What is a Postpartum Doula? Do You Need One?

Doulas aren't just for pregnancy—they also can be super helpful in the fourth trimester. Here's what you should know before hiring one.
new mother holding baby's foot

Many people are familiar with the concept of a doula—a trained professional who provides physical, mental and emotional support to a birthing individual. Given the fact that birth is a monumental and exponentially transformative experience, it makes sense that someone might want to have additional support to help them navigate these unchartered waters, especially if you’re giving birth for the first time. What many of us fail to account for is that these changes don’t stop on delivery day—they extend well into the postpartum period, often called the “fourth trimester.” Here is where another kind of doula—a postpartum doula—can really come in handy. 

The postpartum period can be incredibly overwhelming as you navigate the round-the-clock demands of caring for a newborn while adjusting to your new role as “mom.” In times like these, the presence of a postpartum doula can make a world of difference in a new parent’s life. But what exactly is a postpartum doula, and how can they provide essential support to families during this vulnerable time?

What is a Postpartum Doula?

A postpartum doula is a trained professional who offers emotional, physical and informational guidance and support to new parents during the postpartum period, which is technically defined as the first six weeks after childbirth. (We’d like to point out that this postpartum period can truly be seen as forever, so it’s quite common for someone to enlist the help of a postpartum doula well beyond this 6-week mark). 

Unlike a midwife or a nurse, a postpartum doula is usually not a medically trained professional, so they’re not actually providing medical care, per se. Instead, they focus on providing non-judgmental support and guidance, ensuring that the new parent feels confident and cared for during this crucial period of adjustment.

How is a Postpartum Doula Different From a Birth Doula?

Although both birth doulas and postpartum doulas provide support and guidance, they have different roles and responsibilities, mostly relating to their timeframe of care. While a birth doula’s role primarily comes into play during labor and delivery, a postpartum doula’s role becomes active once the baby is born, typically during the first few weeks to months postpartum. “A postpartum doula supports you in your needs at home, including helping you come to terms with your birth experience, assisting with newborn care, meal preparation, breastfeeding and bottle support, caring for baby while you sleep as well as providing emotional support for the mother,” explains Jessica Miree, nurse and postpartum doula based in South Florida.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Postpartum Doula? 

Even if you feel like you can handle everything yourself, you shouldn’t have to. Long ago when we as a society used to live in small villages, the mothers were supported by their mothers, grandmothers and other women in the village—they didn’t do everything on their own. While today’s society has changed dramatically, as has the expectations placed on moms, postpartum doulas can provide you with that “village.” 

“It can be very challenging, intimidating even, taking home a newborn baby for the first time and finding yourself in a sea of questions,” says Miree. “Having a postpartum doula aids to build that confidence—even if it’s just someone to say ‘it’s ok’ to feel all the things you are feeling or to bring you water after you just sat to feed the baby.”

Here’s a look at some of the benefits a postpartum doula can provide. 

Emotional support

One of the primary roles of a postpartum doula is to provide emotional reassurance to new parents. They create a safe space for parents to express their concerns, fears, and joys, offering a listening ear and a compassionate heart.

Practical Assistance

Postpartum doulas assist with various tasks, including newborn care, feeding support (breastfeeding or formula feeding), light household chores, and meal preparation. “ I encourage my clients to consider household tasks that can be delegated: returning packages, laundry, walking the dog, dishes, preparing meals etc,” says Miree. By helping with these everyday responsibilities, doulas allow parents to rest and recover, ensuring they have the energy to bond with their baby.

Education and Information

Doulas provide evidence-based information on infant care, feeding techniques, soothing methods, and postpartum recovery. They empower parents with knowledge, helping them make informed decisions that align with their parenting philosophies.

Partner Support

Postpartum doulas also offer support to your partner or even family members such as siblings or grandparents to help ensure that everyone in the family feels valued and cared for during this transition.

Encouragement for Self-Care

New parents often neglect their own well-being while caring for their newborn. Postpartum doulas emphasize the importance of self-care and assist parents in finding time for rest, relaxation, and personal activities.

How Much Does a Postpartum Doula Cost?

There is a huge variation in the cost of postpartum doulas and it often depends on geographic location as well as experience. “Typically in my area, rates range from about $30/hr to $60/hr,” says Mirree. Unfortunately, a postpartum doula is not always covered by insurance, but you can call your insurance company to verify. “If the representative does not know what a doula is, I would recommend calling back and speaking with another representative as they are likely just reading a script from the screen and you may receive misinformation,” Miree says. “Medicaid also reimburses for doula services in Florida, Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Rhode Island, District of Columbia, California, Indiana, Nevada and New Jersey.”

How to Find a Postpartum Doula

Finding a postpartum doula shouldn’t be challenging—it’s just important to know where to look and what qualifications to look for. 

1. Ask for Recommendations:

As with anyone you plan to hire, start with recommendations. Ask your 

obstetrician, midwife and friends and family for the names of reputable postpartum doulas in your area.

2. Online Doula Directories:

There are plenty of online directories that specialize in recommending doulas, including  DoulaMatch.net, DONA International or the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association. These directories allow you to search for doulas based on your location.

3. Local Prenatal Groups and Classes:

If you’re already part of a local prenatal group, or even one online, ask for recommendations. Doulas often network with these communities, and you might find recommendations from other parents.

4. Interview Potential Doulas:

Once you have a list of potential doulas, schedule interviews with them to assess their compatibility with you and your family. Be sure to inquire about their training, certifications, experience and the services they offer. You can also ask about their availability and if they provide a backup doula should they be unavailable.

5. Check References:

Don’t hesitate to ask for references from previous clients. Speaking to other parents about their experiences with the postpartum doula can provide valuable insights.

6. Discuss Fees and Services:

Clarify the doula’s fees, payment schedules, and the services included in their package. Some doulas offer different levels of support, so make sure you understand what is covered under the fee.

7. Trust Your Instincts:

Choose a doula with whom you feel comfortable and trust. The postpartum period can be a vulnerable time, so having a doula who provides emotional support and understands your needs is essential.


  • Jenn Sinrich

    Jenn Sinrich is the co-founder of Mila & Jo Media, an award-winning journalist and mom to Mila and Leo. She's also on-track to become a bereavement and postpartum doula to help women, like her, who've experienced pregnancy loss. She's a Peloton-tread addict who loves to cook and spend time with her friends and family. A Boston-native, she has always loved the Big Apple, which she called her home for close to a decade. Follow Jenn on Instagram. and visit her website.

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