Overnight Doulas: Benefits, Duties & Support
Bringing home a newborn is full of excitement, relief and joy. It also can be stressful, overwhelming and exhausting. An overnight doula can relieve the stress, provide calm assistance and allow parents to recharge themselves with rest and a good night’s sleep!
What do Overnight Doulas do?
If the mom is nursing, the doula will:
- help with breastfeeding especially in the early days of arriving home
- bring the baby to mom for feedings
- change and settle the baby after feedings are completed
- bring water and snacks to mom as needed
- if and when the mom is pumping her milk, the doula will care for the baby exclusively, retrieving any pumped milk from outside the mother’s room that she has pumped during the night.
- wash pumping equipment
If the mom is bottle-feeding the doula will:
- exclusively care for the baby for the duration of the night.
- feed, change, and settle the baby throughout the night
- keep notes about the baby with details such as how much the baby ate, time of feedings, diaper details and behavior
- give suggestions for helping the baby to lengthen his/her sleep time as the baby gets older
- clean the bottles and make new formula for the next day
What are the benefits of having an Overnight Doula?
- Parents can have their questions from the day answered about their baby by an experienced caretaker
- She can be trusted so you can really sleep knowing your baby is being gently nurtured and cared for
- You and your spouse both get rest
- Sleep helps healing so mom will be on her “feet” and herself sooner if she gets sleep
- Support with nursing relieves anxiety and cuts down the mother’s “up” time.
- Everyone is happier when they’ve slept!
- There is no minimum so you can have as many or as few nights as needed
What does a doula need?
- An Overnight doula does not need a separate bedroom; a couch or cot is adequate. Night doulas may nap if the baby sleeps.
- A doula does not need to be fed. Access to a bathroom and drinking water only is needed.
- She needs to know how you want to handle the morning. Will someone relieve her? Do you want the baby brought into your room?
What is the difference between an Overnight Doula and a Day doula?*
- Overnight doulas care for the baby only.
- Day doulas can do baby care but also light housework, cooking, shopping, and laundry for the whole family.
- Day doulas care for siblings
- Day doula are a minimum of 4 hrs./day and Overnight doulas are a minimum of 8 hrs./day
How is a Postpartum Doula different from a Baby Nurse? **
- Doulas have breastfeeding training and experience, baby nurses often do not.
- Doulas do not live-in. There is no minimum number of nights/days needed to contract. Baby nurses are usually live-in, 24 hrs./7 days/week with a one or two-week minimum
- Doulas do not require food. Families are required to provide food for their baby nurse. A day doula can go shopping and will make meals for the family.
- Doulas have their own car. Baby nurses typically do not have their own vehicle.
- Day doulas do laundry for the whole family. The baby nurse only does the baby’s laundry
- Day doulas will watch and care for siblings. Baby nurses care for the newborn only.
*This is the description for the Postpartum Doulas of MothersCare Doula Services of CT.
**The duties of a baby nurse may differ from these. It’s important to ask questions before hiring to see what things a baby nurse may or may not do.
About Susan Shepard
I am the owner/partner of MothersCare Doula Services in CT. I am a Postpartum doula and my business partner, Sheila Marley is a Labor doula. MothersCare places both Labor and Postpartum doulas with CT Families. I am the mom of five beautiful children, one set of twins. The best quote for me as a young mother and the catalyst for MothersCare is “It’s not weakness to know you need help, it’s wisdom.”