Doulas & Midwives Work Hand in Hand
It is a common misconception that when choosing the midwifery model of care, a doula is not needed. Both midwives and doulas play very distinctive roles in the care of the birthing mother. Doulas serve as a complimentary role to your doctor or midwife. When choosing your birthing team, it is important to know the roles of each in order to decide exactly what you need to have your desired birthing experience.
A midwife is a licensed medical professional who is responsible for the health of you and your child prenatally and during childbirth. Although a midwife works with each woman and her family to identify her unique physical, social and emotional needs, she is ultimately responsible for the health and safety of you and your baby. This requires them to be especially alert and attentive to your medical needs during your active and second stage of labor to ensure that your baby Is safely birthed into your loving arms.
Your Midwife will:
- Run prenatal tests
- Advise you on health during pregnancy, birth and postpartum
- Prescribe maternal health related supplements or medications
- Monitor you and baby during labor and birth
- Perform physical examinations prenatally, during labor and postpartum
- Consult with an obstetrician if a medical complication arises which is out of the midwifery scope of practice
- Do their best to help you have a comfortable birth, but their primary responsibility will be their clinical tasks.
A doula on the other hand, is not a medical professional. A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. (DONA International) Although doulas do not provide medical care, research shows that they do increase your likelihood of avoiding unnecessary medical interventions such as instrumental delivery and cesarean birth. "Doulas are important to women because their sole purpose is to provide physical, emotional, and informational support during labor and birth without doing anything medical," says Ami Burns, a childbirth educator and doula in Chicago and the founder of Birth Talk (birthtalk.com).
Your Doula will:
- Establish a prenatal relationship with you
- Help you create a vision for your birth
- Direct you to resources in the community for pregnant women and families
- Help keep you and your partner feel calm and supported during labor
- Use comfort measures to help you manage the intense physical sensations of labor and birth
- Make suggestions regarding laboring and birthing positions depending on how your labor is progressing
- Ensure you feel confident communicating your needs to your health care provider
- Provide postpartum emotional support and help with breastfeeding initiation.
- Direct you to your doctor or midwife for any medical questions.
Midwives and doulas work well together, they compliment each other’s roles as a team. "A holistic care approach -- one that involves an integrated team, including a physician, midwife, nurse, doula, and other health educators -- allows everyone to play toward their strengths and provide the mother continuous support and education," (Dr. Byrne in Parenting Magazine). Doctors, midwives and nurses are able to better attend to the health and safety of their patients when there is a doula present to tend to the emotional and physical needs of the mother.