(From an article written by Barbara Davis MMCD, PES, July 2015.)
A few weeks back I was visiting with one of my favorite Ft. Worth midwives and she mentioned that she wished her patients understood why, even though they’ve hired a midwife, they still need a doula.
As a doula, I definitely understand this BUT I can clearly remember a time when I was planning my first out of hospital birth, wondering why exactly I needed a doula. I mean, I was hiring a midwife who was going to be with me the whole time, right? She was going to be able to give me all the emotional support and comfort measures I needed, right?
Actually, no. As much as midwives would love to be able to offer all the support a laboring woman needs, her responsibility, first and foremost, is the health and safety of the mother and baby. They have many clinical tasks- heart tones, blood pressure, temperature, etc. to track, and charting to maintain. These are things that MUST be done and must take precedence over counter pressure, wiping your brow, and reminding you to take a sip of water after each contraction.
Sometimes birth takes a long time. Sometimes, it takes a really long time. It is imperative that midwives take breaks. They simply cannot offer you unwavering support and be fully rested and alert so that when the life of a sweet new baby is, quite literally, in their hands, they are operating at full strength and at the best of their ability. We want them at the top of their game; our lives may depend on it.
You see, a doula doesn’t have such heavy responsibilities. We, fortunately, are there for your emotional, physical and informational support. We don’t have clinical responsibilities. We are the ones that have the ability to focus solely on you and your partner- offering hip squeezes for hours on end, wiping your brow and holding your hand as you navigate your way through your birth.
Doulas and midwives make a wonderful team. We work together and complement one another. Hire great ones and set yourself up to have your best birth!
From a new GBC dad’s perspective: (Their doula also taught their childbirth classes.)
“I could go on about Bethany [the doula] forever! We love her and when we first met her, we didn’t know how important she would be to us. We learned valuable information in her class and it really prepared us on how to handle a birth, what to eat, and what to expect. Our class was actually fun and I really looked forward to going on Tuesdays. It taught us a lot about the science of birth as well as the emotional aspect and fathers being involved. I really wanted to go old school and sit outside smoking cigars and drinking whiskey, but duty calls! Even though I knew I would be there to support Kirstie every step of the way, I was about to coach a game I had never played. The best coaches pick the best players, so we hired Bethany as our Doula.”