Ask A Doula: Postpartum Doula Boundaries

I’m a new pp doula and I’m working with my first client. In my third day with this client, she asked me to bag up 50 treat bag samples for her fitness distributorship that she can hand out to people at a church party later this month. I did it but was really uncomfortable because it’s not what pp doulas do and I also don’t like MLMs. Was I wrong to do it for her? What should I say if she asks me to do something like this again? “

I’ve asked my long time friend and very experienced postpartum doula Kristy Huber to chime in on this one:

For this experience, sadly you must continue to do what you’ve already done. I think if you address it now you will cause friction and possible postpartum anxiety. Take a deep breath and wear a smile and do it joyfully.

But in the future you must be very specific on the responsibilities and limitations of a postpartum doula. In your contract make sure you provide the exact information and duties that you will perform. Saying things like I will provide non-medical physical, emotional, and informational support after the birth of your baby. Things like helping with the mom self care, recovery postpartum, comfort measures, newborn care parenting information and provide assistance and learning on how to care for a newborn. You may also include talking about things that you will do perhaps like a batch or two of laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, preparing meals, providing care for other children, etc. Things that you will not do should be printed or at least explained if not on your contract. Things like I will not do yard work, shoveling, window washing, dog walking, assisting you in you career work, etc.

I often custom make my postpartum care services for each family and you may want to very much be aware of what they anticipate your care to look like. If it is out of the scope of practice of a postpartum doula then that must be addressed prenatally before you even walk in the house postpartum. However, I have done many things for women that I thought I would never do. For example, picking up loved ones at the airport, changing beds and getting rooms ready for Grandma to come and visit, wrapping Christmas presents, etc. Good luck and remember the key to successful postpartum care is setting up your exact proposed services prenatally! Work out all the kinks. My personality is if it helps the mom and her healing or her mental well being I will almost do anything. However protect yourself by having excellent contracts and verbal communication.

Ask anything you want and get an answer from a doula with 20 years of experience! Are you a doula with a sticky situation you don’t know how to handle? Confused about what your clients might be expecting for you? Are you a parent wondering what a postpartum doula would really do for you? Wondering how you go about hiring a doula? Trying to figure out taxes for your doula business? I’ll tackle any doula-related question you have!

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