Are you considering hiring a nighttime postpartum doula, but aren’t sure what this type of support looks like? This blog post is for you!
Like many people, you may be confused about the difference between postpartum doulas and night nurses. Night nurses, or night nannies, work in their clients’ homes and provide care for infants throughout the night. Postpartum doulas also work in their clients’ homes and provide care for infants throughout the night. So what’s the difference? The difference is that a postpartum doula’s scope of practice is not limited to newborn care. Postpartum doulas provide holistic care and support for the whole family and assist with a variety of tasks throughout the night to support the entire household. The work of a postpartum doula is especially focused on caring for the mother-baby dyad.
The typical postpartum doula shift is scheduled from 10pm- 6am, although some parents opt for a 10 or 12 hour shift. Every postpartum shift looks different, depending on the needs of the family. However, there are a few aspects of postpartum night care that look the same for nearly every family:
Postpartum doulas care for the baby throughout the night so that parents can have time to themselves to relax and catch up on sleep
Postpartum doulas bring the baby to mom to be fed, or bottle-feed the baby themselves so that the parents can sleep through the night
Postpartum doulas complete light household tasks- such as dishes, the baby’s laundry, or washing and sanitizing bottles
Every newborn is different, but, on average, a newborn will wake every 2-3 hours to feed during the first few weeks of life. This can be hard, even for second or third-time parents. Sleep is one of the pillars of postpartum healing, and unfortunately exhaustion can lead to frustration, feelings of despair, and even postpartum depression. Raising a baby truly does take a village. Hiring a postpartum doula to help out a few nights a week can make all the difference for exhausted parents!
Feeding support is one of the major tenets of postpartum night work. Doulas are well-versed in infant feeding. Personally, I have spent countless hours washing and sanitizing bottles, mixing formula, and feeding babies so that parents are able to sleep soundly through the night. I’ve also spent many nights alongside breastfeeding moms- supervising the baby’s latch and recommending alternate feeding positions when needed, troubleshooting common breastfeeding issues like engorgement and mastitis, and engaging in conversation with moms to make the long nights pass a little faster. Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, rest assured that we will support your feeding journey enthusiastically and without judgement.
Another major aspect of postpartum support is care for the mother. As a postpartum doula, I make it a priority to ensure that the mother is well-fed and hydrated throughout the night. I will make sure that she has a full water bottle, snacks, and a warm mug of lactation tea. New moms have a lot going on, and sometimes self-care gets put on the backburner. Not on my watch! I like to start off my postpartum shifts by drawing a warm sitz bath for mom, lighting a few candles, and letting her soak uninterrupted for as long as she wants to. Postpartum doulas are also well-versed in postpartum healing and will make recommendations and referrals to other professionals, such as lactation consultants or massage therapists, when necessary.
First time parents often hire postpartum doulas to provide basic infant care education. Some parents that I have worked with never changed a diaper before their baby’s arrival. Having a newborn care expert in your home can be a great choice for parents who aren’t yet completely confident in their newborn care skills. I often say that as postpartum doulas we like to work ourselves out of a job- we work with families until they have mastered the skills and established the routines needed to care for their baby without our assistance!
Doulas are also great at providing a listening ear. Postpartum is a beautiful and joyous time, but the transition into parenthood is difficult for everyone. We listen compassionately and without judgement and hold space for the many emotions that arise during this tender time.
If you are interested in learning more about what nighttime postpartum support could look like for your family, please contact us! We would love to support your family.