We believe that all newly postpartum people deserve support. Sometimes, that support can be as simple as a MealTrain set up by your best friend, or your mom coming over to wash and fold all of those tiny little onesies. In other instances, you may need or want additional support from trained professionals or community support people.
But how do you know what kind of postpartum support professional you need? Here’s a quick run-down on some of the support professionals you can choose from in your fourth trimester.
Postpartum Doula: A postpartum doula is a trained person who specializes in the fourth trimester (the first three months after birth). Postpartum doulas provide emotional, mental, physical, and informational support to new families during the weeks and months immediately following birth. This can look many different ways, but it is always family-centered, non-medical, and supportive. Often, postpartum doulas focus on practical life support, emotional and mental support, and tips/advice for the care of yourself and your baby after birth. In general, postpartum doulas do not accept health insurance, although it may be possible to use funds from a health savings account to pay for their services.
Lactation Consultant: Lactation consultants are medical professionals who specialize in the management of lactation. This can include education, support, troubleshooting, identification of problems and issues, and much more. The official certification for a lactation consultant is International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, commonly abbreviated as IBCLC. IBCLCs have undergone rigorous training in breastfeeding, including 90 hours of education and hundreds of hours of clinical lactation support. Nurses, midwives, physicians, or doulas can also be IBCLCs. Most hospitals employ them, but they are also found in community settings like clinics, education centers, and more. IBCLC services may be reimbursable through health insurance, but it often depends on the setting—if you need or want to pay with insurance, check with them before making an appointment.
Sleep Consultant: Sleep consultants are professionals trained in pediatric sleep. Their role is to help parents figure out the best way to support their children in getting sleep. This is often done through advice and/or specific methods or approaches. Most of them are trained through indepedent certification programs and work alone or in teams in a business model. Some doulas, nurses, or other types of professionals are also trained as sleep consultants. In general, sleep consultants do not accept health insurance, although it may be possible to use funds from a health savings account to pay for their services.
Pelvic Floor Therapist: Pelvic floor therapists are physical therapists who have additional or specialized training or certification in working with the pelvic floor. Therapists can help with issues related to incontinence, prolapse, tone, tightness, and more. Therapy might consist of specific exercises, touch, and more. Some pelvic floor PTs may accept health insurance, while others may not.
Pediatrician: Pediatricians are doctors specializing in infants, children, and adolescents. They’ve gone through medical school and a medical residency focused on children. Some may have specialties within pediatrics or specific areas of interest, like neonatology (newborns). They practice in hospitals and clinics. Family medicine physicians may also practice general pediatrics. Pediatric practices accept health insurance.
Perinatal Therapist or Mental Health Professional: A perinatal therapist is a mental health professional who specializes in the perinatal period, which includes fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and early parenthood. Mental health professionals have a variety of training and certifications, from LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) to LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist) to psychologists (who generally have doctorate degrees) and psychiatrists (who are medical doctors specializing in psychiatry). Many have their own independent practices, but some may be affiliated with hospitals or other institutions. In general, they accept health insurance.
These days, you can connect with most (if not all) of these postpartum practitioners virtually. There are some instances when an in-person appointment makes more sense (to address pelvic floor scar tissue, for instance, or to do a newborn exam), but often, you can get the help you need from the comfort of your own home.
Here at Major Care, we offer 24/7 virtual postpartum doula support nationwide in the US, from our experienced, vetted postpartum doulas. Ask us for recs for other practitioners—we’ve got you!
This post (and the image above) was based on an article our founder Mandy Major wrote for Healthline.com. lllustration by Healthline.com, concept by Mandy Major.