My Day as a Postpartum Doula
One of the questions I get most often is "What do you do during your shift as a postpartum doula?" The hard part about this question is that the answer depends on which family I'm working for and what the priorities for that family are that day.
My job is ever changing as postpartum work, just as birth work, is far from predictable. Though, I won't go as far as saying that postpartum work is quite as unpredictable as birth work. Birth work has an on-call component that my job as a postpartum doula lacks. Even so, all mothers recover at their own pace and all babies are different.
To answer the question I'm going to use a few different recent clients as examples.
Here is what I did for a client who has a single baby and also had 2 older children. I worked 6 hours shifts for her 3 times a week.
8:00 AM-Arrive just as oldest child leaves to catch the bus. Check in about how the night went and how mom is feeling. Ask for any priorities for the day.
8:30 AM-Start load of laundry and fold dry laundry while mom feeds newborn. Play with toddler.
9:00 AM-Empty dishwasher and wash dirty dishes. Bring mom water and breakfast. Discuss newborn feeding and umbilical cord stump status.Take newborn so mom can spend time with toddler.
9:30 AM-Bounce and rock newborn to sleep while mom plays with toddler.
10:00 AM-Play with toddler while newborn sleeps. Mom takes shower, pumps and rests in bed.
10:30 AM - Bring newborn to mom to nurse. Feed toddler snack. Switch laundry.
11:00 AM - Take newborn from mom and put in baby carrier. Collect garbages. Put laundry away. Play with toddler.
11:30 AM - Prep lunch for everyone. Also start prepping dinner.
12:00 PM - Serve lunch. Bounce fussing baby.
12:30 PM - Clean up lunch dishes. Finish prepping dinner. Mom puts toddler down for nap and then feeds newborn.
1:00 PM - Take newborn from mom and bounce to sleep. Mom puts herself down for a nap. Fold and put away all laundry. Sweep floor. Put away toddler toys. Wipe kitchen counters. Prep bottles.
2:00 PM - Chat with mom about various newborn behaviors and discuss acid reflux solutions. End of shift.
^Multi-tasking is the name of the postpartum doula game!
Here's another example from a client who was a first-time mom. I worked 4 hour shifts for her. She started with 3 days a week and then tapered down to 2 days a week and then 1 day a week.
8:00 AM - Arrive as partner leaves for work. Check in with mom on how her night went and how she is feeling. Discuss the new medications she is taking for her postpartum anxiety. Ask for priorities for the day.
8:30 AM - Mom feeds newborn as we discuss nursing positions and milk storage guidelines. We also chat about baby's birth and brainstorm different ways to improve latch and sore nipples.
9:00 AM - Take newborn from mom and bounce to sleep in baby carrier. Mom takes nap. Find list of tasks for the day on the fridge. Empty dishwasher, wash dishes, clean counters and sweep floor.
9:30 AM - Get started on mom's list by prepping quick one-handed snacks for her. Refill diaper stations. Empty diaper trash.
10:00 AM - Fold laundry and put away. Research freezer meals recipes for next shift. Make grocery list.
10:30 AM - Bring newborn to mom for feeding. Discuss freezer meals with mom.
11:00 AM - Play with newborn while mom showers.
11:30 AM - Prep lunch. Serve lunch. Discuss baby bathing techniques with mom. Clean up lunch dishes.
12:00 PM - Discuss stopping at the grocery store on my way in for the next shift. End of shift.
One more example. This mom had a cesarean and a set of twins. She had weight restrictions on lifting. This was baby 2 & 3 for her. I worked 4 hours shifts for her 5 days a week.
9:00 AM - Arrive as partner is leaving. Mom is still in bed and grandma is there to help for the week. Discuss with grandma how everyone is doing and what mom would like done that day. Babies are asleep in their bouncy seats.
9:30 AM-Start laundry while grandma is feeding toddler breakfast. Empty dishwasher and wash breakfast dishes.
10:00 AM - Mom is awake and ready to nurse. Change diapers to wake babies for feeding and bring to mom. Prep formula bottles. Discuss diaper rash issues and possible solutions with mom. Do a swaddling demo and suggest the purchase of a sound machine.
10:30 AM - Feed baby A bottle while baby B finishes nursing. Burp baby A and place in bouncy chair. Feed baby B while bouncing baby A. Burp baby B. Mom takes shower.
11:00 AM- Rock baby A while grandma rocks baby B. Mom plays with toddler in her bed. Put babies in bouncy chairs for naps.
11:30 AM - Wash bottles and pump parts. Prep formula bottles for the next 24 hours. Switch laundry. Refill all diaper stations and have Alexa order more diapers. Help grandma prep lunch for everyone.
12:00 AM - Discuss meeting mom at pediatrician appointment at the beginning of next shift. End of shift.
These are just a few examples of what my day as a postpartum doula could look like. Laundry and dishes seem to be pretty consistent though! Those never-ending tasks plague us all. I try to be really flexible for my clients. The start date of contracts are variable as babies come when they come. Sometimes families know exactly how many days a week and hours that they need and some do not. That is ok! Scheduling is fluid as postpartum recovery progresses. My job is to work myself out of a job. That takes a different amount of time for each client ranging from 4 weeks to 4 months. I've been told I'm like Mary Poppins. I blow in when the winds change and out when things right themselves again.
^Look! It's me! LOL!
As always, feel free to contact me to discuss your specific needs. I'd love to sit down with you for a free consultation and chat more about all of this.