Postnatal doulas typically start working with a family in the first few months after birth, but some doulas do work with families with older babies too. Usually postnatal doulas are booked before the birth of a baby but sometimes only when a family find they are struggling or feel the need for more support. The length of time a postnatal doula spends with a family varies enormously from the initial 6-8 weeks, to years!
In the immediate aftermath of birth a postnatal doula can offer support and guidance about feeding - both breast and formula, sleeping arrangements, adjustments as a couple and family, self-care for both parents and help with older siblings.
Slightly further down the line a postnatal doula's role varies enormously and one of the big benefits of having a postnatal doulas is that they are there to support the family, not carry out a specific task, so they do what is needed - even if just to be a soundboard for the mother, couple and/or whole family.
This can also extend to being a help around the house, looking after baby while mum (and her partner) nap, helping with older siblings, making meals, helping with dinner time or the school run, stocking the fridge, cooking food for the freezer or walking the dog. Whatever is needed to help a family relax and have a positive experience of life with a baby.
Just as when supporting birth clients, postnatal doulas provide emotional, practical and informational support.