How do I differ from a midwife?
I am a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and just after birth. I am not a medical professional, and will not perform medical procedures on a laboring mother or deliver the baby. However, as Mother's Advocate Blog states, a doula "most likely will be one of the most consistent elements of the labor experience. She does not change shifts and only deals with one client at a time."
The midwife will deliver your baby and perform necessary medical examinations throughout your pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum period. Midwives are also available to work with a woman outside of pregnancy, and can perform “well woman” yearly exams throughout a woman’s life.
Are the nurses in the hospital like doulas?
Many of the nurses I've worked with are wonderful and caring people. However, they are not able to provide the continued care that is beneficial to laboring mothers. Labor nurses are usually responsible for multiple patients, charting, communicating updates to doctors, and dispensing medications. Labor nurses are also on shifts, and a mother may not deliver her baby in a time frame that aligns with her preferred medical staff.
Will I replace your partner at the birth?
The short answer is no. My main concern is for the laboring mother when I am at a birth, because she's the boss. However, a baby's father or other mother plays an incredibly important role. A person's partner is emotionally connected to the mother in ways that are intimate and keen. A mother's partner cares deeply for the well being of the mother to such an extent, that seeing one's love partner go through the trial of labor can be unsettling and frankly, scary. I can help to guide a loved one to help the mother in ways that will be relaxing and helpful.
Besides helping an active partner in ways that are soothing to the mother, I can relieve a partner so he or she may rest while not leaving the mother unsupported. And for those partners who want to experience the awesome event that is unfolding in his or her life, I am able to care for the mother in ways their partner may not feel able to do.
Am I useful only in planned, unmedicated births? What about cesarean births?
The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. Many women report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula. However, the primary role of a doula is to help mothers have safe and pleasant experiences, regardless of medical intervention being offered.
For women who have decided to have a medicated birth, I will provide emotional support, informational support and comfort measures through labor and the administration of medications. I work alongside medicated mothers to help them deal with possible side effects and other needs where medication might be inadequate.
For a mother facing a cesarean, I can be helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. I can be attentive to mothers at all times throughout the cesarean. This can free the partner to attend to the baby and provide skin to skin contact if desired, or accompany the newborn to any other location while the mother is finishing her procedure.