What is a Postpartum Doula & How Can They Help?

What is a Postpartum Doula & How Can They Help?

A postpartum doula can help with a variety of tasks as you welcome your new babe into the world to help lighten the load.

Doulas are trained healthcare professionals who can provide emotional and physical support to you during childbirth and beyond.

These individuals are experienced midwives who can help support you and your goals for your new baby.

Doulas have grown significantly in popularity over the last decade or so.

DONA International—one of the oldest doula certification programs in America—has accredited 37% more postpartum practitioners between 2012 and 2017.

And there’s no wonder, with a growing amount of studies attributing postpartum doulas to a reduction in postpartum depression, enhanced maternal self-confidence, and improved rates of breastfeeding initiation.

So what are postpartum doulas, and what do they do?

Well, let’s find out.

In this article: 📝

  • What does a postnatal doula do?
  • What is the difference between a doula and a nanny?
  • What are the benefits of a doula?
  • What are the disadvantages of doulas?
  • How much is a postnatal doula?
  • Is having a doula worth it?


What does a postnatal doula do?

So what does a postpartum doula actually do?

Well, it varies ‒ different doulas can have different specialties.

Generally speaking, they tend to focus on non-medical tasks, such as:

  • Feeding or soothing the baby while you get some much-needed rest.
  • Caring for your other kids while you focus on your new baby’s needs.
  • Providing basic cooking and cleaning assistance.
  • Offering advice or recommendations on a variety of questions you may have about your newborn.

Do postpartum doulas help with breastfeeding?

Yes, some postnatal doulas can help with breastfeeding support.

But many postpartum doulas aren’t wet nurses ‒ they often don’t breastfeed your baby themselves.

Instead, they can help you to breastfeed, express breast milk, formula-feed, and pump ‒ whatever works best for you.

They can help you encourage baby to get a good latch ‒ the cornerstone of breastfeeding ‒ offer advice for nipple pain, engorgement, and mastitis, and sometimes help you work out the best breastfeeding diet for you and baby.

What is the difference between a doula and a nanny?

The main difference between doulas and nannies is that nannies are there to look after baby.

Doulas are there to provide support to both you and baby.

So if you want a helping hand for you, too, then a doula could be the best bet.

But if you’d rather be left to yourself with some support looking after baby, then a nanny could be the one for you.

What are the benefits of a doula?

There are many benefits to having a postpartum doula to help provide support after baby’s arrived.

From helping you get your much-needed rest to offering valuable advice, doulas help many moms all over the world.

More rest for you and baby

Your latest addition needs feeding as often as every two hours.

That’s two hours from the start of the last feed, not two hours from the end.

So if you feed baby at 1 am, you may need to wake them up at 3 am to eat again.

And each feed can take up to an hour.

And if you’re also using a breast pump after each feed to help your milk come in, then you may find yourself with only 30 or 40 minutes before the next feeding.


A postpartum doula can ease some of the stress and pressure from this demanding feeding process.

If you’re bottle feeding, then they can feed the baby and allow you to get some more rest.

If you’re breastfeeding and pumping, they can still help by cleaning and sterilizing the pump parts for you.

That way, everything is ready for the next feed while you get some rest.

Caring for older kids

Bringing a new baby into the house is challenging enough.

If you already have toddlers or other young kids, it can be challenging (to say the least) to make sure everyone gets the attention that they need.

A doula can act as another pair of hands to help dress young kids in the morning, read to them, and play with them while you’re focused on feeding, changing, and getting your newborn back to sleep.

Now, they’re not there to replace you entirely, just to act as another caring person in the house who can help your kids adjust to life with a new baby.

Your postpartum doula can keep them engaged in fun and educational activities so that they don’t feel left out while you’re caring for the baby.

Or, if your babe has trouble sleeping, your postpartum doula can help create a quiet and peaceful environment.

For example, they can take your kids outside to play during nap time, so they get play time and exercise while baby’s getting to sleep.

Help around the house

Cooking, cleaning, and keeping everything together on two hours sleep?

Not exactly our idea of a vacation.

Plus, getting a nutritious, balanced diet is highly recommended to both recover in the fourth trimester and to get everything your body needs for breastfeeding (if that’s your path).

So having a postpartum doula to help around the house with preparing meals, tidying, or cleaning can be a lifesaver.

Advice you actually asked for

Unfortunately, no matter how many questions you ask during your initial visits with your pediatrician, your baby will likely do something in the middle of the night that makes your heart skip a beat.

It’s amazing how many strange noises a newborn can make on a daily basis.

Even experienced parents may have questions or concerns about the habits or activities of their new baby ‒ after all, every baby is different.

So it can also be reassuring to have another experienced caregiver to help you figure out what to do.

Many postpartum doulas have worked with tens or hundreds of births and newborns ‒ from diapers to feeding, burping to baby sleep.

It’s still completely up to you whether you take their advice, and you can even choose a doula who won’t offer advice unless you ask.

It’s all about the best fit for you and your family.

Enhance your mental health

Feelings of sadness and anxiety are completely normal after giving birth. One in every ten mothers suffers from postpartum depression within a year of giving birth.

Research suggests that doulas can help enhance both your maternal confidence and lower feelings of depression and anxiety. In fact, one study found that those mamas with a doula had 57% lower odds of postpartum depression and anxiety.

However, doula or no doula, if at any point you feel like you are suffering from postpartum depression, don’t suffer in silence. Seek out the advice of a healthcare professional.

Your body and mind have been through a lot of changes mama, be kind to yourself.

What are the disadvantages of doulas?

Postpartum doulas aren’t for everyone, though.

Here are some of the disadvantages of hiring a doula:

  • They’re expensive: Doulas can range from $25 to $65 per hour ‒ and they can have a minimum amount of hours that you have to hire them for.
  • They’re not usually medically trained: For medical queries, your pediatrician is still usually the best bet.
  • Not all doulas are created equal: It’s always worth having interviews with your potential doula before you hire them, with prepared questions and scenarios. Then cross-check their answers with your pediatrician, just in case.
  • You may not agree with them: Another reason why it’s fundamental to have an interview with your doula before you hire them ‒ they may push for a non-medicated birth while you might prefer to have an epidural, for example. Judgment-free zone, please!

How much is a postnatal doula?

It varies, depending on their experience, location, expertise, and what you’re specifically hiring them to help with.

But generally speaking, you can expect to pay a minimum of $25 per hour, up to around $65 per hour.

Some may also choose to price differently ‒ like a set price for labor and birth, for example.

Is having a doula worth it?

Yes, having a postpartum doula can be super helpful in the fourth trimester while you and baby are getting used to your new life.

But doulas aren’t for everyone.

If you aren’t sure whether a doula is right for you ‒ for whatever reason ‒ have a chat with your pediatrician or experienced mom friends who have hired doulas or gone it alone.

Getting different perspectives can help you decide what’s best for you.

This is entirely your decision, mama.

So there you have it ‒ all you need to know about postpartum doulas.

If you want to chat with other moms about whether a postpartum doula is right for you, we’re having the conversation on Peanut.

And you’re more than welcome to join us, mama.


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