The Difference between a Nanny and a Postpartum Doula
I was in the store the other day with my daughter when the conversation came up. You know, “what do you do for a living?” I actually really love talking about what I do and what First Coast Doulas brings to the shores of Jacksonville! So, I responded with a smile and an enthusiastic, “I’m a postpartum doula!” *Crickets* “A wha????” After briefly explaining what I do and how we help new parents, he nodded with an expression of understanding and said, “So, you’re a nanny!” Uh, no.“Not exactly. Not at all, really” I responded. There are actually differences between a nanny and a postpartum doula.
“What’s the difference between a nanny and a postpartum doula then?” he asked with genuine curiosity.
And I proceeded to explain while I love nannies, I and the postpartum doulas here at First Coast Doulas, are not nannies. Our services are similar for sure, but our primary functions differ tremendously. I went on to explain.
“…Elizabeth fed me and gave me a hug when I cried and never brought it back up. She understood. She helped me understand what I was going through and even helped my husband understand me a little better. I hope Elizabeth is around when I have my second baby because I don’t want to do it without her.” ~ Danielle M. Jax., FL
So, what’s the difference between a nanny and a postpartum doula?
A nanny is there solely for the baby and kids.
They are there to attend to their needs such as feeding, bathing, keeping to routines, and adhere to the daily agenda while the parents work or otherwise take a break. They form a close relationship with the children and become a trusted adult. A nanny is a caregiver.
Things a nanny might do:
- Keep baby or children at their home while parents go to work on a regular basis with regular hours
- Help create, set, and stick to daily routines based on their personal knowledge and relationship with the children
- Provide educational activities and developmentally appropriate learning experiences
- Discipline, prepare meals, drive children to extracurricular activities, appointments, and school
A postpartum doula is there for the family.
They’re there to attend to the family’s needs, which will vary from family to family and day to day. A lot of the time the family, having a new baby, is not aware or able to articulate their needs. The postpartum doula, using their knowledge and intuition, helps them identify what those needs and goals are and helps them to navigate the terrain of adding to their family. A bit esoteric, yes…
Things a postpartum doula might do include:
- Listen, reassure, and offer emotional support to new parents as they recount the birth experience and navigate the days following adding a new baby to their family.
- Educate and advise about the woman’s postpartum body/mind
- Help with researching, purchasing, and assembling baby gear
- Provide local resources such as playgroups, therapists, etc.
- Help siblings adjust to a new baby
- Encourage parents to identify how they want things to go/what they need on their own terms and then help them implement those goals into manageable routines
- Cook and prepare light meals, lightly clean, etc.
- Assist with infant feeding, whether at the breast or bottle or both
- Newborn soothing and sleep
- Help to create a relaxing environment for the parents to enjoy snuggling with their newest family member
- Support the new parent(s) on their first ( or fifth or twenty-fifth) outing. Think; breastfeeding for the first time in public, or preparing and warming a bottle while you change a crying newborn in the backseat or vice versa.
Encouraging you along the way!
“It was like having my sister take the night shift, but I didn’t have to explain my choices. I didn’t think I’d need much help after I gave birth, but we were both exhausted a week into being home. Having our postpartum doula, Liz here helped me relax and sleep better!” “P.S. My sister is little jelly though!” ~ Marcia G. Jax., FL