This week from March 22nd – 28th is World Doula Week, a special worldwide celebration of the amazing doulas who help empower and support labor and postpartum outcomes everywhere! In honor of these incredible doulas, here is a question + answer with DONA trained postpartum doula Becca Hammond, of Chicago’s BH Support Services.
Tell us how you became a postpartum doula and how you got started!
I had no idea postpartum doulas existed until a dear friend told me about them a few years ago! I had been working as a nanny for many years and was also a young mother myself who struggled immensely in the postpartum period. Learning more about the role of a postpartum doula made something click within me and I started looking into a training in my area. Several months later, in late 2017, I completed a weekend-long workshop and have been very slowly working on my certification ever since. I officially started doula-ing in March of 2019 and it has been so fulfilling in ways I cannot even begin to describe!
What is a postpartum doula? What kind of things do doulas do? How is a postpartum doula different from a nanny or night nurse?
A postpartum doula is someone who can help support you in your home after the birth of a baby or babies by offering guidance on general baby care, referrals to other valuable resources such as lactation consultants or parent groups, assisting with light house chores and meals, offering valuable emotional support, helping with older siblings and much, much more. Postpartum doulas can do a wide range of things that all generally fall under the same types of support; practical, informational and emotional. We are there to support each individual family in the ways that best suits their needs. A postpartum doula is different from a nanny or night nurse. We generally do not take over care of the baby or babies while the parents work or leave the home and do not spend time in the home long-term as we are only with families up to about 12 weeks. Many postpartum doulas offer overnight care but our goal is to help support you during nighttime parenting rather than take over care of the baby entirely. A misconception about postpartum doulas is that we are a part of the medical field but we are not! In fact, our scope of practice prohibits us from doing anything medical related with clients, such as taking temperatures or giving medications. But we do have a very wide range of referrals for these types of services.
What do you love about being a postpartum doula?
I absolutely love the different kinds of people and families I get to meet. No two days are ever alike and every single one presents me with a learning opportunity. I also love the special relationships and bonds I form with families. It is such an honor to be a trusted part of this huge life change for them. Another thing I love is all the precious baby snuggles!
How would you describe yourself as a postpartum doula?
I would describe myself as pretty easy going, encouraging and affirming. My main goal is to support the parents and that means supporting their choices, whatever they may be, with no judgement. Everyone has their own valid ways of doing things. I am not there to tell them what is right and what is wrong for them. (Of course, if safety were ever a concern, I would bring it up!) It is very important to me to always be a source of support, encouragement and affirmation to my families. They are trying to figure out a brand new world and how to care for their new tiny human or humans and that deserves to be honored.
When does a postpartum doula show up after a birth?
Anytime the family would like within the first 12 weeks or so of a birth! This looks different for every single family. Some families have support from others for the first few weeks, some families would like a postpartum doula to come right away.
How does a postpartum doula support parents?
A multitude of ways! We support parents by reassuring what’s normal in both baby and the birthing persons recovery process, offering trusted referrals and resources, being a source of emotional support, helping around the house with light housework so parents can focus on taking care of themselves and their baby or babies, helping with the adjustment of older siblings and pets, offering companionship and active listening, and much more!
How do I go about finding a postpartum doula?
https://doulamatch.net/ is a fantastic way to find postpartum (and birth!) doulas in your area! You can very easily look at their experience, availability or any other special considerations you may need and contact them directly on the website.
How do I know if they are the right fit?
I think this is a gut feeling more than anything. It is important to find a postpartum doula you feel completely comfortable with and that might require a little bit of time together to get to know each other. It also might mean talking to or meeting a few to get a sense of what your options are and what you like or don’t like. Rest assured though, there is a perfect postpartum doula out there for everyone!
What services are included when someone decides to partner with you?
When you book my services, you are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of postpartum support. My extensive experience as a nanny also means I am well equipped to help out with the care and adjustment of older siblings and I have found that to be very valuable to my second and third time parents. I am also happy to cook and do meal prepping for your family. After about 12 weeks, I do offer to babysit from time to time for previous postpartum clients. This is slightly different from my role as a postpartum doula and I find it is great for families who just need some occasional babysitting while they run errands or practice some self-care because we already know each other so well. The main thing you will get from me when deciding to partner with me is my unwavering support! Any of my previous postpartum families will tell you that I am their personal cheerleader and I am always encouraging and rooting for them even though our time together has ended.
A big thank you to Becca Hammond for sharing all of her incredibly valuable insight regarding doula-ing and postpartum support! To learn more about Becca please visit BH Support Services or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram @bhammond.doula