Midwives and Doulas: Do They Make a Difference During Labor?

Midwives and Doulas: Do They Make a Difference During Labor?

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Midwives and doulas have become increasingly popular over the past decade as the desire for natural birthing increases. Midwives and doulas tend to come with reduced rates of cesarean sections, and mothers typically have a better birthing experience. A different birth experience comes when opting for a midwife and doula.

What is a Midwife?

A midwife is a trained medical professional. Despite the name midwife, a man or a woman can be a midwife, and they play an essential role during the birthing process. If you select to use a certified nurse midwife, you can expect to receive many of the services offered by a doctor. A CNM can perform gynecological exams, provide prenatal care, give pain medication during labor, induce labors, and more.

Before you select a midwife, check the laws of your state. Laws regarding the care that midwives can provide vary by states.

There are different types of midwives, so you need to know the difference to select the type you feel best fits your desires. Here are the different types.

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is a midwife trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery. It is required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, and The American College of Nurse-Midwives certifies CNMs.
  • Certified Midwife (CM) is a trained and certified in midwifery. CMs must have a bachelor’s degree and are certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is an individual trained in midwifery. A CPM must meet standards set by the North American Registry of Midwives.
  • Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM) is an independent individual trained in midwifery. A DEM can receive training through apprenticeships, self-study, a midwifery school or a university program.
  • Lay Midwife is an individual with no certifications or licenses as a midwife. Instead, they receive informal training through apprenticeships and self-study.

Why Might You Want to Use a Midwife?

Midwives come with several benefits that make them an appealing choice for many mothers. Many mothers who opt to use midwives desire a natural childbirth experience. Midwives typically have various payment options as well.

The American College of Nurse-Midwives tells mothers that there are many benefits to receiving midwifery care. Some benefits include:

  • Decreased risk of a cesarean section
  • Reduced rates of labor induction
  • Reduced rates of regional anesthesia
  • Decreased infant mortality
  • Reduced risk of preterm birth
  • Lessens the chance of third and fourth tears
  • Better breastfeeding rates
  • Better quality of care and overall birthing experiences.

What is the Purpose of a Doula?

The purpose of a doula is to support the mother during labor and birth. A doula acts as a companion with training who provides one-on-one care. The mother receives vital information, as well as emotional and physical support. No matter how the mother decides to birth give, a doula provides that vital support that is so essential for an ideal birth.

What Kind of Support Can You Expect from a Doula?

Those who have never used a doula might not know what to expect. Doulas train to give aid to the mother based on the four pillars of labor support. Some things you might expect from a doula include:

  • Physical support through massage, counter pressure, or a rebozo
  • Creating a calm environment
  • Applying warmth or cold compresses throughout labor
  • Helping the mother to and from the bathroom
  • Offering praise and encouragement to mother
  • Keeping company
  • Helping the mother work through her doubts and fears
  • Guiding through labor
  • Suggesting different techniques such as breathing or movement

Can a Doula Make a Difference During Labor?

If you speak to mothers who opted to have a doula during labor, most will tell you that a doula changes your birthing experience for the better. It is well-known that mothers do better in labor when they receive continuous support. These women are less likely to opt for pain medications such as epidurals, have reduced rates of cesarean sections, and are more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth.

Do I Need Both a Midwife and a Doula?

Doulas and midwives go hand in hand. Just because you have a midwife doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from having a doula. Doulas and midwives have similar, natural approaches to birthing. However, they provide different roles for the mother.

Midwives are responsible for the childbirth and welfare of the mother and the baby. During your labor, your midwife will check your child’s heart rate, check your cervix, and help deliver the baby. A doula won’t provide any of those services.

During labor, your doula will provide support to you. She will massage your back and squeeze your hips during contractions. She will ensure you have sips of cold water or ice chips. She might apply compresses, as well as showing your partner how to aid you in labor. A midwife won’t provide these services.

Home vs. Hospital Births

One thing to consider is where you want to deliver your baby. Not all midwives attend home births. It will depend on the route of care they have chosen, as well as the laws of the state you reside. Doulas, on the other hand, attend both home and hospital births.

If you are concerned about the quality of care at a hospital birth, a doula can ensure you have the labor that you desire. All of the support they offer applies to any birth.

The Difference in Labor When Using Midwives and Doulas

If you are wondering if your birthing experience might be different by choosing a midwife and doula, the overall answer is yes! If you desire natural childbirth, it is the route that you should pick. Both come with the decreased risk of needing a cesarean section and pain medication. You are less likely to have tears, and more likely to have an overall positive experience with a doula and midwife.

Don’t feel as if you need to pick. Together, a midwife and doula make the ultimate birthing experience. Have you birthed with such a team? Less us know your experience!

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