Today, we are wrapping up World Doula Week! All of the ladies on the Comforts of Home team have or are still currently doulas in addition to being midwives or student midwives, so we have a heart for doulas around here.
One question that I hear a lot is “What is the difference between doulas and midwives?” I frequently have people mistake what I do for being a doula. While I still offer doula services, that is not the bulk of my services. So what is a doula?
A simple answer is a paid labor support person, but that definition is very limiting. Most doulas meet with the birthing woman at least 1-2 times prenatally. They listen to what kind of birth you want, what interventions you are ok with and which you only want to use as a last resort. Many doulas will help you write up a birth plan that will reflect your desires that the hospital staff and obstetrician will read and respect. Doulas provide non-medical support during labor. They help with breathing, massage, using movement to help alleviate pain or assist with baby’s decent. Emotional support is one of the key roles that a doula provide. Studies show that women that hire doulas drastically reduce their need for medicated pain relief and unnecessary medical interventions. Having a doula there encouraging you, providing non-medical pain relief, and simply just talking you through the contractions can be key for getting you through the hardest parts of labor. Doulas can help explain different procedures and help you weigh out the pros and cons to them. They do not advocate for you with the medical staff or offer medical advice.
There are tons of doula training programs out there. Some doulas prefer to pursue a certification with a particular organization, but that training is not mandatory. Doulas are not regulated by any state or national organization as they are not providing medical support. Doulas can provide support in home, at birthing centers, and hospitals.
Currently there are still many routes to becoming a midwife in the United States. Some choose to become a nurse first and then go on to get a Master’s degree in Midwifery. These are called Certified Nurse Midwives. Some women choose to do a direct entry program for midwifery. Here in Texas, we are called Licensed Midwives. In Oklahoma, we are recognized as legal but are not licensed, but are listed with the state. Depending on the state legislation for your particular state, they may be called lay midwives, Certified Midwives, Documented Midwives, etc. The North American Registry of Midwives offers a national recognition for those that complete their requirements. These people are called Certified Professional Midwives.
Midwives may provide full prenatal, labor and birth, and postpartum care for lower risk women. Many of these services can include lab work, ultrasounds, etc depending on what their particular state allows for. Most women use them in lieu of an obstetrician, but some choose to do co-care to have a back up in place. Where a midwife practices depends on what type of licensing or certifications she has. When interviewing midwives, those are important questions to ask.
Should I Hire a Doula?
The short answer is yes. Are you planning a hospital birth? Most definitely, yes! Is this your first baby? YES! Are you going for a VBAC? That would be a great idea. Planning a homebirth? Eh, it depends. Some midwives are great at doing the doula work too. Others not so much. A little secret though, it makes my job easier if you have one too. I love having the opportunity to work with doulas in the area. If you are considering hiring one in addition to me, I have cards in my office of some great doulas that I know. If you decide that a homebirth is not right for you, but want the opportunity to work with me anyway, please contact me about my doula services.
What if My Mom or Partner Want to Be My Doula?
A doula will still be beneficial to you. A good doula shows them how they can help you best. If you have a long labor, a doula gives them an opportunity to get rest if they need it. Food and potty breaks are also a necessity for your loved ones and where a doula would be beneficial. It can be an emotional time for your spouse or mother to see you in labor. A doula will provide support to everyone involved during those emotional times.
Did you have a doula? Did you find that it was beneficial? Would you hire a doula again? Please share this post with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe.