So, it finally happened, there’s a pregnancy. Whether it’s your pregnancy, a best friend’s, sister-in-law, or somebody else close to you, they’ve probably turned into a parentzilla to have the perfect pregnancy and perfect pregnancy plan. There’s talk about the nursery, baby names, a baby shower, and maybe a gender reveals if you follow the trends.
However, the delivery is the main event and whoever is doing the birthing is going to want someone other than a partner or a friend by their side. That role is usually taken by a midwife or a doula. Both of them can make a significant difference in the birthing process before, after or during, so here’s what you should know about them.
A midwife is a trained healthcare professional that minimizes the use of nonessential medical technology during the birthing procedure. However, because midwives are trained medical practitioners that go through medical school and certification, they are also able to do a lot of the same things doctors can.
Before the birth: Midwives can perform gynecological exams, ultrasounds, construct a childbirth plan, write prescriptions, and can refer others to an obstetrician if needed.
During the birth: Midwives can deliver babies vaginally at home, hospitals, or birthing centers. They can also give labor-inducing drugs, epidurals, monitor the fetus, perform an episiotomy, resuscitate a baby in an emergency, and help with any other complications.
After the birth: Midwives are able to help with postpartum hemorrhage, stitch vaginal tears if necessary, and any other postnatal medical care for the newborn or mother. They can also help with newborns latching to breastfeed, advice to parents, and information about how to soothe infants with colic.
A doula is a support system for who’s giving birth or parents, by guiding them through the process with information in tandem with emotional and physical comfort. The word doula literally means “woman’s servant” in Greek, so think of doulas as the best friend with certification that you can bother for all of your pregnancy, birthing, and child-rearing needs.
Before the birth: Doulas have the ultimate goal that childbirth is supposed to be positive and empowering, so they focus on the mother’s needs. They also provide information on what to expect during labor or delivery. And teach techniques on dealing with going into labor or birth such as breathing, managing pain, massages, and labor positioning.
During the birth: Doulas aren’t medical professionals like midwives, so they are unable to deliver babies. But the emotional support of quelling any anxiety, backing any of the mother’s medical decisions, comforting the mother through an unplanned C-section, or what have you, a doula will be there for the one giving birth and their partner along the way.
After the birth: Doulas give the same emotional, mental, and physical support after the delivery process. They also do a lot of educating and provide help during this period with the addition of a newborn. Those services include breastfeeding tips, sticking around for the first couple of days of the newborn’s life at home, sleep schedules, soothing the infant, dealing with other siblings and newborns, diaper changes, even possibly helping with household chores or dinner, and more.
Midwives and doulas have their vast differences, but knowing the difference between the two for a potential childbirth plan makes all the difference. The beauty of both of them is that they can also be combined! Having a midwife as a home-call healthcare professional and an overbearing BFF doula to answer all your questions and cater to emotional, physical, and mental needs makes for a superb childbirth experience.