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 world but you can never take the doula world… never mind.)

  • Here’s the deal. Becoming a doula doesn’t require “school” in any traditional sense. 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. 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.
    • 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 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.
  • 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 breastfeeding, although that is mostly the work of a lactation consultant!

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