midwife and doulaOur next question is a great follow up to the previous post, and one that we hear often as doulas: Why do I need a doula if I have a midwife?

Lauren Franzen is our guest doula today and she writes:

Many women choose midwives instead of obstetricians because their model of care is quite different. The midwifery model of care focuses on giving individualized attention to patients prenatally, minimizing interventions in labor, and generally monitoring the mother’s physical, psychological, and social well-being (mana.org). That said, even with the best midwifery care, a doula can still provide a deeply valuable role in your pregnancy and birth experience.

Doulas differ from midwives in many ways, but the main difference is that the midwife is a health care provider and a doula is not. While the midwifery model of care means that you will have more intentional, hands-on care, the midwife’s chief concern will always be the health of you and your baby.

A doula’s care is focused more on the psychological, social, emotional, and mental components of birth. Doulas are there to support YOU – to ensure that no matter what path your birth takes medically, you feel well cared for, informed, empowered, and ready to meet your child when they burst on the scene.

By meeting with you prenatally, doulas are able to get to know you in a different way from your midwife and help figure out the nuances of what will make for a good birth experience in terms of comfort measures, touch, partner support, etc. They can supplement your childbirth education and fill in informational gaps as you figure out the best birth plan for you.

Doulas are also there to help you with those “gray areas” in pregnancy – those times when you have a question or concern about something but are not sure whether to call your midwife about it. This can be especially helpful towards the end of pregnancy when different sensations can be confusing to interpret and when you need extra emotional encouragement.

Once labor begins, a doula is there to provide consistent support from the moment you need them through birth. A doula can help you labor at home before going to the hospital and can help you figure out when is a good time to transition to the hospital or to call the midwives.

A doula is a consistent, hands-on presence at your birth. Nurses and midwives may have other clients to attend to, but your doula will be at your side through it all. She will be able to weave all of the prenatal work and birth preparation you’ve done together into the tapestry of your birth experience. By knowing the comfort measures, birth preferences, partner dynamics that have been most important to you, a doula can optimize your coping mechanisms and support you in a very personal and personalized way.

I think many midwives would agree – doulas have a distinctly different role at your birth than a midwife. In fact, these roles compliment one another, making each one’s job easier, and (most importantly) maximizing the level of support you have. A doula can enhance the care you receive from your midwife, supporting you in a consistent, personalized, hands-on way.

Lauren began her work as a doula in Chicago in 2010 and has been deeply grateful for this path ever since. She has supported many different families with an assortment of birth goals and outcomes over the years. She believes every birth truly is beautiful in it’s own way and is honored to be a witness to so much strength and love.

Her favorite part about being a doula is getting to know each client and seeing how their unique birth unfolds. There is always something new to learn, to witness. Nothing is ever exactly the same.