"I Have a Midwife...Do I Need a Doula?"
A question I am asked often is
"what is the difference between a doula and a midwife?"
"I have a midwife.... do I need a doula?"
Doulas and midwives are NOT interchangeable! But they do work as a team!
Your midwife provides your medical care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Her job is to ensure you and your baby are healthy, safe and remain low-risk during your pregnancy and birth. The midwifery model of care also specifies that midwives should provide the birthing mother with personalized education, counseling, and prenatal care, as well as continuous hands-on support during labor and delivery.
We have several fantastic midwives here in the Treasure Valley, both Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) at our hospitals and birth centers, and Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) who support birth center and home births.
Your doula provides physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. She does not give any medical care to your or your baby, but rather is focused on your emotional well-being during pregnancy and your physical comfort during labor and birth.
So how do midwives and doulas work together?
In a nutshell: we have the same goals! Both your midwife and your doula want you and your baby to be safe and healthy, and for your birth experience to be safe, empowering, and magical!
Here are a few specific ways I've worked with midwives in the past:
One of my favorite things to do with midwives is to come up with a list of positions to try with our client in labor or during pushing. Both midwives and doulas are well-versed in a variety of labor positions, and midwives are often more-than-willing to try out unique positions to help labor progress or help make pushing more effective.
If a midwife needs to duck out to check on another patient, for example, or if her role as a medical professional requires her to stay focused on the fetal monitor or the mother's vitals, as a doula I am able to continue to provide physical and emotional support for the laboring mother and her partner.
Having an extra professional in the room who is trained to be intuitive to not only the mother's emotional needs, but the partner's as well, means that both people will also be supported. In the event of an unexpected or emergency Cesarean birth, for example, the midwife can accompany the mother to the OR while the doula stays to provide comfort and reassurance to the partner.
So there you have it! Midwives and doulas are both invaluable members of a birth team who work well together to create positive and safe experiences.
Do you plan to have a midwife on your care team? A doula?