By Noami Starsiak

When I started this column I gave a brief picture of what a doula is, today I want to broaden that picture to look at the two categories of doulas – birth and postpartum.

 A birth doula has one basic goal, to give their clients support so the client can achieve the birth they envision. Or, in another way of saying it, birth doulas help you get ready for birth. Birth doulas offer help in writing a birth plan, giving referrals to pregnancy trained chiropractors and massage therapists, show you the basics of optimal body positioning, and some even offer childbirth classes (and if you’re very lucky, they’ll even teach the class in your home).

 A postpartum doula is there to support the mother in the first few months after the baby is born and this can be done in a variety of ways. Some of the things I’ve done as a postpartum doula include: watch the baby so mom can take a bath, cook dinner, provide focused attention on older children, wash laundry, give breastfeeding support, do some grocery shopping, and clean the spot under the fridge that most people don’t notice but is now in plain view to a couch-bound mom recovering from a c-section.

When I think about what I do as a birth doula versus what I do as a postpartum doula I would say a birth doula is about education and a postpartum doula is about service.Please remember though that not all birth doulas offer postpartum services, so be sure to ask. Also, while choosing a birth doula is a highly personal thing (after all, this person is being invited into a very private moment), the relationship with a postpartum doula is much more casual. I’ve even seen moms be given a gift certificate for postpartum services as a baby shower present!

Naomi Starsiak is a birth and postpartum doula, a placenta encapsulator, a natural birth consultant, and the co-owner of A Peaceful Birth doula & childbirth service. You can find her on Facebook at facebook.com/APeacefulBirthDoulas. Have a question? E-mail it to Naomi at nestarsiak@gmail.com.

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