Do You Need A Doula As Well As A Midwife?

If you're planning the birth of your first child, you may already be dealing with an OB/GYN doctor and assorted nurses. Some of these nurses may be certified nurse-midwives, who can provide medical care and deliver your child if you prefer a vaginal birth (as opposed to a C-section) and if you prefer to avoid epidurals and other pain medication. But another person you can have with you is a doula, a type of birth assistant. The doula and midwife's duties are generally separate, and whether you choose to work with one or both depends on your comfort level regarding pregnancy and delivery.

Emotional Help

Both midwives and doulas can provide emotional support, but a midwife also has to concentrate on the medical side of the delivery. If you need someone to literally hold your hand as you're giving birth, and if you need someone to help calm any fears before or after the birth, working with a doula is a good idea. The midwife who helps you will be on good terms with you, but he or she will already be doing a lot during the birth itself. The doula can take over the emotional support duties, freeing the midwife to concentrate on other issues happening during the birth.

Preparation and Aftercare

When you work with a midwife, you'll definitely be able to meet with the midwife before the birth, several times if need be. However, the midwife may be working with other expectant mothers as well. A doula tends to work very closely with just you for a long time. The doula can help talk you through fears, help care for you and the baby right after the birth, and help provide education regarding breastfeeding and other post-natal care.

If you're reasonably sure that you're going to be fine, or you have relatives helping out with all of these issues, you might choose not to work with a doula in addition to a midwife. But if you do have concerns, adding a doula to your birth team can be quite helpful.

It's important to note that doulas can't provide actual medical care. They can do things like give you a massage or help you with any pain-control techniques that the midwife wants you to try. If you're nervous about trying to give birth without pain medication, having a doula help coach you can be very comforting.

If you're interested in having a doula work with you and your midwife, ask the midwife like George L Stankevych MD for recommendations. Do this soon as you need time to get to know the doula and vice versa, and to be sure you're comfortable with your choice.