also happy to bottle-feed the baby so the parents can sleep.
A postpartum mother/birth parent has considerable healing to do to physically recover from birth and sleep is a critical time for healing. Partners/Papas can also be running on empty after the birth and desperately needs sleep to recharge so they can be present and available during the daytime.
How long do families typically work with a postpartum doula?
Our goal is for you to feel ready to parent without doula support by 3 months postpartum. You should be physically healed, feel emotionally settled and confident about your ability to care for your children. Essentially, our goal is to work ourselves out of a job.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule. We often work with families with multiples longer and make exceptions for single parents, family illness or if a partner needs to travel for work, etc.
How do you support the non-birth parent/partner?
As doulas, our role is to support the entire family unit and that includes non-birth parents or partners! We love to make sure partners are also well-fed, well-rested, and prepared to exit the fourth trimester with confidence.
As the birth parent needs rest to heal, we can assist partners in finding the best ways to support the birth parent to allow for this.
As a birth parent rests, we can spend one-on-one time with a partner teaching bottle-feeding, swaddling or simply answering newborn questions. We also love teaching partners how to use all that wild baby gear!
What is your training?
All of our doulas are professionally trained by a third party organization such as Birthingway, DONA and CAPPA. Additionally, all of our doulas are all CPR certified and insured.
How much does a postpartum doula cost?
Our regular rates are $45/hr for daytime support and $50/hr for overnight support. However, most of our families purchase a package which includes at least 4 visits and this brings the rate down to $40/hr for daytime support and $45/hr for overnight support.
We offer gift certificates if friends or family want to give the gift of doula support and a sliding scale for families who find they need it. Many families have used a HSA to pay for their doula care as well.
How do you help if I am planning to breastfeed?
All of our doulas are trained to provide breastfeeding support. This includes help with latch and positioning, pumping, and basic helpful tips. This is all that many new nursing moms need and can be combined with daytime and overnight doula support.
Many of our Doulas are also International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). They can provide a Lactation Consult specifically focused on breastfeeding support in the comfort of your home. This includes bringing a scale to your home, doing a full assessment, pre and post feeding weight checks and a care plan that can be shared with your primary care provider.
A Consult usually takes 1-2 hours and can be a stand alone service or combined with a longer doula visit during the day or night.
Once breastfeeding is established, we can make a unique plan each visit for when you want to plan to nurse. During our overnight visits, we can bring your baby to you when s/he wakes. Then, we’ll get them back to sleep back when you are done nursing so you can spend the whole night in your bed! We can also discuss if, and when, you want to incorporate bottles as part of your overall feeding plan.
How do you help if I am planning to bottle-feed?
All of our doulas can help safely bottle-feed with formula, pumped milk, donor milk, or a combination of all—without judgment. We can also assist with things such as correct positioning or cleaning of bottles and parts.
At the beginning of each visit, we can make a unique plan for feeding. For overnight visits, we can take care of all the feedings if your goal is to maximize your sleep. We can also help teach family members and other care providers proper bottle feeding positions.
To contact Bridgetown Baby or schedule a free interview, please visit our contact form.