My hubby and I attended a “Meet the Doulas Night” hosted by the Doulas of Rhode Island. There we learned about birth doulas, and postpartum doulas. Below is my opinion of what a postpartum doula is and does.

From what I hear, one of the chief complaints new parents have is the overwhelming fear and confusion that occurs when they take home their tiny baby from the hospital. Gone are the helpful nurses, who are there to show you how to hold or burp your baby. Gone is the round the clock support. Now it’s just you, your partner, and this squirmy-crying-confused little thing that completely relies upon you. Yikes.

Sure, you can turn to a mom blog or a book, seeking advice. Problem is, they aren’t there to physically help you. Maybe your family or friends with baby experience live far away, and can’t necessarily show you how to swaddle…or maybe you would become more stressed if they were there looking over your shoulder. Instead, one may feel more comfortable with a doula.

The average price for a postpartum doula in Rhode Island is $20.00 an hour. One can think of them as an expensive babysitter, but they are so much more.

A postpartum doula is like Super Nanny – meets baby guru – meets sanity saver. These women love newborns, and have made it their life’s profession to care for the tiny babies, as well as care for the new moms and dads. They do not judge, criticize, or scrutinize your parenting skills. Instead, they guide and support.

First, they check up on and care for the new mom, who is most likely going through some major emotional and hormonal changes. Many mothers feel like crap, are wearing an adult diaper, fear using the toilet, don’t sleep, haven’t eaten, can’t figure out how to breastfeed, are recovering from surgery, and all the while are expected to parade their newborn around their friends and family. No wonder so many moms cry or have postpartum depression issues. Sadly, mom’s doctor appointment is generally two weeks after birth. If she is already sad or overwhelmed, a lot of important time has already passed.

A doula will help the new mom feel empowered and confident about caring for her squirmy squishy newborn, as well as herself. They will help with organizational support (something I will most certainly need) as well as help with breastfeeding. They educate new parents on ways to understand and help their tiny baby, and these tips and hands on lessons change as the parents and baby’s needs change.

A doula is also a worn out parent’s lifesaver. Have a newborn and don’t feel like you have time to shower? No problem, the doula is here! Need help making dinner, help with the laundry, or possibly want to fit in a nap? Thank you, postpartum doula. Maybe mom is feeling confident, but her partner could use a bit more encouragment and guidance. Doulas can help there as well. Possibly, you have an entirely gross postpartum personal question that you old never ask your friends (and you know you shouldn’t Google). Ask away!

In addition to being a great help to the parents, postpartum doulas are newborn baby experts. While understanding that each baby is unique, they can help translate different behaviors or signs that we as new parents may not understand. They can attend your baby’s doctor visits with you, and will help inform you about your different medical options. They are helpful with just about any other circumstance a new parent could face.

Postpartum doulas come to the tiny baby’s home, and can spend full days to a few hours each week assisting the new parents. The schedule is something the parents and doula work out, together.

The Doulas of Rhode Island host a free meet and greet once a month. There, parents are invited to watch an informative video, ask questions, and then meet several doulas.

For a list of Rhode Island based postpartum doulas, click this link. There you will find bios, as well as pictures and contact information for the women. If you’re thinking about hiring a doula, interview a few.

What aspects of bringing home a tiny baby are/were the most worrisome to you?