When someone asks what a postpartum doula does or what a postpartum doula is, it’s hard not to laugh—not because the question is funny, but because it’s so difficult to answer. Call it nervous laughter, if you will, but in all seriousness: how do you describe someone so readily when the person you’re trying to describe does so many different things?
Postpartum doulas do so. many. things.
If we just said, “Oh, you know, they support new families,” would you know what we meant? Or, if we said, “They support their clients during the postpartum period,” would you be able to imagine having a postpartum doula on your team?
The truth is, there is no one-sentence description that clearly paints a picture of the type of support a postpartum doula provides to the families they serve—because no two families are alike. Every family comes with a different set of needs and desires for their lives with their new
babies, and a postpartum doula wears many hats in order to support families in their pursuits.
They sit with you while you nurse your baby at night, providing snacks and conversation to help keep you awake through the feed—if that’s what you need.
They feed and change and rock and swaddle your baby throughout the night while you get yourself some sleep—if that’s what you need.
They do puzzles with your older children while you pump for your newest babe—if that’s what you need.
They’re there when you just need a shower, or a nap, or to eat with both hands.
Postpartum doulas are shape-shifters and gap-fillers. They are an extra set of hands when yours are full, an extra body when you’re outnumbered, a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on.
They’re there to lean on when 2 a.m. feels too hard, and to help with breakfast when the sun finally rises after a long, long night.
They’re there when you need to brave the grocery store for the first time on your own with the baby and all of their little baby things, and when you spill the milk for the baby’s next feed.
If you really need just one sentence to describe a postpartum doula, perhaps something like, “Postpartum doulas bring village-like support into the comfort of your home at all hours of the day—and all hours of the night, too.”
But if we’re being honest, even that doesn’t quite do the job justice. So, maybe instead of trying to define “postpartum doula” for you, we’ll stick to showing you what we can do for you.