What is a Postpartum Doula? | Memphis Doula FAQs

You might have heard the word postpartum doula and thought “A do-what? What is a postpartum doula and what’s the point?” The word doula comes from a Greek word that means “woman who serves” and refers to a trained person who provides physical, emotional, and educational support to families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. This definition leaves much unanswered, so here are some Postpartum Doula FAQs so that you can answer the question, “What is a postpartum doula?” with confidence!

Postpartum Doula/Newborn Care Specialist FAQs

Do you have to have postpartum depression to hire a postpartum doula?

You don’t have to have postpartum depression to benefit from the support of a postpartum doula. The word postpartum simply refers to the period after a woman gives birth. However, if you are struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, a postpartum doula can help make your recovery easier by offering practical help and a listening ear.  We offer care that is complementary to the care you receive from your doctor and mental health professionals.

Is a postpartum doula like a nanny, babysitter, or housekeeper?

While a postpartum doula may perform tasks that are similar to these roles, the postpartum doula does everything through the filter of caring for the mother. While everyone else is focused on your baby, we are focused on you. Visit this post for a breakdown of the different roles and how a postpartum doula compares. 

I’ve never heard of a newborn care specialist. What’s that? How is that different from a doula?

A newborn care specialist is similar to a postpartum doula in that both work with families with new babies. A more colloquial name for a newborn care specialist is a “baby nurse.” The primary difference from a mother-focused doula is that newborn care specialists have more specific training in the ins and outs of newborn care and are mainly focused on the care of your baby. All of our newborn care specialists are also trained doulas, so you get the best of both worlds! Dual training enables us to focus on your specific needs, whether you need more help with your baby’s care or you need someone to take care of you. That can vary from day to day, and that’s okay!

Can my mom or sister be my postpartum doula or newborn care specialist?

Unless your mom or sister is a trained postpartum doula, probably not. Your family members are emotionally invested in you and your baby and we can never replace the special role they play in your life. Our postpartum doulas and newborn care specialists are trained in normal postpartum recovery and infant care and are your resident baby experts. Caring for you while nurturing your existing relationships is a priority for us.

What if I already have a lot of family support?

That’s awesome! Our doulas can come alongside your family members to help you make the most out of the early days of your new baby. We can also fill in the gaps (hello, overnight care!) to make sure that you always have the care that you want and need.

I’m nervous about having a stranger in my home. How do I know my family is safe?

That’s a normal concern, and we take safety seriously! All of our affiliated doulas have been hand-selected to contract with Doulas of Memphis and aren’t random strangers to us. Each doula carries their own liability insurance and is CPR-certified. We follow the AAP’s guidelines for safe sleep, never give medical advice, and have a strict privacy policy. As owners, we take the time to get to know your family and match you with the doula(s) who we think will be most compatible. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about our doulas, provide referrals, and put you at ease- we want you to feel safe and cared for!

Will you sleep train my baby?

Not exactly. We support your wishes as a parent and will follow any specific instructions you have. If you are still getting the hang of things, we can help you learn your baby’s cues and work with you to create an environment that is conducive to rest for the whole family.

Can you come in the daytime too?

Absolutely! We are available around the clock, including daytime and evening hours. If your partner is going back to work, we can help ease the transition and work with you to establish routines that work for you and your family. If the after work ’til bedtime hours have you feeling stressed, we can come.

Will you come with me to appointments and errands?

Yes! If you are nervous or need help with the logistics of leaving the house with your baby, our doulas can be with you every step of the way from packing your diaper bag to holding your baby while you try on clothes that fit your changing postpartum body. We’ll keep you company and provide an extra set of hands- you’ll be an on the go pro in no time.

Will you come to the hospital or be there when we come home?

Yes! If your partner has other pressing needs or an older child to tend to, we are happy to stay with you during your time in the hospital. We can also be there when you come home with your baby for the first time to help you get settled and make that “What now?” feeling a little less overwhelming.

Do you help with breastfeeding? What if I’m supplementing or formula feeding?

A postpartum doula or newborn care specialist is not a trained lactation professional, but we do have a basic knowledge of breastfeeding and can draw from our knowledge base to assist you and help create an environment that encourages and supports your breastfeeding relationship. If you need support that is outside of our scope of practice, we can direct you to the appropriate professional so that you get the care you need. If you are exclusively pumping, supplementing, or exclusively formula feeding, we are knowledgeable about handling both breast milk and formula and can support your bottle feeding relationship as well.

My baby is more than 3 months old. Can I still have a doula?

Of course! If you feel like you and your baby need the type of care that a postpartum doula provides, we will be happy to partner with you through any of your baby’s transitions. If teething, changing routines, back to work, late onset postpartum depression, or sleep challenges have you wishing for a doula, we’ve got you covered.

Ready to experience the difference a postpartum doula or newborn care specialist can make in the days after baby? Head over to our Newborn Care Specialist and Postpartum Doulas page or contact us to learn more!