A couple of common questions among expectant mothers planning for birth are, “Do I really need both a doula and a midwife/OBGYN? What is the difference between the two and won’t they be redundant or worse, get into each other’s way?”
How are they different and what is their role during pregnancy, labor and postpartum?
Midwives’ and OBGYNs’ main focus is to provide medical care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. At the time of birth, the attending provider’s job is to deliver a healthy baby while maintaining your health and employing any necessary interventions. In short this means you’ll see your provider during your regular check-ups in pregnancy (e.g., weight gain, blood pressure), intermittently during your birth at the hospital, after you have progressed far enough to be admitted, and usually once for a postpartum check-up, at the 6 week mark.
A doula is a non-medical labor support person. Their role is not to provide any medical care but support you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Your initial reaction might be that this just feels unnecessary or over the top, maybe for women that are not quite on top of things or don’t have a partner to support them. However, numerous clinical studies have proven that having a birth companion in addition to your medical provider reduces preterm delivery by 10%, reduces c-section rates by 1/3 and increases even babies well-being right after birth – just to name a few advantages for mothers.
The doula’s role is to meet with you during pregnancy to discuss your expectations for delivery and provide you with tools and evidence-based information. When your labor starts, you may decide at any point to ask your doula to join – you don’t have to wait for a certain rhythm of contractions and dilation. Your doula can help you on the phone or in person through techniques to help you breathe and pass time until it’s time to go to the hospital or birthing center. They will be with you the entire time you are giving birth, help assist with comfort measures, guide your partner to provide care and support, and be your thought partner when you want to discuss options. This is important because the more focus and consistency mom has during labor, the faster labor tends to progress. Your birth companion will stay with you for the first couple of hours after the baby is born, helping you with latch if you wish to breastfeed and ensuring you are settled in before leaving. You’ll see your doula usually in your home within the first week as she/he ensures that you are doing ok, discuss any concerns you may have and process your birth experience with you.
Helping the mother realize a pregnancy and birth experience that is as comfortable and as stress-free as possible is a doula’s main goal. Whether you’re hoping for a medicated or all-natural birth, a doula is there to support YOU in your decisions and keep you feeling safe, informed and empowered throughout the entire process. Your doula’s main focus is supporting YOU. Doulas bring knowledge and tools to the table that will ease your mind, and take some of the burden off of your partner’s shoulders, too, while keeping them closely engaged.
What does a doula all do?
As mentioned above, a doula is a NON-medical support person. Your OBGYN or midwife will always remain your medical care provider, even when the three of you are working closely together during labor. Your doula will never speak on your behalf or make decisions for you; instead she is a thought partner with whom you can discuss options to make a decision.
As lined out above, your doulas role during pregnancy is to get to know you, your wishes, provide information or helpful evidence based information. Besides meeting with you twice, she will be available by phone, text or email when you have questions for her. Your doula will never medically assess your baby or you (e.g., she will never take your blood pressure or perform a urine analysis). Her role is to give you support during pregnancy and be at your side when needed.
Your doula’s main act begins when labor starts. Her role is to create a calm and relaxing environment, helping facilitate your wishes, and offering emotional, mental and physical support measures as far as you request them. Doulas can come and see you in person as early in labor as you feel necessary. Otherwise, they will often be available via phone to provide different ideas of comfort measures, to pass the time, and just know that someone is available when you need it. Either way, it’s good to let your doula know when you think labor has started so she can clear her schedule swiftly to be available whenever you need her. In the hospital they will often help you walk, provide counter pressure, or massages to name a few physical support measures.
Your doula will also ensure that your emotions are validated and protect the space to concentrate on your labor. Based on what you have discussed prior to your birth, she will help to facilitate your desired birth outcome, as long as medically viable as indicated by your medical care team. Your partner may also find themselves questioning how they can help you during this time; your doula will work to enhance their experience and make sure your partner feels informed and involved throughout the entire process.
For most women, birth is a life-altering event – definitely one that will affect the rest of your life. In your postpartum check up that usually takes place shortly after discharge, your doula will talk with you about your birth experience and how you felt and feel now. It’s an important step to process this major milestone. Your doula will also listen to any concerns you may have and provide advice, such as breastfeeding or newborn care.
Why would I choose an Alimus doula?
As discussed above, a doula plays a major role in your birth experience. She will be one of your key support persons and subsequently, it is critical that your doula is someone 1) you like, 2) that has experience, and 3) is knowledgeable. With more than 100 certifying doula organizations, finding a program you support is hard, let alone a doula that has the right experience and skill set for your particular pregnancy and birth.
Alimus solves this for moms by offering a network of birth doulas, who all meet a very high standard of training and bring significant experience to the table. Instead of you having to do a tremendous amount of leg work to find doulas with the experience you need, we will match you to the right doulas.You will fill out a short survey around your due date, preferences, and circumstances, and we will identify up to three doulas that would be a great fit. We strongly encourage you to interview your potential doula to ensure a personality match but whoever you end up choosing, will bring tremendous experience, knowledge, and expertise to your birth.
*Disclaimer: Any content provided by Alimus.org is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for personalized medical advice by your doctor, midwife, or other healthcare professional.