During and after childbirth are both incredibly stressful times for new mothers. Whether they are a first-time mom or not, they will have many questions and anxieties regarding how to best care for their child and how to adjust their lifestyle to fit their new arrival. And while a doctor, midwife, or another medical professional will walk them through childbirth and original aftercare, many moms often wish for additional support as they navigate this new step in life.

You’re a soon-to-be mother and you’re starting to look into your options for professional help following the birth of your baby – you might wonder who or what you should hire! If you’re just looking for help during the initial transitional period of motherhood, consider a postpartum doula or newborn care specialist. Both of these roles are solely dedicated to helping parents and their newborns adjust to life post-childbirth. While often discussed synonymously, the two perform very different jobs, and it comes down to what new parents feel they need the most help with! First, you need to understand what each role entails.

What is a postpartum doula?

Postpartum doulas are different from birth doulas, who mostly assist parents during childbirth and immediately after. A postpartum doula, on the other hand, is someone who provides information and support through the recovery from childbirth to new parents. They provide non-medical support to ease physical symptoms during recovery, watch for signs of postpartum depression, and support the parents and older children as they adapt to having a newborn. Their shifts are dedicated to making your life run smoothly during this transitional period. Other roles may include:

  • Encouraging active participation from both parents in the care of the newborn
  • Light housekeeping and household organization
  • Making meals and running errands
  • Advocating for the parents in medical situations
  • Noticing early signs of and helping to manage postpartum depression and anxiety

A postpartum doula’s time with a mother and family ranges from a couple of weeks to roughly three months, depending on their needs.

What is a Newborn Care Specialist or Expert?

A newborn care specialist is a relatively new term that refers to a professional that focuses on caring for newborns. They are often thought of as night nannies but are more likely licensed professionals and registered nurses. Their level of support is extended to the newborn, making sure they are fed, bathed, and changed regularly, as well as working to get the newborn on a steady routine of feeding and sleeping. While they do offer advice and consultation to the parents, it’s solely regarding the health of the baby. Roles include:

  • Breastfeeding and swaddling guidance
  • Teaching the importance of routines
  • Overnight or Daytime care for the newborn
  • Cleaning or sterilizing bottles and breast pumps
  • Umbilical cord and Circumcision care
  • Bathing and diapering
  • Nursery organization
  • Knowledgeable in developmental milestones and help your baby reach them
  • An Advanced Newborn Care Expert is trained to care for the Mom and look out for signs of Postpartum Depression

A newborn care specialist typically works with your newborn for the first 12-16 weeks of their life. Newborn Experts can refer you to a post-newborn childcare specialist that is able to help after transitioning.

So what is the difference between a postpartum doula and a newborn care specialist?

The main difference is the individual the caretaker focuses on. While a newborn care specialist is there to care for the newborn and provide guidance to new parents, the postpartum doula is there to support and care for the mother and family.

Another difference in specialists is the way they approach the situation. Because many newborn care specialists are registered nurses, they provide some level of medical care, while a postpartum doula offers a more holistic approach to their care. Additionally, while newborn care experts typically work around the clock, a postpartum doula usually works for 4-6 hour shifts.

How do you choose which one to hire?

When deciding on the type of care you’d like to hire into your home following the birth, it all comes down to where you feel you need help! A postpartum doula is more helpful if you’re concerned about your mental health or general recovery, a newborn care specialist is the right choice if you’re a first-time mom and are unsure of how to take care of your newborn. It’s a very personal decision, and you’ll want to make sure you do all the necessary research before you decide while interviewing possible providers. There is no right or wrong answer, only works best for you and your family’s needs. No matter what you decide, remember that their job is to help you and your family navigate what is a joyous time and make it a bit easier for everyone!

Review all the Newborn Care services that Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny offers here and reach out to our team to help decipher what’s best for your family. We are here for you every step of the way.