In a maternity care system where care providers run busy practices, they often have little time to spend one on one with their patients – even though they would like to. However, doulas and midwives have a unique place in this system. Both are often able to build a relationship with their clients from the moment they meet an expecting couple and as they move though the consultation process, the prenatal appointments and the time spent preparing for birth.
During these times, the expecting family shares their life, their plans, their hopes and also their fears. As doulas, we call the combination of those experiences relational support and it is the foundation of what doula support truly means. The midwife model of care also encourages relational support. Relational support creates the good stuff – oxytocin, and every birth needs more of that! Surrounding a birthing women with a supportive birth team impacts the experience in so many positive ways and the more your team feels that love, the more good stuff is brought to the birthing room.
Doulas and Midwives
Often families using a midwife wonder if there is a place for a doula within that dynamic. The answer is YES! The role of doula and midwife complement each other and both doulas and midwives bring their heart and their skills to each and every birth they attend. Their roles are also very different even if they do share a few things in common.
A midwife is incredibly skilled at keeping women and babies low risk and safe during pregnancy, labor and post partum. The midwife will monitor both the laboring woman and her baby using the clinical skills she has been trained to provide. She will use those same skills to help navigate the twists and turns of labor as she provides encouragement at every step of the way. Depending on the labor, a midwife may have time to provide relational and physical labor support, but her primary focus is on guarding the health of the woman and the baby.
A doula is solely focused on providing that relational support – to the family. A doula is not going to touch anyones’s cervix or even the newborn. She may rub your lower back and give you hip squeezes for hours, but she has no responsibility for monitoring baby and making medical assessments. She is going to be a constant presence from early labor in the home, to the transition to the birth center or to the midwife arriving at the house and until the baby has arrived and everyone is snuggled together. A doula is familiar with birth in all its variations and the decisions that may arise in the course of labor thus she can help you consider your options and make suggestions for your comfort. Her presence allows everyone to be who they need to be to support the laboring woman.
The Strongest Birth Team
As a doula, providing relational support is my favorite part of the job. When it is happening, the expecting woman feels supported and cared for even if labor ends up happening in a way that was not planned. Relational support is the reason why research shows that women that have doulas at their birth have a higher level of satisfaction with their birth experience no matter how the birth occurs.
Birthing with midwives or out of hospital does not change the doula’s role, and what doulas bring with them to a birth does not change based on where a woman is choosing to deliver her child. As you consider your birth team, you will want to think of working with both doulas and midwives. They are both often at their strongest when working together…for you!
Great Expectations would love to help you build your oxytocin advantage with one of our doulas. We also love sharing names of the excellent midwives in our town. Contact us to schedule an interview with one of our doulas or to ask for a great recommendation of a Dallas or Fort Worth area midwife.