Ok. Now that you know the basics of what a Postpartum Doula does, I'll share with you 20 surprising things that your Postpartum Doula might do (if you ask). Almost all of the things on this list are things that other Postpartum Doulas or I have actually been asked to do. However: Most of these are not typical tasks for a postpartum doula, and this, in no way, guarantees that all postpartum doulas will be willing to do these. I also want to add that a Doula is not a medical professional, and therefore should never do any clinical tasks or give medical advice. That is definitely out of a doula's scope. If you have a medical concern, your doula should refer you to a medical professional or point you to resources with unbiased, evidence-based information.
1. Help set up/organize baby's room before he/she is born. This can be especially helpful for first-time parents. You probably will have been given about 482 packages of diapers and 956 receiving blankets at your baby shower. You may not know how much of what you will actually need or which things you will need when. Or maybe you know exactly where you want things, but you procrastinated too long, and now you're barely even able to waddle to the bathroom. Not to worry... call your postpartum doula to ask for a "nesting assist."
2. Water your plants/garden. Because ain't nobody got time for that.
3. Accompany you on a trip to the zoo with your baby and other kids. Some might argue that this is more of a nanny task. But I think it's a brilliant idea to ask your Postpartum Doula to do this! When you literally haven't left the house for 2 weeks and your kids are bouncing off the walls and you're all losing your ever-loving-minds... You need to do this for your mental health. But getting out of the house with a baby and young kids can be exhausting and stressful (which kinda defeats the purpose of getting out of the house!) Your Postpartum Doula can help by wearing the baby and keeping him/her in the shade, while you take your big kids to do all the fun things. Or tag-teaming with the whole lunch-getting process. And then taking the big kids out while you feed the baby. Things you might not be able to do without a second set of hands and eyes!
4. Play with your dog in the yard. (Sorry, Fido, there's a new kid in town... but I know your owners still love you!)
5. Prep freezer meals before baby is born. Or this could be done when the postpartum hours you purchased are about to run out.
6. Go clothes shopping with you. Whether it's to help you find clothes for your new postpartum body, or to shop for your kids or partner, this task can take 3 times longer when you have a baby/kids in tow. Your postpartum doula can take care of baby/kids while you shop and try on clothes. And she/he can give you tips on what styles may work best with that post-baby belly (if you ask).
7. Go with you during pregnancy to add items to your baby registry. This is especially helpful for first-time parents. How are you supposed to know which of the millions of types of pacifiers to choose? And how many burp cloths do you actually need? Are you really gonna use that bottle warmer or wipes warmer? Is a video monitor worth the money? What are the latest carseat recommendations and safe sleep recommendations? How many diapers will you go through in a day? Your Postpartum Doula can give you the information to make these decisions easy, and answer questions you might not even think to ask!
8. Bake Brownies. Because sometimes you just NEED them.
9. Support you after adopting a baby. Postpartum Doulas are for anyone with a new baby, including adoptive parents! Did you know that adoptive parents can get Postpartum Depression, too? Adoption has unique challenges, and some doulas even specialize in working with adoptive families.
10. Go with you to your baby's tongue tie revision, circumcision, or other procedure or appointment. Sometimes these procedures or early appointments can be overwhelming. You may want your Postpartum Doula there to comfort you and help give you peace of mind. Or you may want your Postpartum Doula to stay with the baby during a procedure that you worry will be too difficult for you to watch.
11. Polish your silver...? Yep, I know of two Postpartum Doulas who have been asked to do this. Maybe you need it to be done in preparation for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? Hey, it can't hurt to ask!
12. Help you get to and from the toilet. Sometimes basic tasks like this are difficult, such as after a Cesarean birth or if you've had a severe vaginal tear or birth injury. Don't worry, your doula has seen it all and won't be phased at all by this task.
13. Help you rearrange furniture. Maybe you need to make room for that infant swing in your living room. Or maybe the room just feels too cluttered, and if you're gonna be sitting in there feeding a baby for 60% of your day, you just NEED things rearranged. This is something you should NEVER try to do yourself right after having a baby!
14. Support you while your baby is in the NICU. This can be a stressful, sometimes traumatic situation. And while the NICU staff is very supportive, there are things they just can't do for you. Your Postpartum Doula can go to your house to feed your pets, do a load of laundry, grab some stuff that you need, etc. She/he can go out and get you some decent food when you're getting sick of hospital food. Or sit with you and just LISTEN as you process the birth and express your worries/concerns. Some NICUs will allow your Postpartum Doula on the unit, so she/he can sit with you while your partner goes home to shower. And your doula can help you interpret what the doctors are saying or just help you to remember what they are saying, since you are likely sleep-deprived.
15. Sort through your pantry and fridge and throw out old/expired food. This is a task I personally enjoy doing!
16. Clean up the honey that your partner knocked over before leaving for work that's oozing all over the top shelf, because you probably shouldn't climb up on the counter top to do it right after you've had a baby. True story that happened to another doula.
17. Decorate (or take down) the Christmas tree. Not one that I've personally done, but I would LOVE this task!
18. Feed the chickens and goats. Or any other farm animal you might own.
19. Iron clothes. I've heard about a couple of doulas who were even asked to iron baby's clothes, including bibs and burp cloths! Hey, if that's what you need that day to help you feel like life is under control, I will oblige!
20. Clean up the 5 lb bag of rice that the cat ripped open in the middle of the kitchen floor. Because, sometimes, these things put you over the edge, and you just can't deal. (Another true story, told by a fellow Postpartum Doula.)
So, there you go! These are just some of the many things your Postpartum Doula might do, if you ask, aside from the typical tasks she/he does. Postpartum Doula services really are catered to what YOU and your unique family needs!
If you're a Postpartum Doula... What unusual or unique tasks have you been asked to do, and did you do them? Comment below; I'd love to hear your stories!