In the blink of an eye, you are in the hospital marveling at the beautiful being that you bravely and fiercely gave birth to. Or maybe you gave birth in the comfort of your own home with a midwife, labor doula and your family nearby. You are a new mother with the amazing yet daunting task of caring for a brand new life. A whole person.
Many new mothers find that the first few weeks and months after giving birth are overwhelming. Breastfeeding on demand and lack of sleep are at the top of the list for a new mother's stress. Add in the lingering pain from birth, hormonal changes, visitors, partners returning to work, other children to care for and a household to keep in tack... You quickly realize you need help. But what type of help do you really need?
As a former Career Nanny turned Postpartum Doula, I know first hand what each role entails and how different the roles can be. Both can be very essential to new mothers and growing families, but deciding which type of postpartum care is right for you should be thought about and discussed in depth. When considering whether to hire a nanny or a postpartum doula, you should consider the following:
-the length of time you will need help
-the training, education and experience of your care giver
-child care vs. mother & family care
-transitioning back to work
A nanny is a care giver that generally provides child care for families. Duties may include providing educational, emotional and physical care for the children, light housework, play dates and pet care. They work anywhere from 20-40 hours per week while parents work, depending on the needs of the family. They may also provide the family with babysitting services for date nights. Postpartum doulas provide a different type of care. Postpartum doulas provide temporary care for families and are experts in normal adjustment. We are trained specifically to the help with the many changes that families experience during the first three months after birth or the "fourth trimester." Postpartum doulas provide whole family care focusing on mom and baby. We assist with breastfeeding/bottle feeding, baby soothing and sleep techniques, baby wearing, sibling adjustment and as well as integrating other family members into a routine you may want to develop. We also provide an educational aspect to our care that helps leave the parents confident and assured that they can handle their new normal.
Ideally, if you are looking for long term child care in your home, you may want to hire a nanny. Nannies are great because they are like a second mother and care for your children like their own. Their experience and educational background may vary, but the level of care that your children will receive will be very close to your own, generally speaking. While nannies may have other daily duties, their first priority is taking care of your children. If you are a new mother in need of more personal care and support, advice, guidance, modern education and training and someone to make you feel okay about the choices you make for your family, then a postpartum doula is definitely the right choice for you. You will pay more for a doula, but the level of care you receive will be worth more than you can imagine. There are also other types of care givers to consider such as a Baby Nurse, Newborn Care Specialist, Night Nurse/Nanny, Baby Sleep Consultant or a Lactation Consultant.
One of the reasons I became a doula is because after many years of being a nanny and doing some research regarding career advancement, I discovered that I was already offering the services of a Postpartum Doula. I was working with many first time parents and learning more and more about postpartum matters and the specific concerns of each mother. I listened to their pregnancy and birth stories, helped their husbands understand what mom was going through and what life would now be like. I gave them articles and websites to refer to when I was not at work. And of course I cared for and bonded with each of their babies like they were my own. With each new family that I cared for, I learned about their individual needs and wants and catered specifically to them. Becoming a Postpartum Doula was a natural career decision for me.
While I do miss being a nanny at times, I feel that I can offer much more to families now. And I really like the fact that I can help several families simultaneously. Working with children and families is all I have ever known and I am happy to bring my experience as nanny to my new profession. It's the Best of Both Worlds!