The natural birth world can be a place of wonder and excitement. It can also be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the words that are thrown around.
Two popular terms are “doula” and “midwife”. It’s easy to be unsure of the role they each play in a natural birth, but you’ll hear them a lot in conversation.
Here are some basic descriptions of both roles and why they are important to your birth experience.
A doula literally means “female servant”. When it comes to birth, a doula is sometimes also called a labor assistant or a labor coach. Doula certifications and skills vary. Some doulas are certified through a professional doula organization while some simply have experience and enjoy serving mothers and their families.
Many women (and their partners!) hire a doula for support and help throughout the labor. A doula should be skilled in numerous comfort measures and techniques, and can lend a helping hand and some occasional rest for a tired dad.
Home birthing couples can benefit from the services offered by a doula because she often does some prenatal visits that can help educate mom, may arrive earlier at the birth than the midwife if summoned, and do one or two postpartum visits. All of these visits and the relationship that they encourage can help the new family adjust to life with a newborn.
While many couples plan on having the father or partner take a main role during the labor, a doula can help dad to help mom. Her greater experience with birth can help remind dad of things he may have forgotten. Her knowledge of what is common may help her realize when mom needs to call the midwife. And having an extra pair of hands is ALWAYS useful in labor.
In short, a doula provides emotional and physical support for labor but is not a medical professional. She can be a comforting pair of hands but will not offer medical advice or procedures.
If you are interested in hiring a doula, let us know and we can give you a list of some of our favorite local doulas.
A midwife, on the other hand, is a professional with skills for comforting and guiding your journey and also with medical skills that are occasionally needed at the time of birth. The term midwife just means, “with woman” and she will be with you during your pregnancy at prenatal appointments, during your birth, and at postpartum appointments after your baby is born.
While she can offer education, guidance, wisdom, comfort and a listening ear, your midwife is also trained in CPR, neonatal resuscitation, starting an IV, administering certain drugs, suturing, and the warning signs of things that can happen in labor. She is both a medical professional and a companion for your labor.
At Edenway Birth Center our midwives are Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) and Licensed Midwives (LM) through the state of Texas. They have extensive training and are continuously working on their skills.
Many woman desire both a midwife and a doula and we happily encourage this. Pregnancy, labor, and birth are all sacred and sensitive times for a woman and her family. Choosing a strong support team will make it that much more special.
If you are interested in the midwifery model of care we encourage you to contact us at -817-552-2229. We are happy to meet with the whole family so that all involved can ask questions and feel more at ease.