Doula Myths Part 2

Doula… that’s like a midwife, right?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that one! Let’s just say I probably wouldn’t be a doula. (Just kidding… you can take the girl out of the doula business but you can never take the doula business…) Anyway!

  • Here’s the deal. Becoming a doula doesn’t require “school” in any traditional sense, although many of us do participate in a training and certification process. But we’re all inherently doulas in some way. It’s a natural human instinct to care for others and support them and that doesn’t really require any special training. It just takes a little unlearning and relearning of societal norms.
  • So what’s the big deal? Well, it takes a very special person to have the drive and desire to become a doula. You have to be willing to put on your superhero cape and walk into the fire, so to speak. We have to be willing to cheer you on AND call out injustices if we see them. All with the calm demeanor of a master meditator or a yoga teacher.
  • Midwives, on the contrary, in many states complete years of intensive education before gaining a license. Many people hear the word midwife and instantly think “lay person.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
    • A certified nurse midwife (CNM) does everything an OB-GYN would do, minus the surgical stuff. And furthermore they have excellent outcomes. Read: The case for midwifery (WHO)
    • A certified professional midwife (CPM) specializes in out-of-hospital birth; ask your CPM about their transfer protocol in the event of an emergency and under what circumstances would a patient “risk out” of their home- or birth center-based care.
    • A certified midwife (CM) has licensure equal to that of a CNM, but this license is only used in a handful of states.
    • A traditional midwife has community-based skills and training.
  • Doulas in contrast do not perform any clinical tasks. No cervical exams or listening to a baby’s heart tones in labor. Midwives (and sometimes nurses) take care of all of that monitoring to make sure you and your baby are safe. Did you know that a typical OB-GYN spends less time with their patients in labor than a typical midwife, and only enters the room for the pushing phase in a low-risk birth?
  • Whether you’re working with a midwife or a doctor, your doula supports you and your choices. All of them. We create the opportunity for you to define what good care looks and feels like for you. If you feel your provider is not meeting your needs, we suggest questions you could ask and help you find your own language and narrative around your experience. Because it’s your body after all.
  • A doula shadows your emotional journey and process from pregnancy, to early labor, to active labor and pushing, to postpartum. No other care provider is as equipped to do that as a doula. (See Doula Myths: Part 1)
  • Simply put: a midwife takes care of you from the waist down. A doula takes care of you from the waist up: meaning your heart, your mind, and sometimes helping you and your baby with feeding, sleeping, and the newborn adjustment period. And we make connections for you to other helpers in the community, which happens in that critical timeframe immediately following birth, even before your next scheduled provider check-up!

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