Helping Hands Doula
Aline Paradis PCD(DONA), CLC    -    613-612-8289
Certified Postpartum Doula and Lactation Counselor
A day in the life of a Postpartum Doula

By Aline Paradis, PCD(DONA), CLC
Certified Postpartum Doula and Certified Lactation Counselor
Helping Hands Doula, www.helpinghandsdoula.org


The role of the Postpartum Doula takes a new meaning in our society
because family members might be far away, working full time, or there is
a desire to have the expertise of someone impartial that has all the latest
evidence-based information on newborn care and breastfeeding.  As well,
friends might be working or busy with their own family and we might not
be that close to our neighbours. Hence our purpose!
Each day spent with a client and her family is different, depending on what is needed, the age of
the baby, if this is their first baby if they have twins or triplets or if this new baby has older
siblings. The Postpartum Doula adapts herself to her clients and to their specific needs in that
moment. Sometimes parents don’t even know what they need, and it is the task of the
Postpartum Doula to see what is needed and to make it happen.

In a typical day, the first thing I do when I get there is talk to the mom and see how things are
going. I try to get a sense of where she is at. Is there anxiety? Is she exhausted but not listening
to herself? We then create a “game plan” for my visit on that day because I do want to know what
mom needs. I usually notice things that need to be done even before mom tells me, like kitchen
duties and laundry. I make sure that mom has eaten and is rested. She usually can use a nap! We
make sure that baby has fed before she goes for a nap, so the nap is not interrupted by a hungry
baby.

Baby feeding time is perfect to bring all the feeding questions that mom (and dad) may have. A big
part of my support is education, and it starts here. I don’t want to overwhelm them with too much
information, so during that time, we focus on information about feeding. We look at latching, talk
about drinking habits, look at swallowing signs and burping techniques. She usually has questions
that we try to clarify. If there are questions I can’t answer or if mom has some worries, I will teach
her to rely on and trust her own instincts and call her caregiver or refer her to the appropriate
professional that can help her: Lactation Consultant, Cranio-sacral therapist, osteopath… During
the feed, I will bring her a snack and something to drink to make sure she is being taken care of.

During that time, t
he partner might be there to support mom or sometimes he (or she) will take
the opportunity to take some time for him
(her), rest, exercise, do some tasks around the house,
run some errands (he
or she might be happy to get out of the house in peace knowing that
someone is there to look out for mom and baby) if he
(she) is not back at work already.

If all is going well, while baby is feeding and mom has no questions, I might start a load of laundry,
and do some other light chores that we talked about in our “game plan”.

Once feed is done, if mom is tired (which she usually is), I will send her off to bed. Rest is so
important. She will sometimes want to take baby with her but sometimes, she will prefer not to.
Either way is good with me. During that time, I will tidy the kitchen: empty dishwasher, refill
dishwasher, wash pots and pans, and sweep the floor. I will look into the fridge to see if there are
vegetable that could be cut for easy available snacks. If it was discussed with mom, I will start
supper or prepare lunch for her. If baby is with me, I might have put on the baby carrier and
wearing the baby. If need be I will tidy around the house so that their living area is nice and
inviting. Of course, I will finish the laundry I started, as I like to finish tasks that I start during the
time I am there.

When mom gets up, she usually likes to take a shower or a bath. She feels better after that rest
and we talk some more. That is usually when some more education happens:  newborn care,
soothing techniques and any other questions they may have. But I don’t just answer questions: I
listen and I reassure. I’m a shoulder where mom can talk about her fears and anxiety without being
judged.

When it is time to leave, the family is usually happy, feeling more rested and confident. They know
what to expect with their newborn in the next couple of days and they know that I can be reached
if need be. We usually have a plan: maybe I will be back again this week or next week. Some
families need me one week, and other a couple of months. Sometimes I come once a week and
sometimes 3 times a week, it all varies. Occasionally it takes a mom a couple of visits to be
comfortable enough with me to really rest and talk about her birth. At times it happens right away
and every now and then the connection starts even before the birth. It all varies. My goal is for
them not to need me. When that is done, I know I did my job well.

All that matters is that the family recovers, bonds with their baby (or babies), feels confident about
their ability of being parents and knows that it isn’t always easy but that support is there and
available: from the Postpartum Doula, a family member, friends or somebody in their community
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