What is a doula?
A doula is your sacred and devoted supporter before, during, and after childbirth — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By having the presence of a doula, C-sections are reduced by 51%, and the likelihood of having maternal anxiety or pain meds administered is lessened. Doulas will advocate for you at all times to make sure your specific desires for your birth plan are being met.
What is a midwife?
A midwife can perform many of the same things as a doctor, and is recognized as a medically trained professional. They can prescribe pain medications, are qualified to monitor and deliver babies, and can perform gynecological exams. A midwife can replace an OB-GYN as long as it is a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy (If an emergency surgery is necessary, an OB-GYN will need to be called for backup). Midwives can deliver babies in hospitals, birthing centers, or in your home.
The differences between the two
A midwife is a licensed healthcare provider with a midwifery degree, specializing in reproductive health and childbirth. Midwives can also give you comprehensive patient care even if you’re not pregnant, but are primarily known for focusing on maintaining the physical health of you and your sweet baby. During your time with a midwife, they will monitor and check in on you but will not be constantly present. During early labor for instance, a midwife won’t physically stay with you until active labor (once the contractions are stronger). Early labor can last from hours to days, but a doula will be able to stay with you throughout the whole process.
Doulas also provide extra ongoing services that a midwife cannot, as midwifery care ends approximately 6 weeks after you give birth (same as a doctor). Because doulas don’t perform medical tasks or give medical advice, it opens their time up to support you with physical and emotional comfort during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum. Doulas go above and beyond, assisting even with daily household tasks, meal prep, and monitoring your little one as you sleep. A doula will also encourage and direct your partner to be more involved and will step in when anyone needs a breather.
Licensing is not required for a doula but they can choose to be trained and certified by organizations that offer doula training programs.
Can I have both?
Absolutely! Having the benefits of both will just enhance your unique birthing experience. A midwife is a great choice if you are seeking a more holistic approach and don’t want just a regular doctor. And combined with a doula, your physical and emotional needs will also be honored, which is essential during such a monumental experience! Learn more about how I will hold you through your birth ceremony as your sacred birth doula by reading my blog post here.
Big Love To You Mama, @taraneynicole