It's International Day of the Midwife, and it's no secret that the Emerald Doulas are BIG fans of our area midwives. In fact, the Triangle region is home to a beautiful, diverse midwifery community; one which serves families birthing at home, or in hospitals and birth centers.
Doulas and midwives work together to support birthing families. In fact, Emerald Doulas have had the honor of working alongside of every hospital and birth center midwifery practice in the Triangle!
But how do doulas and midwives differ in our roles? Should you hire a doula if you are already under the care of a midwife?
We say, "YES! Absolutely."
Midwives are experts in your medical care. Doulas are experts in your emotional care.
Midwives are licensed, medical professionals. That means they have an incredible amount of knowledge about the inner workings of a person's body (birthing or not!), which comes from years of school, advanced degrees, and clinical rotations. They write prescriptions, run tests, analyze your health, and perform physical examinations.
Before birth and during, they are present to ensure the medical safety and well-being of both a birthing person and their baby. They make recommendations because it's in your best interest, medically. Of course, they also make recommendations based on your emotional best interest too, but always their top priority is a healthy birth experience. They're the ones checking for dilation, or baby's position, monitoring your blood pressure or your baby's heartbeat, and answering questions like "Does this rash look normal?" or "Can I take this supplement to jump start labor?".
Doulas are trained, and (often) certified, but are not medical in anyway. Yes, we have a lot of knowledge about birth, the process, and the "typical" (and not-so-typical) paths which labor can take. Doulas listen deeply to what's important to you, hold space and keep you present, grounded and in the moment, remind you of your goals or prompt you to ask for more information before making a decision. We provide comfort for the physical discomforts of labor and birth, and often bring a bag of tools to help ease any soreness or fatigue (using a rebozo for support, a tennis ball for massage, or a rice sock for aching muscles, for example).
Doulas also help you reevaluate your birth plans in the moment, if birth goes off track; allowing you time and space to adjust to the new path, and help you become emotionally ready to walk it. We're also always available in the days and weeks following birth to help you "unpack" your birth story, as you begin to process your feelings and experiences.
So if you're a midwifery patient who's considering hiring a doula, we'd encourage you to say "YES!"! Doulas and midwives may have very different roles, but we work together are part of the same team for you, the birthing family, to ensure your medical, and emotional needs are met as you work to meet your baby!