Why postnatal doulas aren’t just for the rich and famous

postnatal doulas are not just for the rich and famous

My background is in childcare and I am a professional Nanny. I’ve been working with children in different capacities for 20 years now and training to become a postnatal doula was something that made sense to me. I love supporting parents and their young families – especially during a period of transition, when a new baby comes along.

Why did I become a postnatal doula?

My passion to support parents was ignited as a girl. I remember coming across Tracy Hogg ‘The Baby Whisperer‘ who was a nurse but her role with the parents and babies was quite similar to a Maternity Nurse. This sounded like a good role I could do so when I was older I trained as a maternity nurse. I then came across doula work and from the moment I heard about the work of a postnatal doula, I knew it was for me. Being from Northern Ireland, I felt postnatal support was lacking in both the practical sense and information sense. I wanted to help change that.

My passion to support parents was ignited as a girl.

There are many organisations popping up now offering doula training. These courses provide essential information and education as well as giving guidance on how to use reflective practice and emotional intelligence effectively when working with new families. I chose to train with Nurturing Birth as I loved their ethos and the mentoring that came after the course was invaluable. It helped me get started and learn what it was that I wanted to provide within my doula services. I am now able to offer postnatal doula support alongside my Nanny work.

What does a postnatal doula do?

Emotional support is the basics of what doulas can provide a family: A listening ear for parents to air their concerns, or to hear parents’ thoughts and worries after a difficult time. Perhaps they has a difficult birth or a difficult journey to become parents. It’s about giving them the space to just soak up that oxytocin and their happiness together following a positive birth.

Doulas listen to families’ birth stories and often hear them repeatedly, listening carefully each time parents play out the scene again. Parents report feeling better about their experience when they have been listened to, had their experiences validated and not judged for how their journey unfolded. The emotional labour of so many things to think about, all the task lists and meeting all the family’s needs can be difficult to navigate in the early days and weeks with a newborn baby.

Postnatal doulas provide essential emotional support

Doulas provide both emotional and practical support, which is flexible depending on the wishes and needs of the individual parents. Essentially, the emotional support provided by a postnatal doula and the action of just ‘being there’ matters. Listening and providing consistent support are physiological needs of human beings for them to feel reassured and safe. The nurturing presence of a doula providing familiar and consistent support for some families is considered essential to the mental health and well-being of the family. 

Doulas provide both emotional and practical support, which is flexible depending on the wishes and needs of the individual parents.

As doulas we know our limits in regards to advice and helping with issues that might crop up. When we signpost to other professionals this must not be underestimated. The sharing of different links, social media groups, local parenting sessions, support groups or organisations where parents can search for more information to support them where required. This can be invaluable and it helps the parents to have something in writing to refer to when the issue pops up and they can’t remember what we said.

Why hire a postnatal doula?

To explain in just a few words, who wouldn’t want an extra pair of hands around? A listening ear, an extra shoulder to cry on. Parenting in this era can be so challenging especially with the prevalence of social media in our lives. When you’re a new parent that requires additional support, trying to find accurate information and deciphering it can be hard. This is where a doula can be so helpful. They are a trusted professional with whom you’ve created a bond with.

Parenting in this era can be so challenging especially in the era of social media.

An important element of being a postnatal doula is the ability to listen to parents’ concerns whilst making informed decisions. You want to support them in finding the information to make those decisions. You want to advocate for them where needed to ensure their voice is heard. Families who engage in doula support have reported that they feel they benefitted more than they could ever have hoped for.

newborn baby lying on bed with light shining through window

Are postnatal doulas only for the rich and famous?

Despite most media coverage of doulas whether that be in print or within movies etc, as a new ‘must-have’ of the privileged, doulas have been providing support to all kinds of families for as long as there have been people giving birth. From the informal, unspoken agreement of friends and family who pop by and make meals, do school runs and tidy around for new parents, to organised meal plans from community groups and/or church groups families receiving the support of others is not a new trend.

Doulas have been providing support to all kinds of families for as long as there have been people giving birth.

Postnatal support isn’t always solely funded by the families. It can be in the form of charity support although here in Northern Ireland (where I live and work) some charities are criteria based. Some charities to check out are Home Start UK (you can select which region you’re in for more detailed info) Women’s Aid, Doulas Without Borders, Tinylife these organisations listed are just a few available for Postnatal support.

Postnatal doula support benefits all new parents

In today’s world we have lots of variations in what the family unit looks like that. Postnatal doula support is recognised as being hugely beneficial to all new parents. Many new families don’t have extended family around them to help out. Postnatal doulas can fill in the gaps that the extended family might have filled back in the day – as well as much more.

The support each family needs looks different. No two families need the same support, and as babies grow and develop new skills, the specific needs of a family naturally evolve.

Doula support involves a range of skills to fully support each family as and when they require. When we do not have the tools to hand or are not qualified to make diagnoses (for example reflux or when to get a tongue tie cut) we signpost to the most appropriate support.  Most doulas will have training from various backgrounds whether it be in their professional career or their parenting experiences.

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