A Night in the Life of a Postpartum Doula
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
Have you ever wondered what a Postpartum Doula’s day looks like? What kind of help and support they would provide to your family? You can find out all about the Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula HERE. But what about if your family is looking for help and support at night. What does that look like? Read on to discover what a Night in the Life of a Postpartum Doula looks like!
We provide a lot of our clients with support overnight as this can be one of the hardest transitions after baby arrives. Most family members and friends like to offer support during the day but that leaves those long, exhausting nights for parents to navigate on their own. It’s not healthy emotionally or physically to function on 2-4hrs of cumulative night sleep and throw in the demands of working or caring for older children and it becomes next to impossible to function without help.
A Postpartum Doula can help shoulder the burden of the demands of multiple middle-of-the-night feedings, burping, and comforting sessions, along with multiple diaper changes, giving parents the opportunity to get the restorative sleep needed to maintain a level of overall wellness.
A typical shift lasts approximately 10-hours and is completely customized for each client. We honor our families and accept that there are many different parenting methods and styles, so we tailor our night care to best support your individual family’s needs and can accommodate those who are exclusively nursing, pumping, formula feeding, or a combo of each.
8:00 pm ~ I arrive with a big hug and sit down to check in on YOU. I’ll ask all about your day; Have you eaten well? Are you feeling rested? How do you feel emotionally? Next, we move on to the baby and I can answer any questions about baby care, sleep, or feeding that you’ve had on your mind. Often during this time we’ll practice babywearing, give a baby a bath or lotion massage, review some pumping techniques, chat about postpartum sitz baths, and why your baby is SO fussy during the evening hours. We will make a list of priorities for the night and discuss anticipated feed times for the breastfeeding and/or pumping parent.
9:00 pm ~ I make my client's hot tea, fill up their water bottles, collect the baby monitor and send my tired parents off to dreamland! Overnight care is all about getting parents the sleep their body needs to reset mentally, physically, and emotionally; so that they can be fully present and rested during the day with their children and/or spouse. Once parents settled in bed I’ll use this time to restock any diaper stations, fold some baby laundry, and prepare any bottles or pump parts needed for the night. I will also do light kitchen clean-up and may prep the morning's breakfast and make some delicious high-protein lactation cookies to stimulate milk supply (dads love these as well).
10:00 pm ~ Dream feed time! I’ll change the baby’s diaper and re-swaddle them. This time I’ll use a bottle of expressed milk that was in the fridge and warm it to a perfect 98.6 temperature. I’ll keep the lights dim and gently wake the baby enough to fill their belly for a long stretch of sleep. I will burp and keep them upright for about 20 minutes after each feed to aid with optimal digestion. As your little one nods off in bed, I’ll lay down on the sofa or guest bed until they need me again. If Mom is breastfeeding, I will text her when it’s time or bring the baby to her. I will assist as needed and will track/record the feed times and intake amounts for each feeding during the night.
1:00 am ~ Baby is up again! And ready for another feeding. We have a few options for when it’s baby’s time to eat, that we will have already put a plan in place for. I send the parent a text that the baby is ready for milk, and they’ll wake up after a good 4hrs of uninterrupted sleep. I’ll bring the little one to them for a nursing session in bed, along with a cup of ice-cold water and a granola bar or some healthy nuts.
1:30 am ~ Mom can roll over and go straight back to sleep. I’ll handle the burping, getting a clean diaper, and comforting your baby back to sleep. This entire process can take anywhere from 30-90+ minutes depending on the baby’s age and temperament. Thus, without help, it often blends into the next feed and leaves parents feeling utterly exhausted. When your doula is there, you get to relish in all that extra sleep.
2:30 am ~ The monitor alerts me that the baby is starting to stir, grunt, open their eyes, and let out little whines. They aren’t hungry yet, but they need a little help getting back to sleep. Both parents are sleeping peacefully in the room next door, while I make sure that baby has every need met, including comfort, and building healthy sleep habits.
3:45 am ~ You guessed it; baby is showing their early cues for wanting milk! I use another bottle of expressed milk while parents stay in bed. I’ll feed the baby using the paced feeding method to help ensure they don’t create a preference with bottle feeds.
4:00 am ~ Mom wakes up for a 15-minute pumping session and then sends me a text that they left the bottles and parts outside the door. I come to collect the liquid gold, label the bottles with the date & time, and place them in the fridge. I’ll wash and dry the pump parts and have them ready for the next session.
5:30 am ~ While baby is snoozing contently in their crib, I’ll quietly head to the kitchen to make a quick breakfast of yogurt & granola with a side of fresh fruit for the family. I’ll toss any bottles in the sanitizer, wipe the kitchen counter, and turn on the coffee pot.
5:45 am ~ You wake up after a combined 8hrs of sleep and sneak into the hot shower for a relaxing start to your day, knowing your baby is well taken care of.
6:00 am ~ Baby is still sleeping blissfully, so I bring the monitor to you and let you enjoy that cup of coffee in silence before your baby is ready for her next feed. Sometimes I will take the sleeping baby into the parent’s room and place in the bassinet.
I send a text detailing the notes for the night (feeds, wake time, elimination, etc.) and I let you know you can text or call me with any questions throughout the day, then head out the door and look forward to seeing you for the next visit!