Birth Doulas or Postpartum Doulas?


Which type of doula is the best choice for you?

There can be confusion about the differences between postpartum doulas and birth doulas. Although there may be some overlap, especially in the area of breastfeeding, the roles are different. Birth doulas primarily assist mothers during late pregnancy and through birth with a follow-up postpartum visit. Postpartum doulas will often meet parents during pregnancy, however all of their support comes in right around the time that mother and baby arrive home and for a few weeks later.

Here are some basic differences between the two types of doulas:

  • Assistance with baby care
  • Assistance in breastfeeding
  • Help in basic housekeeping – laundry, dishes, meal preparation
  • Helping with needs of older children
  • Supporting mother through adjustment to early parenting
  • (Support will be up to 4-6 weeks postpartum as needed by mother)

Typical services provided by a birth doula:

  • Assistance in writing birth plans prior to labor
  • Supporting mother with physical comfort measures in labor
  • Providing emotional support during labor and birth
  • Mediating between parents and medical staff during birth
  • Assistance with immediate breastfeeding and in postpartum visit
  • (Support typically ends with the postpartum visit 1-2 weeks after birth)

Think of it this way. If you anticipate most of your help will be needed during labor, you will be more interested in a birth doula. (See the top ten questions to ask a doula if you are selecting a birth doula.) If you expect to need more help after the baby comes, a postpartum doula is your best bet. Some doulas can offer both services, so if you are interested, be sure to enlist her help for birth and postpartum services if needed. For more information about doulas, see DONA International.

What type of doula did you use?