Birth is an empowering experience for many women, and having the right support during this process is crucial. Two professionals who provide support during childbirth are doulas and midwives. While both have important roles to play in supporting birth, their roles differ in significant ways. Also, just to know; there are two different types of midwives. Those that work in the hospital and those that work at free standing birth centers or do homebirths.
A doula is a non-medical professional who provides emotional, physical, and informational support to women during childbirth. A doula offers continuous support throughout the labor and birthing. Doulas are trained to help women manage labor and create a feeling of support. They may use techniques like massage, rebozo, breathing exercises, and position changes. They also offer emotional support by providing encouragement and reassurance during peak moments. The doula reminds women and their partners of the flow of birth. A ‘Hypno- doula’ is usually trained in HypnoBirthing or Hypnobabies and can help women utilize relaxation techniques even deeper.
In contrast to a doula’s role, a midwife is a healthcare professional who provides medical care and support to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. Midwives have medical training and are licensed to provide prenatal care, oversee the birthing, and manage postpartum care. They monitor the health of the mother and baby during labor and can provide medical interventions if necessary. The midwife may work with several women at one time if in a hospital or birthing center.
The role of a doula is to provide emotional and physical support, while the role of a midwife is to provide medical care and support. Doulas do not provide medical care, but they can work alongside midwives and other healthcare professionals to support the mother and ensure that her preferences are respected during the birth process. Doulas can also help mothers communicate with their healthcare providers and make informed decisions about their care. Ideally, the doula provides some direction and preparation before birth with childbirth education. Good rapport between the doula and the birthing family is key. A doula can work in a hospital, birth center, or at a mother’s home. The birth doula goes where mom goes. She is constantly committed to the laboring mother’s comfort level and wellness.
Midwives, on the other hand, are responsible for monitoring the health of the mother and baby. For example, they check the fetal heart tones and monitor blood pressure in labor. If in a hospital, they can provide medical interventions such as administering medication. Midwives are also trained to recognize and respond to special circumstances that may arise during childbirth. Doulas and midwives tend to have similar approaches and philosophies around birth. Midwives and doulas often work incredibly well together and can help create a loving atmosphere that helps the mother feel safe. When the mom feels safe, her body tends to do it’s job easier.
In conclusion, while both doulas and midwives provide support during childbirth, their roles differ significantly. Doulas offer emotional and physical support, while midwives provide medical care and support. Both can work together to ensure that the mother has a positive and empowering natural birth experience.