I did not prepare myself for postpartum. Maybe it’s because I was a first-time mom and went into it all a little naively or perhaps I had a tougher-than-usual postpartum experience.
Either way, I felt like I was drowning trying to take care of myself, figure out this new little human, and keep up with every day essentials: sleeping, showering, eating, and the piles of laundry.
At one point during a check-in with my midwife, I expressed how overwhelmed I felt while tears streamed down my face. She asked how much help I had and then suggested I look into hiring a postpartum doula.
I knew about doulas (my mom got her doula certification while I was pregnant and was my doula during birth) but I didn’t know much about postpartum doula services. Too exhausted to research and find out more, I never ended up hiring one, but looking back, I see how helpful it might have been.
If you’re like me and don’t know much about what postpartum doulas can do, or if you’ve had a rough postpartum experience and want to make things smoother the next time around, you might discover a postpartum doula could be a lifesaver.
We chatted with Jennifer Magnano, Postpartum Director at Cherry Blossom Doulas, to learn more about postpartum doulas and the many services they offer.
What are postpartum doulas? How do their services differ from a nanny or in-home nurse?
We care for the whole family. That means providing emotional and social support for mom, mom’s partner, and any siblings present. We’ll cook, do light cleaning, and even offer holistic healing and mindfulness practices.
Why might a family/new mom consider hiring a postpartum doula?
If they don’t have someone for a really close support system—a family member or friend—that they’d want to come over and help, that’s what a postpartum doula is for. We offer unbiased support and are a judgment free zone. We’re not there to tell you what to do, we’ll offer guidance, but we’re there more for what they need.
Can you tell me what a typical day-in-the-life with a postpartum doula might look like?
We’ll come in and assess what the situation looks like—if mom hasn’t slept, had a meal, showered, we’ll see what is needed.
It might look like us offering to hold the baby so mom can shower, making breakfast, lunch or dinner, hanging out with a sibling, cleaning bottles or pumping parts, folding laundry, offering lactation support. We just kind of take a feel for the environment. We also try to emotionally support dads, allowing them to express how things are going and try to fill any gaps.
How long do postpartum doulas work with a family?
On average six to eight weeks. We have some families we help through the first 12 weeks. We have a bunch of packaged visits and those can be customized to fit what works best for each family.
What are the expected costs? Are there options for families who may be interested but can’t afford it?
Packages range from $350 – $1950, with add-on and customization options available for additional costs. We do offer scholarships. There’s a form to fill out where you’ll let us know the circumstances—if you’re under a certain income level, or if you’ve had a loss or are expecting a loss.
At the end of the day, postpartum doulas are there to offer support and help make the postpartum days a little lighter for everyone. Throughout her years in postpartum work, Jennifer said the most rewarding part has been watching families grow together during that time.
“I love seeing families thrive,” she said. “We walk in a lot of the times and mom is crying, dad is unsure what’s normal, then to see the progression since we’re with them an extended period of time. We get to see who these families become and that’s just the best.”