Domains of postpartum doula care and maternal responsiveness and competence

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2009 Mar-Apr;38(2):148-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2009.01002.x.


Objective: To describe the domains of postpartum doula care and illustrate how doulas facilitate development of maternal responsiveness and competence.

Design: Qualitative study using ethnographic method of participant observation.

Setting: Homes of mothers who received postpartum doula care.

Participants: Thirteen women and their infants; 4 postpartum doulas.

Results: Eleven domains emerged: emotional support, physical comfort, self-care, infant care, information, advocacy, referral, partner/father support, support mother/father with infant, support mother/father with sibling care, and household organization. Emotional support was used consistently and in combination with the other domains. Activities in all of the domains were used to facilitate the development of maternal responsiveness and maternal competence with 3 issues: resolution of infant feeding, integrating the infant into the family, and supporting developmental care and attachment.

Conclusions: Data suggest that by using 11 domains of care, postpartum doulas facilitate maternal responsiveness and competence. Development of a long-term relationship, mother-centered care, and education and support related to infant feeding, integrating the infant into family, and developmental care and attachment may contribute to these outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Care / methods
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / education*
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Assistants*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Postnatal Care / methods*
  • Social Environment
  • Social Support