I’m a talker, a people person, and I’m a little (really a lotta) in love with pregnant women. This combination finds me in many conversations that eventually present the question… “So, what do you?” When I get to the part of my answer that I say, “I’m a doula” I’m usually interrupted with either “Oh, yeah, so like, a midwife?” or “Oh cool, do you plan to become a midwife?”… Um, no… doulas aren’t really like midwives nor do I want to be a midwife but I can understand how one might make that correlation. Today’s childbirth climate is heavy on the “this is the best/easy/normal way to birth so you should do it this way too” side and if you are looking for something different you may find yourself interested in hiring a doula or in the midwifery model of care. Truthfully though, that’s the only connection.
Midwives are pretty awesome.
They are degreed medical professionals whose focus is on the health and wellness of the mother and baby. They understand that the woman’s body was designed to birth and trust that it will do just that with little to no interventions when the time is right. They are fully trained to monitor the safety of mother and baby throughout pregnancy and birth. They can perform prenatal checkups, order lab work, prescribe medicine, monitor safe blood pressure rates of mother and baby and most excitingly, in my opinion at least, help you deliver/birth your baby. If you are looking for a different option than an OB/GYN to providing your medical care, a midwife would be an alternative.
Doulas are different.
The word doula translates to mean woman who serves and are trained to provide informational, emotional, and physical support to pregnant and laboring women. Now, I can’t speak specifically for every doula, but as a doula I begin by building a relationship with pregnant women and their support people to understand who they are and what they want or don’t want from this birth experience. If there is a pregnancy concern or birth topic they are unsure of or undecided about I educate them or help them find the information they need to educate themselves, I encourage them to be confident in their choice, and assure them my support no matter their decision. If desired, I help her develop, communicate, and implement her birth plan and at her birth I am there, continuously, as another set of hands, full of ideas to help her reach for her desired birth experience. I stay for a while to insure babies first feeding goes well and she is all settled to this new role. I follow up a few days later to discuss her experience and see if there are any other questions I can answer or connect her with resources she may need. I am a servant at heart, so being a doula is an honor to me!