I trained in 2001 as a birth and postpartum doula. I also completed 80+ hours of lactation training in an IBCLC approved program.
2. Do you have one or more backup doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet her/them?
Yes, I operate a Co-Op of doulas. We are a group of independently employed doulas who function as back up for one another. This allows us to offer our clients greater flexibility in case their anticipated needs should change. Each doula is highly trained, has a criminal background check and is CPR certified. If I am not available during your timeframe, I will select a doula who best matches your needs and schedule. I will also follow up personally to make sure you are satisfied with her service.
3. Tell me about your experience as a postpartum doula.
I have extensive experience supporting families with all different needs, challenges and experiences. I am also well educated on many cultural traditions surrounding birth.
4. What is your philosophy about parenting and supporting women and their families during postpartum?
My postpartum philosophy is the same as my birth philosophy. I might have my views on what I believe is best and most appropriate, but that is limited to me and my family. My role is to empower the parent(s) to make decisions regarding the birth and care for the infant(s). I will provide evidence based information, listen and offer suggestions where appropriate.
5. May we meet to discuss our postpartum needs and the role you will play in supporting us in the postpartum period?
Absolutely. This will be part of initial postpartum interview. I will ask questions to help me understand your needs and desires. This will also let me suggest a potential doula schedule for you to best suit your needs.
6. May we call you with postpartum questions or concerns before the birth?
Absolutely. Please call, text or email with any questions you have. This will help us get to know each other better and allow you to build a trust relationship with me. Any nonemergency questions will be answered within 24 hours.
7. When do your services begin after birth?
This depends on the individual family. I have met a client at the hospital who had an especially difficult birth or who needed breastfeeding support. I have started with a family after their spouse went back to work. At the prenatal interview, this is something we will discuss in detail
8. What is your experience in breastfeeding support?
I have extensive experience helping women with all forms of breastfeeding challenges. I also completed over 80 hours of classroom training for my IBCLC. I also have an extensive network of colleagues who either have equivalent or greater experience than myself in case we need additional guidance or information.
9. Have you had a criminal background check, a recent TB test and current CPR certification?
Yes, all of the above. I remain current with all current recommendations.
10. What do postpartum doulas do?
What a postpartum doula does changes from day to day, as the needs of the family change. Postpartum doulas do whatever a mother needs to best enjoy and care for her new baby. A large part of their role is education. They share information about baby care with parents, as well as teach siblings and partners to “mother the mother.” They assist with breastfeeding education. Postpartum doulas also make sure the mother is fed, well hydrated and comfortable.
11. How long does a postpartum doula spend with a family?
Doula support can last anywhere from one or two visits to more than three months.
12. What hours can I expect a doula to work with my family?
Some doulas work fulltime, with 9 to 5 shifts. Others work three to five hour shifts during the day, or after school shifts until Dad gets home. Some doulas work evenings from around 6 pm until bedtime, 9 or 10 pm., and some work overnight. Some doulas work every day, some work one or more shifts per week.
13. What is the difference between a postpartum doula and a baby nurse?
The role of a postpartum doula is to help a woman through her postpartum period and to nurture the family. Unlike a baby nurse, a doula’s focus is not solely on the baby, but on fostering independence for the entire family. The doula is as available to the father and older children as to the mother and the baby. Treating the family as a unit that is connected and always changing enables doulas to do their job: nurture the family.
14. What is a postpartum doula’s goal?
The goal of a doula is to nurture the parents into their new roles. As they experience success and their knowledge and self-confidence grow, their needs for professional support should diminish.
15. How does a doula nurture the parents into their roles?
Self-confidence has a tremendous impact on a person’s ability to approach any task, and parenting is no different. DONA International doulas are taught to always consider parents’ feelings and always build confidence whenever possible. Doulas accomplish this through praise, acceptance and a non-judgmental approach. In addition, the doula will teach parents strategies and skills that will improve their ability to bond with their babies. A calm baby who is growing well will help parents to feel more confident in their skills.
16. Do doulas help mothers to deal with postpartum depression?
Unlike therapists or psychiatrists, doulas do not treat postpartum depression. However, they will help by creating a safe place for the mother emotionally. The doula will provide a cushioning effect by accepting the mother within each stage that she passes through. They relieve some of the pressure on the new mother by helping her move into her new responsibilities gradually. By mothering the mother, doulas make sure that the mother feels nurtured and cared for, as well as making sure she is eating well and getting enough sleep. In addition, DONA International certified postpartum doulas are trained to help clients prepare themselves for parenthood, maximizing support and rest. These doulas will help their clients to screen themselves for PPMDs and will make referrals to appropriate clinicians or support groups as needed.
17. Do doulas teach a particular parenting approach?
No. DONA International doulas are educated to support a mothers’ parenting approach. Doulas are good listeners and encourage mothers to develop their own philosophies.
18. How do postpartum doulas work with a mother’s partner?
A doula respects the partner’s role and input, and teaches concrete skills that will help the partner nurture the baby and mother. The doula will share evidence-based information with the partner that shows how his or her role in the early weeks will have a dramatic positive effect on the family.
Adapted from: Nurturing the Family: The Guide for Postpartum Doulas by Jacqueline Kelleher (Xlibris Corporation, 2002)