Is a doula the same thing as a midwife?
Often times when I talk with others about being a doula, I sense a bit of confusion. I’ve also had friends comment things like, “I can’t wait for you to deliver my baby someday!" That’s when I kindly explain to them the difference between a doula and a midwife.
"Doulas do not replace nurses or medical staff such as midwives or doctors. Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as assessing blood pressure or temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing vaginal examinations or providing postpartum clinical care. Doulas are present to comfort and support the mother, and to enhance communication between the mother and medical professionals. Doulas can be a tremendous source of emotional support, encouragement and wisdom throughout labor and birth. During labor, your doula can use different techniques such as massage and different labor positions to help you through delivery. During the postpartum period, your doula can help with caring for an infant, breastfeeding, and healing after childbirth.”- Del Mar Birth Center
How is a doula different from having the help of my partner, mother, sister or best friend?
A doula is hired to offer you nonjudgmental, informed information and support. As a doula, I am a trained professional in how to support women in labor. I draw on my education, training and lived experience to best support a client. A friend may only have experience from her unmediated water birth, or your aunt who gave birth 40 years a go may not be up to date with current practices. A doula knows about all types of birth and labor outcomes and how to support you and advocate in an unbiased, informed fashion. While I have serious care for you as my client, as your doula I must first be pragmatic before emotional. Your mother, sister or best friend are an important part of your birth team and a doula can never replace the support you receive from them. Your doula will work with your loved ones to help better support you. On top of that, your doula is there to support not only you, but your partner/friends/family members as well. Check out this this image on how doulas and partners work together.
When should I hire a doula?
I'd recommend hiring a doula once you've shared with friends and family that you are expecting. This allows ample time to get to know one another, create a birth plan, have prenatal appointments and prepare for labor. A doula can be a tremendous help in early pregnancy to help you navigate through what to buy/skip, classes to attend, etc. It’s never too early or too late to hire, but it’s important if you want a doula to secure one sooner than later due to the fact they may already be booked by the time you’d like to hire. Just because you hire, doesn't mean you have to hit the ground running within that first week. The price will be the same whether you hire at 13 weeks, or 31 weeks!
What comfort measures will you utilize with me?
I'm not sure! We'll see once you're actually in labor. I only reach for comfort measures IF it seems like my client needs them. That being said, if my client's mindset is in a bad space, my lavender oil can only go so far. We will work together prenatally to make sure your mind is in a calm, ready, peaceful state when you go into labor. That way, if you need assistance, your body and mind will be able to accept it.
How many births have you been to?
When I started out as a brand new doula, I was insecure about this question. I couldn't wait until I was able to answer this question and say "20, 30, x y z whatever the golden number is." Until I realized, there is no golden number. I've been a full time doula since July 2019 and have 2-3 birth clients a month. The number of births I've attended doesn't really matter to me. I don't keep a tally in my head. Your birth is just that- YOURS. I am not going to compare your birth to another clients, and so on. When I enter your birth space, while I am utilizing what I've learned throughout the years, I am also approaching it as it's own unique, individual moment. What worked at the birth last week may not work in this space. If you meet a doula who has been to over 100 births, but has a personality you don't click with- it's not going to work. I advise everyone seeking doula support to remember that this is a interpersonal relationship, and while experience matters, what matters most is how that person makes you feel and how that will translate into your birth space.
So...can I still have a doula even if I don't want an unmedicated birth?
YES! While the majority of my clients want a unmedicated, low intervention birth, I do still support clients who envision their experience to include some medication. The epidural isn't the enemy, it's an amazing tool. However, it's important to know that when you say yes to one thing, what else you're saying yes too. Google "cascade of interventions" Regardless of how you plan to manage labor surges, I'm there with you during your pregnancy to educate you, inform you of your choices, advocate, and keep you comfortable. You don't get the epidural the minute you show up to a hospital, and guess what...sometimes they don't work! GAH! Understanding how to manage labor before an epidural is super important. The actual birth support piece of my services is just that, one piece. We cover so much more than the actual birth when we work together. What will recovery be like? What can you expect postpartum? How will we manage labor at home? What about breastfeeding? Can I birth in different positions than on my back? I'll have you covered for any and all questions!
Have you worked at my hospital? Have you worked with my doctor/midwife?
It is highly likely that I have!