Most of you have heard of doulas. But you may not know that there are two varieties — birth doulas and postpartum doulas.
The birth doulas are the ones who attend women throughout labor and birth. They’re the back masseuses, the push cheerleaders, the partner calmers. Basically, they’re hired as non-medical physical and emotional support for a very intense process (regardless of the experience, I think we can all agree that giving birth is intense).
Postpartum doulas, on the other hand, help take care of mom after the birth, once she’s back home with the new squalling addition to the family. PPDs (as I’ll henceforth refer to them) are the non-medical physical and emotional support for what’s also a very intense process — bringing a new baby home, caring for it and integrating it into a household.
“I’m there to talk to moms and answer questions, and I do whatever I can to be there for them and their family when they’re incorporating a new family member,” says Asheville-based postpartum doula Molly Rouse. “I’ll do laundry, clean house, cook, help with the baby — whatever the mom needs.”
Would I have been willing to pay for this kind of support after bringing home my babies? Holy hell-on-a-breadstick, yes. Where were these postpartum doulas when I was popping out offspring?
They’re new on the scene, according to Rouse, who says the woman who has been certified as a PPD the longest in Asheville has only been doing this for about two years. Rouse was certified last December (doulas don’t have to be certified, but many have gone through a certification process).
Despite being new, postpartum doulas aren’t difficult to find. There’s a Web site, called http://www.wncdoulas.com, which lists a number of both types of doulas who work in the area (yes, there are still more of the birth than postpartum variety, though Rouse aims to change that). To learn more about Rouse herself, visit her Web site: http://www.nurtureyourfamily.net.
As far as I can tell, a baby nurse is for the baby. A postpartum doula is mostly for the mom, but she can take care of babies too. And if there’s something she can’t help mom with, she can refer the new mommy to someone who can.
“Molly came in and helped me when I really, really needed it,” says Asheville resident Erika Villa, who struggled with postpartum depression after her third child was born ten months ago.
Rouse referred Villa to a local therapist who specializes in treating postpartum depression. And she helped her out at home.
“She really encouraged me to care more for myself, which is what I needed to be encouraged to do,” Villa says. “She let me sleep, which I really needed.”
Birth doulas typically offer one or two postpartum visits to check in with mom, and they can refer moms to specialized care if needed, such as a breastfeeding specialist or psychologist. But they also can refer mom to a postpartum doula, who has training in breastfeeding and baby care — and who can help to clean the house, cook dinner, and care for older kids if needed. Win!
“The best part for me is feeling a connection with the mom and knowing that the little things I do can make a big, big difference,” Rouse says. “I’m into nesting and cleaning. I love doing that sort of nurturing.”
Can you see me drooling here in North Asheville?
Rates vary among PPDs. Rouse offers a sliding scale of $15 to $25 per hour. She adds that she’s open to bartering and that the Doulas of North America organization offers financial aid for families on Medicaid (http://www.dona.org). Families can hire ppds for just a few hours a week or more, depending on their needs.
“I’d recommend a postpartum doula especially to people who are new moms, have a difficult baby, or don’t have family in the area who can help,” Villa says. “We as moms all try to be supermoms, sometimes without even being aware of it. We feel we have to take care of everything ourselves. But we don’t.”
Indeed, sister. So soon-to-be grandparents, here’s a great gift for your kids who are having kids: a PPD. I was lucky enough to have a grandpa who gave me cash for cleaning help when my two were newborns. But had there been ppds around then — one of those would’ve been my preferred investment.