What is a Postpartum Doula and What Do They Do Exactly?

We all have that friend who raved about her baby nurse. You know, the magical angel from heaven who fed the baby at 3 a.m. so mama had a chance to rest. But what about a postpartum doula? There’s a big distinction between the two services, which is why we caught up with Jennifer Mayer, doula and owner of Baby Caravan, about this buzzy postnatal concept and why it’s a good option for new moms.

First, what is a postpartum doula? 

A trained professional who helps out in the first three to six months after baby. But unlike a baby nurse, the primary goal is to support the parents, siblings and the newborn—in other words, the whole family. A doula can do everything from acting as a lactation consultant and making mom nutritious foods to advising on diaper rash and setting up tricky baby gear. (Damn you, Rock ’n Play.)

How long do postpartum doulas stay? And do they cover overnights? 

Sure do. Postpartum doulas are available to book based on your needs—daytime, nighttime, overnight, you name it. But although they might cover those midnight feeds while you snooze, they’re also there to support you as you learn how to do it yourself. 

How much do postpartum doulas charge? 

The going rate in NYC is $50 an hour, with a minimum number of hours required to book. (Baby Caravan, for example, requires at least four hours in order to send a doula to your home.)

What else does a postpartum doula do? 

At Baby Caravan, doulas are available to help with anything that moves the household forward, including laundry, placing a Fresh Direct order, folding baby clothes, cleaning, loading the dishwasher, washing bottles, cooking meals, lactation support and the basics of baby care. They also provide emotional support to the mom and are trained to notice any signs of perinatal mood disorder. This is huge since, given the current state of postpartum health care, new moms don’t return to the doctor until six weeks post-delivery.

RELATED: What's the Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife?

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