Confinement Nanny or Postpartum Doula? What is the difference?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

There are a lot of similarities between these two professions and many may think that the choice between the two is purely a cultural one. But there are some bigger differences that are making even the staunchest of confinement nanny believers consider a change in how they prepare for parenthood.

The first big difference is the availability of support, and resources, prior to childbirth. A confinement nanny is booked for after childbirth and will be well versed in methods of newborn and postnatal care; but they will not have been part of your team prior to this. A postpartum doula, when utilised to our fullest, will meet with you prenatally to discuss how best to prepare for the postnatal period. We can provide evidence-based resources to allow you to make informed decisions before, during and after the birth – that interconnect with your postnatal recovery plan.

Of course it cannot be ignored that a Confinement Nanny may be employed on a 24/7 basis (normally for the first 30 days) and provides night nanny services when you are at your most tired; whereas, in Singapore, a Postpartum Doula is hired normally for appointments during the day, ranging from 1.5 hours to a package of 15 hours or more. Both a Confinement Nanny and a Postpartum Doula's primary concern is your physical and emotional recovery after childbirth. A confinement nanny is a helping hand once you get home from hospital, and that can definitely give you peace of mind, but so is a postpartum doula, we typically cover all the same points, we just come at things from a slightly different perspective.

An important difference is having a bespoke care plan. A confinement nanny has a ‘to do list’ that will be roughly the same for every client, ensuring the mother has the correct nutrition, gets rest, that baby is fed and cared for and that the infants laundry is done. But a Postpartum Doula’s ‘to do list’ is different for every family. We nearly always start at the beginning – your birth journey - as this has implications on the care, support and coaching you may need. You might not realize it at the time but a trained postpartum doula will plan how they care for you, and your baby, based on every little bit of information you give them; had a long labour, that tells us something, OB/Gyn used forceps, that tells us something, baby was taken to the nursery, that tells us something too. Every little detail of your birth helps a Doula form a care plan that is bespoke to you – no mother and baby’s story is ever the same, so the care shouldn’t be either.

Another big difference is that Postpartum Doula’s actively work themselves out of a job. Our responsibility is to leave a family with the skills and confidence to grow into the parents they desire to be. It is often said that Doula’s “mother the mother”, and that is true, we honour the fourth trimester and ensure that is a time of rest and recuperation. We will carry out newborn care for you so that you can rest properly, but in so doing we will quietly coach you in ways to ensure that when we leave your home, and family, for the last time you will have discovered ways to do all of necessary newborn care, self care and essential family and work life balances required of you. There shouldn’t be a sudden withdrawal effect; you may find yourself wishing we were around to make a cup of coffee and have a chat about something, but you will have essentially been coached into how to “mum it” all by yourself, and also how to find “your tribe” to ensure you have ongoing support.

As a rough guide a Postpartum Doula will help with, nurture and support you through, and coach you on[1]:

· Holding space for your birth journey

· Feeding (breast or bottle)

· Lactation counselling (if required)

· Newborn care (bathing, changing, safe sleep etc.)

· Postnatal recovery

· Self-care (finding time and confidence to fit in a shower, massage, exercise, alone time etc.)

· Tips and tricks for optimal parent-infant bonding

· Baby wearing/carriers (if required)

· Basic nutrition (including shopping and prepping meals if required)

· Tip and tricks for optimal child development

· Household organization (including infant laundry and light cleaning)

· Family support and dynamics (coaching siblings and other family members)

· Identify resources and necessary referrals to appropriate specialists and support networks (including mothers group and medical practitioners)

They say “it takes a village” and a Postpartum Doula is part of that village, part of your team. A Doula validates and enhances the parents’ intuitive ability to nurture and encourages them to develop and implement their own parenting style.

Father holding a newborn baby in his arms in an upright position

© Empowa 2020

Kathleen Rougier

7 September 2020

[1] Please note that a Postpartum Doula does not perform clinical or medical tasks, such as examining the mother or baby, or taking temperatures, blood pressure checks or any other type of postpartum clinical care