Postpartum Doula vs. Newborn Care Specialist_ What’s the difference

Postpartum Doula vs. Newborn Care Specialist: What’s the difference?

You know you want professional in-home support after your baby arrives, but where to begin? As you research your options, you’ll soon discover that there are different types of professional caregivers for new parents and babies. In this post, we’ll talk about the similarities and differences between two types of professionals for new parents: Postpartum Doula vs. Newborn Care Specialist

Postpartum Doula vs. Newborn Care Specialist: The similarities

Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists are both trained to support new parents in the immediate period after birth throughout the newborn period. Many of their roles and responsibilities overlap. The primary goal for both Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists is to make the transition to life with a newborn easier for families. The way each professional does this is unique to their training, experience, and personal caregiving style. 

Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of tasks and roles both a Postpartum Doula and Newborn Care Specialist could do for your new family:

  • Breastfeeding, pumping, and bottle feeding guidance
  • Newborn care while parents sleep or practice self-care
  • Newborn care education i.e. swaddling tips, normal vs. abnormal newborn behavior, infant milestones, soothing techniques
  • Light household tasks i.e. folding laundry, washing bottles and pump parts, simple meal prep
  • Nursery organization
  • Daytime or overnight care, live-in or live-out care

Each postpartum care expert is unique and will have strengths or areas of specialty. For example some postpartum doulas specialize in nourishing meal preparation, while others stick to simple sandwich assembly. And some Newborn Care Specialists specialize in getting your baby into a routine ASAP, while others work better with parents who like to mostly design their baby’s routine themselves.

The training to become a PPD or NCS varies between training organizations, and not all trainings that produce the same credentials are created equal. When interviewing a potential postpartum doula vs. newborn care specialist, ask about their training and relevant continuing education. 

How does a Postpartum Doula differ from a Newborn Care Specialist?

The first answer on the difference between a postpartum doula vs. Newborn Care Specialist is that it’s unique to the individual. The truth is that many are cross-trained as both PPDs and NCSs, and bring both backgrounds to the table when supporting families. Each caregiver’s style, philosophy and expertise are different, which is why it’s so important that you click well with them. 

The second answer on the difference between a postpartum doula vs. Newborn Care Specialist is that typically, their main focus is slightly different. Generally speaking, a postpartum doula is trained to support new parents in best caring for their newborn, while a NCS is trained to be more hands-on with the newborn themselves. 

It’s important to note that there is a lot of crossover between both PPD and NCS trainings and variations between training organizations are many. But in general, the main roles of a postpartum doula are to support parents to best care for their baby and themselves through:

  • Parent education of newborn care and soothing
  • Breastfeeding and bottle feeding support
  • Light housework i.e. dishes, laundry
  • Newborn care reprieve while parents rest
  • Meal prep
  • Errands
  • Sibling and/or pet care
  • Referrals to additional support i.e. counseling for PPMDs or pelvic floor therapy

While the main roles of a Newborn Care Specialist are to ensure babies and parents are well tended to through:

  • Direct care of newborn i.e. bottle feedings, diapering, bathing
  • Parent education i.e. swaddling demonstration, soothing techniques
  • Getting babies into a routine, sleep conditioning
  • Nursery organization 
  • Washing and sanitizing bottles and pump parts
  • Light housework i.e. dishes, laundry

While again, each caregiver is unique, in general a postpartum doula is slightly more focused on parental support while a Newborn Care Specialist is more focused on newborn support. For example, a postpartum doula might be more inclined to teach a parent to babywear so they can get things done while baby naps in the sling, while a Newborn Care Specialist might be more inclined to teach a baby to nap independently so parents can get things done during naptime. Both types of professionals understand that the well-being of both parents and babies are interlinked, they are just trained to have slightly different approaches. 

There is a common misconception that only NCSs provide overnight or 24/7 live-in postpartum care, while postpartum doulas only offer daytime support. Both types of professionals can offer any/all of these types of care, it just depends on the person!

PPD vs. NCS: Which is right for your family?

You may have a strong feeling which type of professional is best for your family, or you may still feel uncertain. That’s okay! While professional training shapes a lot about a professional’s style, each caregiver brings their unique history and experience to the table. The goal is to find the professionals that best suit your family’s needs, not to hyper–focus on the specific credentials. When it comes down to it, deciding who is best to support your family is beyond the question of postpartum doula vs. Newborn Care Specialist. What matters most is if the individual puts you at ease and can provide support that your unique family needs.