What Is A Postpartum Doula?

My hubby and I attended a “Meet the Doulas Night” hosted by the Doulas of Rhode Island. There we learned about birth doulas, and postpartum doulas. Below is my opinion of what a postpartum doula is and does.

From what I hear, one of the chief complaints new parents have is the overwhelming fear and confusion that occurs when they take home their tiny baby from the hospital. Gone are the helpful nurses, who are there to show you how to hold or burp your baby. Gone is the round the clock support. Now it’s just you, your partner, and this squirmy-crying-confused little thing that completely relies upon you. Yikes.

Sure, you can turn to a mom blog or a book, seeking advice. Problem is, they aren’t there to physically help you. Maybe your family or friends with baby experience live far away, and can’t necessarily show you how to swaddle…or maybe you would become more stressed if they were there looking over your shoulder. Instead, one may feel more comfortable with a doula.

The average price for a postpartum doula in Rhode Island is $20.00 an hour. One can think of them as an expensive babysitter, but they are so much more.

A postpartum doula is like Super Nanny – meets baby guru – meets sanity saver. These women love newborns, and have made it their life’s profession to care for the tiny babies, as well as care for the new moms and dads. They do not judge, criticize, or scrutinize your parenting skills. Instead, they guide and support.

First, they check up on and care for the new mom, who is most likely going through some major emotional and hormonal changes. Many mothers feel like crap, are wearing an adult diaper, fear using the toilet, don’t sleep, haven’t eaten, can’t figure out how to breastfeed, are recovering from surgery, and all the while are expected to parade their newborn around their friends and family. No wonder so many moms cry or have postpartum depression issues. Sadly, mom’s doctor appointment is generally two weeks after birth. If she is already sad or overwhelmed, a lot of important time has already passed.

A doula will help the new mom feel empowered and confident about caring for her squirmy squishy newborn, as well as herself. They will help with organizational support (something I will most certainly need) as well as help with breastfeeding. They educate new parents on ways to understand and help their tiny baby, and these tips and hands on lessons change as the parents and baby’s needs change.

A doula is also a worn out parent’s lifesaver. Have a newborn and don’t feel like you have time to shower? No problem, the doula is here! Need help making dinner, help with the laundry, or possibly want to fit in a nap? Thank you, postpartum doula. Maybe mom is feeling confident, but her partner could use a bit more encouragment and guidance. Doulas can help there as well. Possibly, you have an entirely gross postpartum personal question that you old never ask your friends (and you know you shouldn’t Google). Ask away!

In addition to being a great help to the parents, postpartum doulas are newborn baby experts. While understanding that each baby is unique, they can help translate different behaviors or signs that we as new parents may not understand. They can attend your baby’s doctor visits with you, and will help inform you about your different medical options. They are helpful with just about any other circumstance a new parent could face.

Postpartum doulas come to the tiny baby’s home, and can spend full days to a few hours each week assisting the new parents. The schedule is something the parents and doula work out, together.

The Doulas of Rhode Island host a free meet and greet once a month. There, parents are invited to watch an informative video, ask questions, and then meet several doulas.

For a list of Rhode Island based postpartum doulas, click this link. There you will find bios, as well as pictures and contact information for the women. If you’re thinking about hiring a doula, interview a few.

What aspects of bringing home a tiny baby are/were the most worrisome to you?


  1. I did not know about this service. It sounds extraordinarily helpful. I still remember bringing home a newborn (decades ago), and still remember the first day I was alone with my newborn and literally burst into tears for at least an hour. I was recovering from surgery, had NO experience with babies and my dream of sweetness and light were just not there. My baby was screaming, I was struggling with nursing… and there were dust bunnies under my kitchen sink. I still remember looking at those dust bunnies and sobbing. What kind of Mommy was I? I could have used a postpartum doula right then and there. I could have used a hug. I could have had someone simply mop up those dust bunnies. I know I went into Mommy mode at some point because I survived, my baby survived, I went on to have another baby… but those moments of HELP are crucial in days when "a village" doesn't come to help. A doula as you describe is the village. This is a perfect gift for a new Mommy. Thank you for sharing this. Beautifully written and explained…

  2. I had no idea that such a service existed! Thank you so much for sharing this. It would have come in handy when I had both of my children. I'll definitely be keeping it in mind when we go for a third. 🙂

  3. Wow. I could have used that years ago, and frankly, I could use one of those now too! It is so overwhelming to get home and try to remember everything that the nurses (who are angels on earth) tell you to do. And you are sleep deprived on top of it all. I would definitely recommend this to friends and family.

  4. Bravo and Thank You, Mary… couldn't have said it better myself. I so wish more moms knew about postpartum doulas. I work as a Postpartum doula here in NJ, and with the exception of the hourly rate – which is higher here- you did an amazing job explaining. I do this work because I WAS the mom you describe. My best to you on your pregnancy journey. I'd like to share your post on my FB page and blog – which you might find helpful for your first weeks home.

  5. Mary, I am so grateful that you are spreading the word about doulas in general and postpartum doulas specifically here. Thrilled you found DoRI (Doulas of RI) and attended one of our Meet the Doula Nights! (I think I was at a birth the night you went!) 🙂

    I started my doula work as a postpartum doula and the responses of your readers is what we often here – it's much less known than birth doulas and truly such a valuable support. You've described what we do beautifully!

    If anyone is interested in seeing the DoRI DVD, here is the direct YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpCFbwyrHQM

    It's such a special role to be able to be in a family's home as they welcome and get to know their new little one! I am loving being on this journey with you as you post through your pregnancy!

  6. Great post! I hired a post-partum doula (actually, Leah DeCesare, who was FABULOUS!) when I had my twins. There was NO WAY I was going to survive with my 2-year-old and newborn twins otherwise. I remember the first day Leah showed up… She came in, immediately folded a stack of laundry and then sat in the rocker and held BOTH babies at once, peacefully and competently, and I shuffled off to take a SHOWER without worrying that one of the babies would cry, need me, etc. I knew that Leah could handle it, whatever "it" was. Amazing. So important for new mamas to take care of themselves!!

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