When an expecting parent inquires about labor and birth doula services, they often ask something along the lines of, “If I have a midwife, do I even need a doula?” And my answer is a resounding YES. Midwives and doulas work together to help you during your labor and birth.
Midwives Are the Medical Care Professionals
Midwives are trained to help you deliver your baby and they replace an OB/GYN. Midwives do a whole host of things that often include assessing fetal heart tones, taking your blood pressure or pulse, monitoring your progress, and they are trained to recognize when things fall out of the realm of a normal physiological birth and they know if a transfer is necessary. Because they have such an important job of making sure you and baby are healthy and well, often they will not necessarily be available to help support you during an intense contraction. This is because they may be either monitoring you or the baby, charting, and/or they’re getting things ready for delivery.
A Doula's Entire Job is to Support You
Doulas are trained labor and birth support professionals. We can offer physical and emotional support throughout your labor and the birth of your baby. We are there solely for you. Often, once your labor pattern is established, we can anticipate your contractions and will be ready to help you with a hip squeeze, counter pressure or a cool wash cloth on your forehead. We can remind you of your intentions and be a grounding sense of comfort for you. We can suggest a position change if we notice you’re feeling a bit stuck or restless in the current one. We will be ready in-between contractions to encourage you, help you drink or eat something, hand you some lip balm, tie your hair back, or help you to go to the bathroom.
Midwives are wonderful and caring health care providers, and many will offer some support if they are able to, but doulas are there solely to make sure you are supported. These two professions work together as collaborators to help you feel as cared for and as supported as possible while laboring and birthing your child.
So, if you have a midwife, do you need a doula? You might not need one, but we know you won’t regret the decision to surround yourself with additional supportive caregivers for this life-changing experience. After all, the birth of your baby only happens once.