The other day, somebody noticed my very favorite tote bag from Doula Trainings International that I carry with me everywhere. She asked me about it and we got to talking about my work as a birth doula. She was interested and curious about what I do, but prefaced the conversation by saying she didn’t feel she needed a doula for her birth because she had chosen midwives as her care providers.
It’s becoming more common for large group practices to offer obstetricians as well as midwives to birthing families. The option of a hospital birth attended by a midwife is appealing. It offers the feeling of security of a hospital, but the seemingly more personalized and natural-minded support that one might expect from a midwife. And I get it. In fact, I’ve worked with some pretty incredible midwives both at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, NH and Exeter Hospital in Exeter, NH. But even when you’ve chosen to birth with a midwife, it’s incredibly beneficial to hire a doula as well. So let’s break it down and debunk the myth that having a midwife negates the need for a doula at your birth.
Reasons to hire doula even if you have a midwife:
1. A doula can fully focus on emotional, verbal, and physical support. Midwives are medically responsible for you and your baby(ies). Even the most caring and compassionate midwife needs to keep your safety at the forefront of her mind and needs to perform medical tasks throughout your labor and birth. While a doula wants you and your baby to be safe, she knows that somebody else is focusing on that and is thus able to fully stay in the moment with you.
2. A doula has only your best interest in mind. As a doula, I’m not bound by the protocols, rules, and regulations of a hospital. Hospital-based midwives have to work within the constraints that their hospitals place on them. For example, if a hospital has a policy that dictates how long a person can labor before being offered something to speed up the process, a midwife will need to make that offer. If your doula knows you don’t want to do that, she can help you ask questions, get information, and then support you to make the decision that’s best for you.
3. During your birth, your doula is only supporting your family. Depending on how busy the hospital is at the time of your birth, your midwife could have multiple people in labor at the same time. Some of the greatest hospital-based midwives actually take the time to sit with families in labor, but often they aren’t able to because they have more than one family to care for. Your doula only has you. She will be with you for the duration of your labor and birth.
4. A doula gets to know you, your family, and your vision for your birth incredibly well before the big day. I visit at least twice with my clients in their homes during their pregnancy. And we often communicate quite a bit towards the end of pregnancy. Many midwifery practices have a handful of midwives and you’ll meet with somebody different at each appointment. When you go into labor, you’ll end up with whoever is on call at the time. Amidst that uncertainty, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your trusted doula will be with you.
5. Your doula continues to support you, even if your birth takes an unexpected turn. If you’re choosing a hospital as your birth location, chances are you want the security provided for the “just in case” scenarios. If you do encounter any complications during your birth, you’ll need the care of an obstetrician. Perhaps you’ll even encounter a doctor you’ve never met before. In a situation that can be unsettling and scary, your doula will remain by your side, helping you navigate your options and supporting you unconditionally.
Midwifery care is amazing and can be beneficial in so many ways. The midwives I’ve met at Dover Women’s Health, Garrison Women’s Health, and Partners for Women’s Health in Exeter are passionate about providing incredible support to the families they work with. And many of them even recognize the benefits of doula support as I’ve been lucky to have them refer their patients to me for doula support. If you’ve heard the myth that you don’t need a doula if you’re working with midwives, I’d encourage you to reconsider and give yourself the best chance at a peaceful and satisfying birth experience.