Postpartum Doula Scope of Practice
At the International Doula Institute, we define a postpartum doula as a professional support person trained in the needs of the family in the days, weeks and months after birth or addition of a new baby. The doula offers non-judgmental support, guidance, evidence-based education and practical hands-on support immediately after birth through the first year. The word “doula” originates from the Greek word meaning woman servant.
The Professional Certified Postpartum Doula is trained in 5 Core Competencies:
- Caring for and Understanding the Needs of the Postpartum Birthing Person and Partner
- Caring for and Understanding the Needs of Baby/Babies
- Caring for and Understanding the Needs of the Siblings
- Caring for and Understanding the Needs of the Home
- Emotional Intelligence/Communication Skills
A Postpartum Doula’s Scope of Practice Includes:
- Assessing the needs of the family
- Providing non-medical recommendations and referrals
- Emotional support of the individuals parenting choices
- Encouragement and positive affirmations
- Newborn care hands-on education and care including:
- Normal newborn behavior
- Newborn appearance
- Sleep habits
- Dressing Baby
- Referring clients back to pediatrician
- Breastfeeding counseling
- Advanced breastfeeding education
- Normal postpartum adjustment vs a need to refer to another professional
- Help with comfortable positions for parent and baby
- Establishing helpful routines
- Establishing a good latch
- Establishing a good milk supply
- Learning to use a breast pump
- Proper milk storage
- Preparation of bottles and washing/cleaning/sterilizing
- Knowing typical cord and circumcision or intact care
- Establishing routine
- Organizing the nursery
- Light housework
- Sibling education and transition
- Care of big siblings
- Creating shopping lists, shopping, and meal preparation
What a postpartum doula is not:
- A postpartum doula is not a medical professional.
- A postpartum doula is not an herbalist and will not prescribe or suggest herbs or remedies.
- A postpartum doula is not a lactation consultant and will not make decisions about how the baby will be fed.
- A postpartum doula is not a psychologist or mental health professional.
- A postpartum doula does not make any decisions for the family.
- A postpartum doula does not perform clinical tasks such as checking the baby’s respiratory rate, check a mom’s c-section incision, suggesting medications (over the counter, prescription or herbal) or any other medical advice. If the doula also holds a degree in medicine, therapy, RN or the like, they will stay within the scope of practice of a doula during their time in a family’s home while contracted as a CPD.