What is a Night Doula?
Postpartum night doulas provide in-home overnight support for the family of a newborn.
What does a night doula do?
The role of the doula at night is baby care and mom support (if needed).
- If the mother is nursing her baby, the doula can help with nursing if needed. The doula will change, settle and put the baby back to sleep when the mom is done feeding.
- If the mother is bottle feeding, the doula will care for the baby throughout the night – feeding, burping, changing, settling and putting the baby down after feeding.
- The doula will take notes during the night describing the baby’s activity such as waking/feeding times, amount the baby eats, type of dirty diapers and if the baby settled well or not.
- She will clean and wash bottles and pumping supplies. She can make formula ahead for the coming day.
Is a bedroom or food needed when having a doula overnight?
- No special room is needed when having an overnight doula. Night doulas do nap between feedings if the baby is sleeping. A couch is sufficient with the baby typically near the doula in a bassinet or other baby bed.
- The doula typically brings her own pillow and blanket with her.
- Providing anything other than water is not necessary for a doula.
What are the benefits of having an Overnight Doula?
The Doula will:
- answer questions about newborns and nursing which can be especially helpful during the first week home. This can definitely lessen anxiety.
- allow the mom to get more sleep even if she is nursing. Having a doula cuts down on her “up” time.
- give nursing support during the night, especially in the first few nights after delivery when nursing is the most challenging.
- help a new mom to recover and heal from pregnancy and delivery sooner than she might with less sleep. Healing happens when sleeping.
- provide help lifting the baby which is especially helpful for a mom with a C-section
- provide drinks and snacks for the mother during the night
- give the new mom and dad a reprieve from broken sleep, lessening the exhaustion common in the early weeks after delivery. Breastfeeding newborns feed, on average, 10 – 12 times in a 24 hr. period. Formula fed infants feed 8 – 12 times in a 24 hr. period.
- give the father the ability to get a full night’s sleep so he can either be a more effective help to his wife during the day or allow him go to work rested and able to think while still providing help for his spouse.
How is a night doula different from a day doula?
- Night doulas focus on baby care; daytime doulas focus on the needs of the whole family including baby care but also household tasks such as laundry, meal preparation, light housecleaning and sibling care.
- Both types of doulas can help with breastfeeding and answering newborn care questions.
What is the difference in a night doula versus a baby nurse?
- A night doula does not live in. A baby nurse typically lives in for a week or more at a time.
- A night doula can come one night or many. Baby nurse services usually have a minimum of consecutive days/nights needed to contract.
- A night doula helps with breastfeeding. She answers questions about nursing and helps with latching. A baby nurse does not usually support nursing but is there to give the baby a bottle.
- A night doula has her own car. Baby nurses do not usually have their own vehicle.
Do doulas do sleep training?
A doula can help with sleep training if the baby is a minimum of 4 months old. It is not recommended to let a newborn cry to sleep or to “sleep-train” before the baby is 4 months old.
Most babies who are at least 13 pounds or 3 months old start to stretch out their sleeping hours at night. A doula can provide practical assistance on helping a newborn to start to sleep longer stretches.
Can I meet a doula before hiring her?
Yes! A doula can meet with the family in their home prior to the start of services. It is recommended.
Some families will have a doula come the same night as the day they call us. Some families do fine with this, other’s realize after the doula arrives that they are not as comfortable leaving their baby with a person they have not met before as they thought they’d be.
New mothers sometimes underestimate how protective they will feel about their baby. (This is very normal and a good thing!) Meeting in advance will help increase the confidence and comfort level of the parents when having a night doula.
MothersCare overnight services are flexible. There is no minimum number of nights needed to contract. Some families try one night and add on from there. Services can also be extended after the original contract is fulfilled if the family would like to continue. Our doulas are warm, experienced, reliable and trustworthy. Please call us at 203-375-5719 or email us at [email protected] to get more information.
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.”