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Do I Really Need a Doula? And What is a Baby Planner?

It used to be a way of life that throughout her pregnancy and after giving birth, a mother would have a community of women around her that cared for her and helped her take care of the baby. While that still may be true in other cultures, in our fast-paced and busy lives these days, many first-time moms feel like they are on an island to figure it out themselves. However, there are lots of pregnancy and baby services that have popped up to replace that community and to support a new mom through her journey. But do you really need all (or any) of those services?

Based on the fact that this info is coming from a baby planner, you may be assuming that the answer is yes. But read on to see what each of these services is and the person I think really benefits from each of them!

Sleeping InfantPhoto by Paperlily Photography

Doula. By definition, a doula is a woman who is professionally trained to assist another woman during childbirth. A doula is much more than a labor coach or helper in the hospital—she is often an advocate for a woman’s desires during childbirth and almost always a strong emotional support throughout labor. When a doula is present, there are lower rates of c-sections, and for most women, the total time spent laboring is decreased. Doulas are an amazing resource for women who have a specific birth plan (especially if you want to have an unmedicated birth).

Doula Assisted Childbirthimage from DONA International

Postpartum Doula. While a doula helps a woman through childbirth, a postpartum doula is really there to help a new mother in the first few days or weeks after bringing baby home. She ensures that a new mother is eating and bonding with baby, and she provides support for newborn feeding and general newborn care. A postpartum doula will often do light household chores like laundry or run errands for a family. A postpartum doula is a great option if you don’t have any relatives or a network close by that can pitch in during those first few weeks.

Certified Car Seat Technician. A majority of parents misuse their car seats every day (not intentionally, of course, as car seats are not easy to properly install). Certified car seat techs give one-on-one instruction on how to properly install your baby’s car seat and use it safely each time. Many local firehouses or police stations have at least one certified car seat tech on staff, but your time with this person may be brief. If you want total confidence that you can reinstall your car seat on your own, you can hire a local car seat tech for a dedicated amount time to teach you proper installation.

Lactation Consultant. Most new moms hope that breastfeeding will be instant and natural for you and baby, but as many new moms can attest, this isn’t always the case. Lactation consultants are professional breastfeeding specialists trained to teach mothers how to feed their babies. Today almost all hospitals have lactation consultants on staff, so they can provide some support while you are in the hospital. If you get home and are experiencing breastfeeding problems, such as latching difficulties, painful nursing or low milk production, a certified lactation consultant is the first call you should make.

Baby Proofer. Baby proofers come into your home and quite simply make it safer for children. Some baby proofers will even arrive at your home with a truck full of products that they can use to get your home ready, while others will come and assess your space and then return with curated products for your home. If you are a person who looks at the wall of safety items at your local baby store and gets immediately overwhelmed, or if you can’t stand the thought of seeing corner guards and mismatched gates, call your local baby proofer. Many baby proofers are geniuses at making your home super safe without interfering with your design aesthetic.

Baby Proofing

Baby Nurses. A baby nurse is a newborn care specialist who comes to your house when the baby comes home from the hospital. They generally assist parents for the first few weeks with all aspects of taking care of your newborn and can provide care overnight, during the daytime or 24 hours a day. Baby nurses are often great teachers for new parents on things like bathing, changing diapers, dressing and working towards getting baby on a schedule. When you need to rest, a baby nurse will hold the baby and ensure he is safe and well taken care of. The first few weeks with a newborn can be exhausting, and I wish that all new mothers could afford a baby nurse.

Baby Planner (sometimes called a Maternity Concierge). A baby planner is a private maternity consultant for expecting and new parents. Baby planners recommend products, resources, services and support, and provide information on almost any non-medical topic related to pregnancy, baby gear or getting started with baby at home. All baby planners should have a vast amount of knowledge related to baby gear and using it safely. At BabyNav, I like to tell people that we take away the administrative side of expecting a baby so you can enjoy your pregnancy. Having a baby planner can seem like a luxury, but for expecting moms with very busy schedules or for those who just simply feel overwhelmed, a baby planner can save you valuable time and money, and will definitely save you some unnecessary stress.

So how do you get started in searching for and hiring someone to fulfill any of these services? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Ask potential providers how many clients they have worked with on the specific services that you are interested in.
  2. Ask for references and call previous clients.
  3. Look up articles they have written, and watch any appearances they may have made.
  4. Make sure to look for a DONA certified doula, car seat techs certified through Safe Kids Worldwide and lactation consultants certified through IBLCE.

Which of these pregnancy and baby services are you interested in looking up right now?