What is a Postpartum Doula?

mother holding newbornWhen I interviewed Tracy Abney of Rocket City Doulas (you can check it out here), I learned about something called a postpartum doula. I had never heard of it before. I was very interested and decided to do some research on it. I figured, why not share my research with all of you? Maybe you’ve never heard of a postpartum doula either. Below are some FAQs about postpartum doulas.

What is a postpartum doula?

A postpartum doula is someone who is trained to work with a new mother through the period after birth. This postpartum period is sometimes referred to as the fourth trimester. It is the first 12 weeks after the birth of a new baby.

What is the difference between a labor doula and a postpartum doula?

mother holding newbornLabor doulas support a mother through the period of labor and delivery. A postpartum doula supports a new mother after the baby is born. Some labor doulas are also postpartum doulas and can work with you from labor to the fourth trimester. Others may specialize as a labor doula or as a postpartum doula and work only with one or the other.

How is a postpartum doula different from a baby nurse?

A baby nurse’s primary role is caring for the newborn. Some are registered nurses, and some are not, but their purpose is to provide care to the infant.


A postpartum doula, on the other hand, is mostly focused on the mother. They also focus on the partner, the family, and the new baby, but mostly on the mother. Their goal is to provide emotional support to the mother and provide expertise in infant care to the parents. 

What does a postpartum doula do?

family with newbornThe work that a postpartum doula does will look different for every family.


Typical postpartum doula support might include:

  • Recognizing early red flags regarding postpartum recovery
  • Provide non-biased emotional, physical, and informational support during the postpartum period
  • Normalizing the postpartum period
  • Helping with mom’s post-birth comfort measures 
  • Offering physical support as mom recovers from a cesarean delivery
  • Caring for your baby while you shower, sleep or practice some much-needed self-care
  • Expertise in all things regarding infant feeding, both breast and bottle
  • Model infant care
  • Current information on safety recommendations as set forth by the AAP
  • Providing resources to related services, such as birthing classes or a lactation consultant
  • Taking care of light household cleaning, such as dishes, tidying up, and laundry
  • Occasional light meal and snack preparation

What DOESN’T a postpartum doula do?

According to the CAPPA, (the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association), there are specific things that Postpartum doulas do not do. Postpartum doulas do not:

  • Diagnose medical conditions
  • Interpret medical diagnoses or clinical results
  • Prescribe or administer treatment of medical conditions
  • Perform clinical procedures, including taking the infant’s temperature or administering medications to the infant or mother
  • Prescribe, perform, or provide alternative/complementary therapies including, but not limited to, essential oils, placenta medicine, herbal treatments, etc. without further training.
  • Make parenting or infant care choices or decisions
  • Transport any family members
  • Stay alone with babies or other children routinely and for extended periods of time
  • Buckle infants or other children into cars or car seats or install car seats in cars
  • Teach a cry-it-out approach
  • Act as a housekeeper or nanny

Who needs a postpartum doula?

parents hold newbornSometimes, new parents can be overwhelmed once the new baby comes home. Even parents with other children can feel overwhelmed with a new baby. A postpartum doula can help ease the transition and help with the burden. 


When and how you need a doula’s help will be different for each family. Some may just need help during the first few days that a baby is born. Some may want help a few days a week for the first few weeks that a baby is home. Some postpartum doulas even offer overnight care, which helps the whole family to get more rest.


Postpartum doulas can benefit any family as they are adjusting to life with a new baby.

What are the benefits of having a postpartum doula?

Families who get support during the postpartum period benefit greatly.

  • They feel more secure in their new role.
  • They are able to breastfeed with more success.
  • The risk of postpartum depression is lower.
  • They have higher self-confidence.
  • They feel more cared for.
  • There is less risk of abuse within the family.

What should I look for in a postpartum doula?

mother playing with newbornWhen interviewing potential doulas, you need to consider a few things. First, are they a good fit for you in terms of personality? You will be spending a good amount of time together, so you want to make sure that you will actually want them around. Second, do you have any extra considerations, such as having multiples? You need to make sure that they know and are ready to work with that. You can also ask them a few questions like

  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • How long have you been a postpartum doula?
  • What do you like most about being a postpartum doula?
  • What services do you provide?
  • How would you support me/my partner/my family in the postpartum period?
  • What services are included in your fee? What services are extra?
  • Do you have any experience with postpartum mental health?
  • How soon can you begin after the birth?
  • Are you experienced with families that already have other children?

How can I find a postpartum doula?

In the Huntsville area, one of the ways to find a doula is using Rocket City Mom’s guide. The organizations that certify postpartum doulas also generally have a list of certified doulas and their location. You can also reach out to labor doulas, childbirth educators, and parent support groups for referrals.


Postpartum doulas can be a wonderful tool in a parent’s toolbelt as they are learning and growing with the new addition to their family. With the support that they offer to new parents, the mother especially, the family as a whole benefit. If you are about to bring a new child into your family, consider the many benefits that a postpartum doula will give you, and give it a try.

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