What Exactly Is A Postpartum Doula?

In the past community would come together to support new mothers. Now we live in nuclear families and culturally don’t have much understanding of women’s needs after childbirth. Sadly many new mothers feel isolated, overwhelmed and exhausted.


Postpartum doulas are non-medical professionals designed to fill this gap with emotional and physical support during the life-changing transition to motherhood. Postpartum doulas help women step into their roles as mothers with confidence and satisfaction.

But most people still haven’t heard of a postpartum or postnatal doula. We can’t even really agree on the name! Postnatal is more commonly used in Australia and postpartum in the US. But I prefer and use postpartum, as I feel it is a more mother-centric word. For me ‘natal’ implies the baby.

Recently a midwife asked one of my doula students what she had to offer her clients since she is not a sleep trainer or a baby care specialist. It is a question you will get asked if you step into this career, and it can be quite confronting. But my student had a good perspective, she used the challenge as an opportunity to get more clarity around her role and the value of our work.

I’m in the process of clarifying the role of Postpartum Doulas Australia-wide, both with our insurers and our industry body. So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the best way to define our work. Of course, every doula is different, and every mother has different needs and expectations. But here is what I’ve come up with. Let me know if you have anything to add.

Postpartum doulas will support new parents to bond with their baby encouraging them to spend time together. The postpartum doula will facilitate the parents in gaining a deeper understanding of their babies personality and temperament and develop confidence in their unique parenting style.

Postpartum doulas typically provide companionship and emotional support by actively listening, providing a shoulder to cry on or having a cup of tea and a laugh together with the mother.

Beyond emotional support, which is provided at every visit, sessions will vary according to the mothers needs on that day and may include some of the following.

In order to empower new parents in their choices a postpartum doula may provide evidence based information regarding basic baby care and normal breastfeeding. A postpartum doula will always make referrals where appropriate.

Having a baby is a big transition for everyone and a postpartum doula will also provide support for partners, siblings and extended family during the adjustment period. Postpartum doulas understand the dynamics of all relationships will be affected and support positive communication.

Postpartum doulas will endeavour to build a community for the new mother by connecting her with classes, groups and other professionals. Families may need support managing visitors, extended family, friends and neighbours including boundaries.

A postpartum doula will encourage the mother with self-care and in asking for help.

Physical and practical support may include light cleaning and cooking nutritious meals for the whole family.

Want To Be A Postpartum Doula?

This course will teach you everything you need to know and make you eligible for insurance to start working as a postpartum doula in Australia.