The word doula comes from ancient Greek and is used to refer to a professional who is experienced in childbirth, newborn care, and postpartum recovery.
Doulas today are well respected and welcomed among doctors, midwives, and nurses, as it is proven having labor support with a Birth Doula greatly decreases birth complications for the mother and the baby. In the home, Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists can help your family transition after your baby is born. Let’s explore the roles of each type of essential support.
The Role of The Birth Doula
The Birth Doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience. Birth Doulas help families connect with evidence-based resources so they can ask great questions and make informed decisions about their births. They serve as a bridge of communication between women and their providers, lifting them up to help them find their voices and advocate for the very best care.
Having a birth doula to help you prepare a birth plan and be by your side for both you and your partner through your labor and birth – and can make a huge difference in the outcome of your family’s special moment.
Research shows women who use a birth doula are:
Birth Doulas help families feel supported, easing the emotional experience of birth and also helping to create a space where the hormones of labor can work at their best. Whether a birth is completely unmedicated or medically very complex, every family can benefit from nurturing and connection at this tender, incredible time in their lives.
Birth Doulas do not deliver babies but they offer position ideas for comfort and labor progression with hands-on comfort measures like comforting touch, counter pressure, breathing techniques and other “doula magic” for families. A doula’s skilled hands and positioning tools can often help a malpositioned baby find its way through the pelvis and into the birthing parent’s arms.
Whether it’s a romantic partner, a friend or another family member like the baby’s grandma, the birth partner’s experience matters in birth. Birth Doulas are there to support every birth partner in being as involved as they’d like with the birth. Physical and emotional support make a huge difference for everyone involved. Did you know? Birth Doula Services are eligible for insurance reimbursement!
Ready to get started? FREE CONSULTATION
The Role of The Postpartum Doula
Having a Postpartum Doula is like having a personal researcher with a wide network of specialists. She’ll refer new parents to local parenting classes, pediatricians, lactation consultants, pelvic floor therapists, support groups, and more. These resources are just one of the reasons there is a decreased likelihood of Postpartum Mood Disorders with the help from a Postpartum Doula.
- 70% to 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the “baby blues”
- The reported rate of clinical postpartum depression among new mothers is between 10% to 20%
- 1 in 7 women may experience PPD in the year after giving birth
- Women with a history of depression, anxiety, or serious mood disorders are 30% to 35% more likely to develop postpartum depression
- 10% of new fathers experience symptoms of depression during the postpartum period
- Half of men who have partners with postpartum depression will go on to develop depression themselves
The Postpartum Doula provides nonjudgmental emotional support, listening and helping to process the birth story of both parents. Research shows that moms, dads and babies have an easier time with this transition if a good support team is in place.
This support for the partner for the emotional adjustment to parenthood is also vital and a Postpartum Doula can help ease them into their new role and the transition in their relationship with their partner. It’s a fact that Dads, or the non-birthing parent, who have doulas learn skills earlier and are more able to take on care of their infant alone earlier.
A Postpartum Doula also provides physical support in the mother’s recovery after labor, encouraging eating and drinking adequate fluids, and allowing time for the unique needs of a new mother’s body through self-care, including showering and essential rest.
A Postpartum Doula works with each family individually to find out their particular needs. The initial schedule can consist of 24-hour support for the first 48 hours after returning from the hospital. Postpartum Doula support can be contracted for a minimum of one week to a maximum of three months after the baby is home. Depending on the family’s needs, the Postpartum Doula can be hired for as little as 3 days a week part time or as many as 7 days a week. Daytime services are a minimum of 3 hour sessions and nighttime services are a minimum of 8 hours per night.
Toddlers, young children, and older siblings benefit tremendously from having a Postpartum Doula in the home as she helps them adjust to the new family member by teaching parents activities which introduce the children to bond with the new baby.
Postpartum Doulas are required to take a breastfeeding course and are experienced in assisting with breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, and education on pumping and milk storage. Research shows greater success with breastfeeding with a Postpartum Doula present, and it’s proven mothers who have doula support pump more milk.
Although Postpartum Doulas are not specialized in newborn care like a Newborn Care Specialist, they do have education on basic swaddling, diapering, grooming, umbilical cord, circumcision care, and bathing.
Having a Postpartum Doula in the home is a relief for parents as she aids them in developing their individual style of nurturing and bonding with baby while offering soothing solutions and calming techniques in the event of gas and colic.
The Postpartum Doula helps with baby’s laundry, nursery organization, changing and feeding stations. She helps with dishes, prepares snacks and teas and small meals and can grocery shop for the family as well. She even helps with pet assimilation to the baby.
Did you know? Postpartum Doula Services are eligible for insurance reimbursement!
Ready to get started? FREE CONSULTATION
The Role of The Newborn Care Specialist
A Newborn Care Specialist is an individual trained and skilled in newborn care. She provides unique expertise in all aspects of newborn care, parental education and support. It is important to note that a Newborn Care Specialist is not a Nanny and requires special training and education specific to the profession. Newborn Care Specialists are different from a Doulas in that their role is specifically geared towards infant care and towards educating the parents on newborn issues. A Certified Advanced NCS has been awarded by the Newborn Care Specialist Association based on training, education, assessment, and earned at least 2500 hours of hands-on care for newborns and unlike Doulas, are not required to take any training in breastfeeding.
The duties of an NCS include transitioning the mother into her incredible life-changing moment of motherhood while providing excellent care to the infant. Breast and bottle-feeding support, pumping and milk storage assistance, umbilical and circumcision care, grooming and bathing the baby, infant massage, baby laundry, nursery organization, and nutritional guidance for the mother.
