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  • Writer's pictureKristan Jennings

The Magic of the 5 S's: Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Soothing Techniques

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

The journey of parenthood begins with the birth of a new baby, and the first few weeks can be an exciting yet challenging time. As new parents navigate these early days, they can benefit from the support of postpartum doulas. These professionals are trained to provide emotional, educational, and practical assistance to families during the postpartum period. One valuable skill that postpartum doulas possess is the ability to teach parents the 5 S's of soothing newborns, a set of techniques developed by Dr. Harvey Karp. In this blog post, we will explore the magic of the 5 S's, how postpartum doulas use them to soothe newborns, and how they can teach parents these techniques.

The 5 S's of Soothing Newborns

Dr. Harvey Karp, a renowned pediatrician and child development expert, has identified five simple yet effective techniques to soothe newborn babies. These techniques, known as the 5 S's, are designed to recreate the comforting sensations experienced by babies in the womb. The 5 S's include:

1. Swaddle: Wrapping a baby snugly in a blanket to provide a sense of security and warmth.

2. Side/Stomach position: Holding a baby on their side or stomach (only while awake and being held) to help them feel more secure and comfortable.

3. Shush: Making a gentle shushing sound near the baby's ear to mimic the sound of blood flow in the womb.

4. Swing: Gently rocking or swaying the baby in a rhythmic motion to recreate the soothing movement experienced in the womb.

5. Suck: Offering a pacifier or clean finger for the baby to suck on, as sucking is a natural calming reflex for newborns.

How Postpartum Doulas Use the 5 S's

Postpartum doulas are experienced in applying the 5 S's to soothe newborns and can help parents implement these techniques during the first few weeks of a baby's life. By using the 5 S's, doulas can help calm fussy babies, reduce the risk of colic, and promote a more restful sleep for both the baby and the parents. In addition to hands-on support, doulas can provide guidance on when and how to use each technique, ensuring that parents feel confident in their ability to comfort their newborn.

Teaching Parents the 5 S's

One of the primary roles of a postpartum doula is to educate and empower new parents. By sharing their knowledge of the 5 S's, doulas can help parents build the skills and confidence they need to soothe their newborns effectively. Some ways that postpartum doulas can teach the 5 S's include:

1. Demonstrating each technique: Postpartum doulas can show parents how to properly swaddle a baby, hold them in the side or stomach position, make shushing sounds, gently swing the baby, and offer a pacifier or clean finger for sucking.

2. Guiding parents during practice: As parents attempt to apply the 5 S's, doulas can provide guidance and feedback to ensure that each technique is being used correctly and safely.

3. Providing resources: Postpartum doulas can share additional resources with parents, such as videos and written instructions, to help them continue practicing the 5 S's on their own.


The first few weeks of a baby's life can be overwhelming, especially for new parents. However, with the help of a postpartum doula, parents can learn effective techniques to soothe their newborns and promote a more peaceful home environment. The 5 S's of newborn soothing are simple yet powerful techniques that can ease a baby's transition into the world and help them feel more secure and comfortable. By teaching parents the 5 S's, postpartum doulas can empower them with the knowledge and skills they need to provide the best possible care for their new addition.

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