Postpartum Doulas, Nannies, and Babysitters, Oh my!

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Where were you when my baby was little?! I wish I would have known!” in response to my description of what a postpartum doula does. Clearly there is a huge need, but the  term “postpartum doula” still has a way to go before it makes its way into the public consciousness.  If you want to read about Doulas of Memphis postpartum doulas, you can click here, but I’d like to take a moment to break down the differences between a postpartum doula and some of its alternatives. postpartum doulas

Babysitters vs. Postpartum Doulas

While postpartum doulas do occasionally step into a babysitting-type role, babysitting is not one of the primary duties of a postpartum doula. A babysitter is typically hired for temporary or short-term childcare where the parent is either absent, or at home and unavailable. The babysitter’s focus is solely on the care of children, not on household tasks or the well-being of the mother. A postpartum doula’s focus is on caring for and nurturing the mother. Sometimes that includes baby care or looking after older siblings, but not as a general rule and always in the context of the mother’s needs.

Housekeepers vs. Postpartum Doulas

Basic household tasks are well within the postpartum doula’s scope, but they are just that: basic. While a postpartum doula will do your dishes, cycle your laundry, give your counters and sinks a quick wipe-down, and help you deal with that one clutter spot that’s driving you crazy, we do those things because they provide relief for parents. Time normally spent on mundane daily tasks instead becomes time for self care, to connect as a family, and bond with their baby.

Nannies vs. Postpartum Doulas

The job description of a nanny overlaps the most with that of a postpartum doula.  Both a nanny and a postpartum doula assist with baby care, sibling care, and do simple tasks that keep a household running. A nanny might even stay overnight and assist with nighttime baby care, but that’s where the similarities stop.  Hiring a nanny is a long-term childcare and home management solution, and a nanny may or may not have any kind of certification or credentials.

Doulas of Memphis postpartum doulas are not only well-versed in infant care, but also in what families are going through physically and emotionally during the postpartum period. You can ask your doula questions about postpartum recovery, what’s normal, and what warrants a call to your doctor. Doulas of Memphis postpartum doulas are also trained birth doulas, which provides a framework in which a postpartum client can discuss her birth if she so chooses. Unless she has an outside certification or personal experience, a nanny does not provide breastfeeding assistance. Doulas of Memphis postpartum doulas are trained in assisting mothers with normal breastfeeding and are able to refer clients to additional lactation support if it is needed. Much like a postpartum doula, a  night nanny (aka “baby nurse”) takes care of your baby during the night so that you can get the sleep you’ve been craving. The biggest difference is that the nanny is there exclusively for the baby, while the postpartum doula is there for the whole family.  Your postpartum doula can take over night-time bottle feeding, or bring your baby to you if you are breastfeeding. She is available to listen, validate, and help if things feel hard, and to answer those new mom questions that may be keeping you up at night. Nannies do form relationships and care about the families they serve, a nanny’s primary concern is not the emotional well-being of the mother. For a postpartum doula, the physical and emotional well-being of the mother is top priority! Those mundane tasks aren’t mundane to us, and we do all of it with a desire to provide you with same the loving, attentive care that you give to your baby.