Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Shortly after giving birth, a mother goes through a myriad of physical, hormonal, social and psychological changes, all of which are exacerbated by sleep deprivation and the many challenges of learning to care for her newborn while simultaneously trying to recover from labor and delivery. The postpartum period is a crucial time for a mother to accept all the help and support that she can get; however, most expecting mothers don't realize how demanding caring for a newborn can be.
In some traditional cultures, the postnatal period was considered a sacred period of time in which the mother was supported within her community by family and neighbors caring for her during the first forty days after birth so she could rest and bond with the baby in order to establish success with breastfeeding. People within her village would provide nourishing foods to aid with her recovery and healing. Massages were given to encourage oxytocin production with the idea that it would help stimulate lactation and assist in establishing a successful bond between the mother and her newborn. These traditional practices helped facilitate the mother's healing and recovery.
Unfortunately, many mothers within our society don't have the kind of help from family and friends as was traditionally practiced in other cultures. Either because they don't have relatives living close to them or because their family and friends are too busy trying to keep up with their own responsibilities and fast-paced lifestyles imposed by our modern-day society. A lack of support during this very critical time can contribute to postpartum depression and a much longer recovery and healing time for the mother and affect the breastfeeding and bonding relationship.
Postpartum Doulas are professionally trained to provide evidence-based education to the parents as needed on breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and newborn care and they'll provide tips and assistance as needed with diapering, swaddling, bathing, umbilical cord care and baby soothing, while providing non-judgmental, compassionate support and unbiased information to families within their home after the birth of their baby, with the main emphasis on caring for the mother and helping her develop confidence in caring for her newborn. For families with older siblings, Doulas help them adjust to having a new member in the family. Additionally, Postpartum Doulas help with practical things such as baby's laundry, sibling care, light tidying up and preparation of nourishing meals and healthy snacks to allow the mother to rest and care for her baby.
Studies indicate that Postpartum Doulas positively influence a mothers’ transition to caring for her newborn, including greater breastfeeding success, less postpartum depression, and improved confidence with baby care.