Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula
“POSTNATAL DOULA, SHE SAYS, IS (USUALLY) A WOMAN WHO COMES AND NURTURES YOU, NOURISHES YOU AND LOVES YOU SO THAT YOU CAN NURTURE, NOURISH AND LOVE YOUR BABY. SHE TAKES CARE OF YOU EMOTIONALLY, PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY SO THAT YOU CAN REST AND RECOVER FROM PREGNANCY AND BIRTH AND TRANSITION INTO MOTHERING IN SUCH A WAY THAT DOES NOT DEPLETE YOU BUT RATHER BUILDS YOU UP AND ENCOURAGES YOU. SHE HELPS GUIDE YOU TO YOUR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT PARENTING AND MOTHERING, SHE ENCOURAGES AND HELPS YOU FIND YOUR CONFIDENCE. SHE MAKES MEALS FOR YOU WHEN NEEDED AND PREPARES FOOD FOR YOU TO COOK YOURSELF AND TIDIES UP WHEN THAT'S THE SUPPORT YOU NEED. SHE IS ALWAYS LOVING AND EMPATHETIC AND PROVIDES SUPPORT COMPLETELY FREE OF JUDGEMENT. A POSTNATAL DOULA ASSISTS YOU WITH BREASTFEEDING AND HELPS YOU BUILD THE COMMUNITY AND VILLAGE YOU NEED TO BE THE MOTHER YOU WISH TO BE. SHE PROVIDES MASSAGES AND BELLY BINDING AND MOST OF ALL SHE LISTENS. SHE DOES NOT TRY TO RESCUE A MOTHER WHO IS UNSURE, SHE INSTEAD INSISTS THAT A MOTHER TRULY KNOWS WHAT IS RIGHT FOR HER BABY AND HELPS HER FIND HER VOICE TO SAY WHAT SHE NEEDS AND HOW SHE NEEDS IT. SHE IS THERE FOR THE MOTHER, TO HELP AND GUIDE AND SUPPORT THE MOTHER. BECAUSE WHEN A MOTHER IS WELL SUPPORTED, SHE IS IN THE BEST POSITION TO TAKE CARE OF HER BABY WITHOUT SACRIFICING HER OWN HEALTH AND WELLBEING.”
A day in the life of a daytime postpartum doula is different with every parent and varies depending on the needs and mood of the family. Every client’s needs are unique and can change daily and that’s OK. My job as a doula is to offer hands-on education, emotional and physical support in a way that will bring you the greatest peace and joy as well as education to empower you to care for yourself and your new baby.
Typically, I arrive anywhere between 8-9 am and work 5-6-hours or whatever is needed for that day.
8-9 am: When I arrive, I will sit with my clients and discuss the priorities for that day and ask for any goals they have in mind. As a mindful listener, I will ask questions and hold space for birth story processing because when a baby is born, so is a parent and there can often be growing pains.
During the morning time, I will play soft music and diffuse essential oils (with the client’s permission), and get the baby cozy and settled. I then make a delicious, healthy protein-based snack or breakfast for mama. While she eats, we discuss nutritious foods that I can prepare for the entire family- including foods to promote a healthy milk supply for breastfeeding mothers. I will clean the kitchen spotless and encourage mama to get some personal time and sleep.
10:30-11 am: Clients are exhausted and this is a wonderful time for their self-care which most often involves a herbal bath for parents and baby or a sitz bath for healing. This promotes optimal relaxation which is oftentimes followed by hands-free time so they can tend to emails, personal phone calls, reading, etc. I love to encourage them to sit outside while sipping a delicious herbal tea. This personal time is essential to their well-being and most often they will nap until lunchtime. Baby is settled and napping or I wear the baby and do light cleaning, wash and fold laundry, restock baby essential items in the nursery and stations around the house and prepare a shopping list. I will also get lunch ready for mama and meal prep for dinner.
12-2 pm: Mama is up and well-rested and is so appreciative of my support—it truly brings calm and peace to her day. This is now bonding time with my parents as they usually have so many questions related to baby sleep, milestones, etc. We discuss this and I provide valuable resources related to their baby. Mama is still a bit full from breakfast so she instead snacks on fresh veggies, hummus, and a lactation cookie. Mama will nurse or give a bottle and I will be right by her side to offer tips. Many times we will discuss paced-bottle feeding, etc.
2-3 pm: During this time we will give the baby a bath—I will demonstrate and then let the parents take over as my job is to empower and encourage them. I will show them all the different ways to massage their little one, particularly techniques to aid in tummy discomfort which most babies experience from time to time throughout their infancy. I will show them tips and tricks for diaper changing. We will then spend some time with the baby outdoors as indirect sunlight is essential for sleep and proper growth and development. Sometimes parents use this time to run an errand or go for a walk.
3 pm: It’s about time to leave so we discuss some soothing techniques for the nighttime and watch Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s together. I will usually be back within the next few days so we discuss our plan which sometimes involves going to a pediatrician appointment together and topics to go over next such as belly binding for pelvic and muscular support, baby yoga to help strengthen their little muscles, etc.
I am excited to bring some homemade chicken soup that they’ve been craving and anything else they need for the week. I reassure them to call or text me between my shifts as I am always available for my clients.
It takes a village to raise a family and it is a true honor to be invited into this space and support people as they transition into the hardest, yet most rewarding job of their lives. We doula’s not only get to witness the beginning of life but the beginning of parenthood; an equally beautiful metamorphosis! I am so lucky to have found this work and be able to do it every day!