For $60 an hour, postpartum doulas will do everything from keeping you company to meal prep to lactation consulting.
There’s a new type of help to hire and it’s making new moms really happy.
The word postpartum tends to trigger an immediate association with a form of depression, but the latest baby-related trend has moms fending off feelings of sadness thanks to the rise in popularity of the postpartum doula.
For upwards of $60 an hour, postpartum doulas are paid to juggle tasks ranging from meal prep and lactation consulting to teaching a new mom how to properly affix a complicated baby carrier to her body. Another common request is to have a postpartum doula sit in bed alongside the new mother to let her process the birthing experience she just endured.
Los Angeles-based postpartum doula Stephanie Matthias says, “It’s really important for people to understand that my role is not to be a nanny, nurse or someone who is there to be a substitute mom—it’s to empower a mom and give her the tools she needs to be able to tackle motherhood on her own.” That said, Matthias explains that if a mother is in the next room getting a massage, she’s happy to take care of the baby because it’s helping facilitate the mother’s recovery process.
With gigs typically lasting two to three months, her contracts vary to accommodate the unique needs of each family, “Some people need help with specific things like baby laundry and some just want an unbiased, non-judgmental sounding board they can process their recent life changes with,” explains Matthias. “Most of the moms I see suffer from some form of the baby blues, but I’ve had plenty of clients that experience varying degrees of postpartum depression.”
Thanks to celebrities like Chrissy Teigen who have publicly shared their personal battles with the disease, the stigma attached to postpartum depression is changing. According to a February 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of postpartum depression declined five percent between 2004 and 2012. “Anytime someone in the spotlight talks about an issue like this, it helps normalize it. It provides the opportunity for someone to proactively seek help and possibly even prevent it from happening,” says Matthias.
Dr. Erin Joyce, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist who specializes in therapy for women dealing with reproductive mental health issues is open to the use of postpartum doulas, especially for first time mothers. “If you feel like you need instruction or help learning to properly and confidently care for your baby, as much support as you can get is a good thing,” says Joyce. She says a well-trained postpartum doula should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression and know when to have the client consult her OB/GYN or be referred to a therapist or psychiatrist.
One of Matthias’ recent clients, textile artist Jennifer Parry Dodge, has a history of depression and knew that having some extra help around would provide her with some time for self-care after the birth of her son. Dodge says, “Having Stephanie there allowed me to rest and relax knowing my baby was in good hands. She was able to answer so many questions and even helped me sleep train my son!”
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