The number one question we get asked when we tell people "I'm a doula" is "What's the difference between a doula and a midwife?" OR "OH! Your'e like a midwife?".
A doula is no more like a midwife than an obstetrician. This is a simplified chart of medical duties. It doesn't begin to cover the beauitful relationships that exist between providers and clients/patients. It's basic because above all else, your midwife is there as your medical provider and a doula is NOT.
We want you to love whoever you choose to deliver your baby, and wherever you choose to give birth. It's our job to smooth the process for everyone involved...YOU, your family and your birth team. <3
MIDWIFE (or OB)
There are 2 different types of midwives
Provides prenatal testing/blood work/pap smear/pelvic exams
In Texas, a CPM can only attend deliveries outside of hospitals(at home or a birthing center)
Typically does not have any medical training but is an expert in a broad range of birthing practices
Conducts regular prenatal visits
In the event that you have to transfer to a hospital, your midwife may not be able to stay with you
Is readily available by phone/email to provide resources for pregnancy/birth/postpartum
Checks blood pressure
or continue to make decisions about your medical care. You’ll need to transfer to an OB or CNM with
Can make referrals to midwives or OB/Gyns depending on your desires
Listens to fetal heart tones
hospital privileges. A doula will transfer with you and does not leave your side, no matter who your provider
Will meet with you 1-2 times in your home birth to discuss desired support measures
Measures fundal height
is, where or how you give birth. A doula is happy to stay in the operating room for a cesarean too.
Learns what your unique emotional, physical, and educational needs are
May provide or refer you to have ultrasounds
In Texas, a CNM can work in or out of hospitals.
Helps you understand how to best communicate with your medical team
Makes medical recommendations
If you are already delivering in a hospital with a CNM,
Help you know what to expect each step of the way
Her level of involvement will vary depending on the number of patients she has at the time
[Not all midwives (or OBs) practice the same or share the same philosophy about birth. Your doula can help you find the provider who is right for you based on your desires for your labor and delivery.]
[Not all doulas practice the same. A doula’s sole purpose should be supporting the client. Her training should have a focus on non-judgemental support and helping the client to achieve her own individual goals and a cohesive (not combative) relationship with the medical team.]
Ideally gets called/you arrive when you are already in active labor
The doula never replaces your midwife or OB or nurse.
Stays in close contact before active labor ever starts
Monitors vital signs with help from a nurse or birth assistant
A doula typically has an intimate relationship with her clients,
Takes pressure off of your partner to know when "It's time."
Performs vaginal exams
She is empathetic, kind and non-judgemental
Helps you know when to go to the hospital/call your medical team based on your unique labor/signs
Makes medical decisions
She respects the intimate nature of birth and your relationship with your partner
and symptoms by observing your body language/breathing
A doula is a professional and a trained expert in birth.
Helps you find positions/natural techniques to manage pain/discomfort
A doula should not push her own philosophy about birth but should support her client’s philosophy.
Supports your decision for pain management whether natural or pharmaceutical
Performs perineal repairs (stitches)
A doula’s focus should be the well being of the client, no matter what twists and turns occur.
Stays with you during all of your labor, helping you navigate every turn as it happens
Handles medical emergencies that may arise
In an emergency, the doula is there to calm anxiety for the parents while the medical team works quickly to ensure safety
Provides 6 week follow up appointment
Provides in home postpartum visit at desired time
to check recovery and discuss birth control options
May offer additional services like breastfeeding support/postpartum doula care/placenta encapsulation
May continue well woman exams as needed
Will continue to be a resource for emotional, physical, and educational needs
Abbey is a birth and postpartum doula and placenta specialist in Dallas/Fort Worth and a mom to 4 children between the ages of 22 and 8.