Motherhood

The Support You Need in Motherhood: Difference Between Doulas, Nannies & Mother’s Helpers

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October 16, 2021

Mothers never stop needing support.  

No matter what stage of motherhood you’re in, help is always wanted regardless if the need is emotional, physical, or spiritual.

As mothers, we rarely talk about what weighs us down. We try to appear as the “strong” woman that can do it all, get everything perfect the first time, and effortlessly attend to everyone’s needs...but our own.  

This can leave us feeling empty and depleted during one of the most precious stages of life.  

You need help. But a consistent problem in postpartum women is that they often find out too late — after they’re emotionally or physically exhausted — how much support they really need. In the haze of early newborn days, it’s easy to be completely overwhelmed by all the options out there.

What we need is this:  

  • Someone to guide you every step of the way, while still being compassionate, understanding, and respectful of your choices.    
  • Someone to assist with the basic household errands so that you can rest and not feel overwhelmed by all there is to do around you.  
  • Someone to act as an additional pillar of support for you and your growing family.

Let’s talk about Doulas, Mother’s Helpers, and Nannies.

It’s perfectly okay if you’re not familiar with any of these roles. We understand that as a mother, you’re juggling a variety of responsibilities while navigating the novelty of motherhood.  

That’s why we’re here. To give you a safe space abundant in knowledge so that you can move forward and make the best, well-informed decisions for you and your family.  

So, what is a Doula?  

Put simply, doulas offer emotional and physical support during labor, delivery, and postpartum. A doula can help you achieve the healthiest and most satisfying experience in those early days of motherhood by giving you extra coaching and support. While it’s not required for a Doula to be a medical professional or have an advanced degree, Doulas are well trained in childbirth procedures (at home or in a hospital setting) and the postpartum period based on a mother’s unique needs. However, they do not provide medical advice.  

Ultimately, Doulas are your fiercest advocate and act as a liaison between you and the medical team when the situation becomes too emotional or chaotic for you and your partner.  

When you’re searching for doulas, it’s important to keep your needs front and center. Are you looking for more professional and emotional support during childbirth? Are you unexpectedly having a high-risk pregnancy and need a more guided and gentle approach to the weeks or months leading up to birth? Will you benefit from a professional who is there specifically to nurture you and your family as you grow together with a newborn?

These are all essential questions you need to address as you begin your motherhood journey.

A doula is for you if you need:

  • Emotional or physical support regarding pain management, positioning, breathing, and coping during labor.
  • Someone that fully understands your birth plan and is equipped to advocate on your behalf.
  • Assistance with breastfeeding after childbirth and during postpartum.
  • A simplified explanation of the information given to you by hospital staff during labor and delivery, especially when there are complications.  
  • A reliable resource that can coach you through the tougher newborn days.
  • Emotional, physical, and informational support during the Postpartum Period

And even if you’ve already given birth, but you find that you need more support in feeling confident in motherhood, there are doulas who can assist you in postpartum.

Here are the three types of Doulas that can help you:

  1. Birth Doula. Just as the name implies, birth doulas assist pregnant women before, during, and after childbirth. While the medical team is attending to your baby, a Doula is there to support YOU and will be present in the room to make your birth experience as positive as possible.
  2. Antepartum Doula. These are Doulas who are specialized to work with women who are considered at high risk or experiencing difficult pregnancies.
  3. Postpartum Doula. After the baby is born, Postpartum Doulas are there to supply mom and family with information on newborn feeding, basic infant care, bonding, and emotional and physical recovery from childbirth. Doulas can even assist with meal prep and light housekeeping as another way to nourish and support mothers and families.  

Keep in mind that some Doulas may be well-versed in more than one specialty. For example, some birth doulas also offer postpartum care services. Just remember, while a doula can provide infant care, its purpose is to care for mom so that she can embrace motherhood from a place of strength.

What is a Mother’s Helper?    

If you’re not searching for emotional support but rather help with smaller, more mundane tasks while you care for your baby, a mother’s helper may be the right choice for you.    

A Mother’s Helper is a person that helps a family with their children while under close supervision from either parent who remains at home. This is ideal for stay-at-home parents, families who run a business from home, or parents who just need to take some of the burdens off their overflowing plates.  

Usually, individuals who are Mother’s helpers are students interested in pursuing childcare as a profession, or even a close relative or friend who would be interested in helping an overwhelmed mom. They’re not typically trained or certified in childcare, however.

Mother’s helpers assist with whatever the family needs at the time. This includes:

  • Light housekeeping and cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Errands
  • Cooking or meal prep
  • Babysitting while either parent takes a much-needed and well-deserved break
  • Chaeuffering older children

Consider your needs. If you need more support at home with the household errands rather than help with the care of your children -- or someone to help you keep your sanity by alleviating some of your chores -- you’re likely looking for a mother’s helper.

How is a Mother’s Helper Different From a Nanny?    

A mother’s helper is often confused with a nanny. They do have similarities, but nannies have one important distinction: they are meant to care for your children and are likely quite involved in their daily lives.

Nannies take sole-charge responsibility for your children when you’re away and can even handle some of the household errands. So while a mother’s helper will focus on the mother’s needs, a nanny’s primary focus is on the child’s needs.  

If you’re searching for someone who can be reliably present in your child’s life while you:

  • Go to work for long stretches of time
  • Need someone to watch your child so that you step out of the house and do something just for you
  • Want your child to stick to their schedules at home and sleep in their own beds
  • Feel confident that the person watching over your child knows what they’re doing and can nurture your child’s growth
  • Have someone that knows your child just as well as you do  
  • Need a trusted individual in your corner that supports you and loves your child just as you do

It’s also important to remember that a nanny is not a babysitter — another common misconception. Babysitters can supervise and watch your children when you’re away, but only on a temporary arrangement. Nannies are usually with families for years and strive to cultivate meaningful, long-lasting relationships.  

You Need Support in Motherhood

Our journeys as mothers were never meant to be done alone. We need our village.

We tend to think that our support systems are only composed of close friends and family — that they’re the only ones who can provide some form of relief and guidance. But in reality, your support system extends to the network of professionals and individuals specifically trained to help you through one of the most transformative stages in life.  

Whether you’re seeking a Doula who provides comfort throughout childbirth and postpartum, or a mother’s helper or nanny to be an essential resource when situations are tough at home, never forget that you always have options that are designed to give you a helping hand.  

Here at Newmom.me, we’re here to transform the motherhood narrative and make this process of finding support so much easier on you. We have a carefully curated, easy-to-use, and customizable platform where you can search by the type of service you need, location, and availability. You can easily sign up to review profiles of Doulas, Mother’s helpers, and other services. Let us help you embrace motherhood with a full heart.