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Do I need a doula and a midwife?

If you think having a midwife means you don’t need a doula, think again. While doulas and midwives may have similar approaches to labor and delivery, their roles are very different.

Midwives are the guardians of normal, natural childbirth and are responsible for the clinical well-being of you and your baby. Checking Baby’s heart rate, checking your cervix, and catching the baby? Doulas don’t do that. Doulas provide physical, emotional and informational support during labor, but so do midwives. Confused? Don’t be. Doulas and midwives work as a team to give you the support you may need.

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While midwives can certainly help with many things doulas do, like helping you get into comfortable positions for labor and delivery, using comfort measures and encouraging you, they aren’t always able to.

Doulas help midwife-attended hospital births

Hospital labor and delivery units are busy, and even the most hands-on midwife may not be able to provide the labor support she’d like to give you.

Amy Romano, a certified nurse midwife, explains, “While midwives value giving one-to-one attention, they may be caring for more than one woman at once, but doulas are there just for you.”

Doulas can also help facilitate communication between you, your partner and hospital staff if you have questions, concerns or unexpected issues arise during labor and birth.

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Doulas help at home births, too

Home-birth midwife, Kimberly McGuiness-Rook, C.P.M., says, “Being surrounded by a supportive birth team that truly believes in your body’s ability is critical as it can greatly impact the mother’s experience in such a positive way. Oftentimes families using a midwife will assume that there is no place for a doula within that dynamic and, truthfully, as a midwife myself I can personally attest to that being far from the truth. The synergistic blend of having both a doula and a midwife as part of one’s birth team is wonderful and really works well for everyone involved.”

I had a home birth with my youngest baby, and my midwife (whom I adored) questioned why I was having doulas since she would be there. In the end, she understood my choice to have doulas and a midwife. I had a short, very intense labor with a huge baby (over 11 pounds) and 12 years later I can tell you it was my doulas who calmed me when no one else could (not even my husband).

Bottom line? Whether you choose home or hospital birth with a midwife, think about also having a doula. You can never have enough support when it comes to giving birth. Good luck!

Read more

Dads go through labor, too
Choosing between doctors and midwives for your birth
The truth about labor progress

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