What Exactly Is A Post-Partum Doula?

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By Shannon Hernandez

Editor’s Note: Shannon Hernandez is an experienced doula and founder of Dream Team Doulas, which offers birth and post-partum doula services in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. You can hear more advice from her at the Journey From Pregnancy to New Parenthood panel on November 5-6 at 11am at the LA Baby Show, or stop by her vendor booth on either day.

We all remember sympathizing with Cinderella while she cried in the cinders of her kitchen fireplace after an exhausting attempt at finishing an impossible to-do list imposed by her evil stepmother. Cinderella did everything she possibly could in order to attend the ball, but despite her efforts, it was only made possible with the help of her fairy godmother, whose magic enabled Cinderella to go to the ball, meet her prince, and live happily ever after.

Essentially, a doula is a fairy godmother for moms and their newborns, doing everything in their power to help take some of the stress away from a new mom’s plate, while also preparing her to mother on her own.

As most doulas would agree, we all feel called to do this work, having special empathy in our hearts for the sacred feminine art of creation during pregnancy, delivery, and mothering after birth. Doulas wear many hats including (but not limited to) maternal nurturer, empowering force, guide, lactation helper, cook, healer, infant care educator, bonding expert, and baby soother. A good postpartum doula intuitively assesses the immediate needs of the mother and the child without even having to ask. She makes a mental check list of what is needed in order to foster the new mother’s smooth transition into parenthood. It could be making dinner, teaching different soothing methods, guiding the mother and baby to find a proper latch or listening and holding a safe space for the new mother to release tears as she shares her birth story.

Whatever the specific needs of the family, the results are the same; the family is left with a feeling of confidence, hope, encouragement, spiritual and physical nourishment along with valuable techniques for caring for their new baby after the doula leaves their home.

Like Cinderella felt when she couldn’t go to the ball, a new mother can feel overwhelmed and inadequate no matter how much effort or energy she puts into the daily tasks of motherhood. Post-partum doulas are there help the mother fully realize the qualities that she already has, like intuition and maternal love, as well as help to enable her to confidently step into her new found calling – motherhood.

As a doula’s role comes to a close, we quietly wean ourselves out of the home, often staying in touch and staying in the hearts of the families with whom we worked, as our relationship is a special one that transcends time.

As the founder of Dream Team Doulas, Shannon Hernandez is in charge of evaluating the standard of care and service given by Dream Team Doulas. She has created a business plan that holds each member to the highest standards of care. She has assisted hundreds of families over the past thirteen years through the birthing and postpartum process. Shannon is a mother of three and has been helping mothers in maternal health since 1997.