Having a Certified Advanced Newborn Care Specialist available during your post-delivery period can help you gain confidence as well as practical skills during your early days of parenting. In addition, you can be at peace knowing your experienced caregiver is trained in this unique level of utmost postpartum care which is usually retained for a period of one week to three months. Newborn Care Specialist services are not eligible for insurance reimbursement.
Ready to get started? FREE CONSULTATION
THe Difference: Doula vs. NCS
A Postpartum Doula has a positive impact on the well-being of the entire family. The support of a Postpartum Doula has been proven to ease breastfeeding and encourages mother-infant bonding, resulting in a healthy and positive transition to life as a family. Research shows that a mother feels more secure and cared for when having a Postpartum Doula present. In fact, a Postpartum Doula’s support decreases the chances of Postpartum Mood Disorders and depression through the doula’s support: encouraging self care by mothering the new mother. Countless scientific trials examining doula care demonstrate remarkably improved physical and psychological outcomes for both mother and baby. A Postpartum Doula teaches new parents how to specifically and properly care for their newborn, easing them into their new roles by sharing newborn care techniques, teaching how to fully physically care for their baby in this special age of new life. It’s a fact that Dads, or the non-birthing parent, who have doulas learn skills earlier and are more able to take on care of their infant alone earlier. Postpartum Doulas also provide emotional support for this new transition to all family members, including grandma in her new role and siblings in welcoming the new family member. The doula helps with light housekeeping and simple meal preparation for all family members to allow downtime for the mother to rest, and for both parents to enjoy bonding with their baby. A Postpartum Doula does not take over care of the baby and goes with the mother to the doctor’s appointment, helping with the carseat, soothing baby in the back seat during the ride, carrying the mother’s diaper bag, opening car doors and clinic doors, etc. A doula does not do heavy housekeeping or insist the new parents care for their baby in any particular style.
A Newborn Care Specialist is hands-on, focusing on caring for the baby solely, relieving the parents of caring for their newborn which allows them downtime. An NCS does not perform any tasks to care for the mother’s recovery, does not prepare meals or any housekeeping, and does not tend to the siblings adjustment. If the parents need to leave to a doctor’s appointment or out to dinner or for a beauty treatment, the Newborn Care Specialist stays at their home to care for the baby. It is important to know when hiring help for your family that a Certified Newborn Care Specialist has the credentials, experience, knowledge, and professionalism to care for newborns beyond that of any other. Newborn Nannies are not Newborn Care Specialists; they are nannies who nanny for families of all ages and randomly may have a job caring for a newborn but are not trained and specialized in newborn care. It is essential to seek a specialist with comprehensive training in all areas of newborn care in order to receive exemplary care during this most precious time of your postpartum phase.
Ready to get started? FREE CONSULTATION
unique care for your family
Both Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists understand the importance of feeding, sleeping, and supporting families during this time.
Postpartum Doulas foster confidence in new parents, providing tools which enable them to care completely for their baby once their contract ends, leaving you at ease, empowered, and proud of the journey – your journey.
A Postpartum Doula who takes over care of your baby while you sleep is breaking the Doula Code of Ethics and not working as a doula (educational role to empower parents and foster maximum self-determination, working herself out of a job and ending her shifts with the parents competent and confident to care for their baby) nor is she working as a Newborn Care Specialist but she is instead working as a Night Nanny (as she has not been trained as an NCS).
Sleep deprivation in an adult results in memory loss, inability to deal with simple issues during the day and can lead to Postpartum Depression.
No mother wants to forget this most precious, incredible time in her new family’s lives! This is such a special time that nothing should be forgotten due to lack of sleep and physical stress, which often turns into unnecessary emotional stress.
Mommy sleeps when baby sleeps, and although that sounds like a good amount of rest, because newborns sleep a lot (13-20 hours daily) however babies do not actually sleep for long periods. A baby may sleep for only 50 minutes. If Mommy is breastfeeding, she wakes to feed baby every 2 ½ – 3 hours for about 45 minutes, takes another 15 to change baby’s diaper, 20 to burp, maybe another diaper change, and maybe longer to put her baby to sleep. If pumping, Mommy needs even more time to get comfortable to let her milk down and then clean the pump parts and equipment and prepare bottles for storage. The energy output is equivalent to 500 calories or a trip to the gym and now Mommy is hungry and thirsty. Then Mommy needs to wake in another 1-2 ½ hours… if she doesn’t have trouble falling back to sleep. This is bound to lead to sleep deprivation.
As adults, we are use to sleeping soundly or deeply for extended periods of time and not getting that sleep will drastically reduce Mommy’s ability to deal with the day. On top of that, Mommy’s body is going throw huge hormonal changes, and friends and family are constantly texting, calling, or stopping by to visit. Mommy also needs to take time to use the restroom, eat, shower, and bathe baby. She also needs to rest from giving birth!
If all you anticipate needing is a professional to take care of your newborn baby while you rest, then an NCS is perfect for you; but if you would like more extensive care such as breastfeeding support in the middle of the night, a network of referrals for extended support, and tools in crisis and family management, then hire a doula! Both of these professionals will take excellent care of your precious newborn.
As our client, there will be many topics to discuss to prepare you.
How do you know what to ask or expect if you haven’t been informed on what exactly to expect or ask?
No Professional is alike, nor are the philosophies.
Is your family unique? Yes, it is.
Your support should be, too.