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What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
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What is a doula?
A doula is a woman who serves, acts as a guide, provides nurturing support, and helps you create trust in your own ability to birth your child. She is there to help the family bond, to help the mother feel empowered and capable. Extensive studies have shown the presence of a doula at the birth can reduce the length of labor, the number of interventions, and cesarean section rate.
Historically, women have assisted women in the process of learning throughout the childbearing years and most especially during labor and delivery. This has changed with industrialization. Now the support systems of more experienced women assisting with labor has fallen onto the couple alone. This creates unrealistic expectations for both partners. They are, currently, expected to labor alone without guidance. While it can be done, it’s better to be mentored and coached.
The process of labor and delivery creates a vulnerable time in a couples relationship and the growth of the family. The support of a Doula can ease the transition with both emotional and physical comfort measures. The pressure is taken off the couple to ‘remember everything’ and they can focus on each other because the Doula is there to answer questions and create the confidence in the abilities of the woman to birth her child and in the partner to offer support. All members of the family are served by the Doula.
Marshal Klaus has done medical research on the effectiveness of Doulas in the reduction of technical interventions during the birth process. His work has shown that Doulas increase the probability of having a natural birth.
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What services a doula can provide?
During pregnancy, a doula is available to answer general questions and discuss your concerns. She can provide nurturing, practical childbirth information, help you prepare a birth plan to clarify your desires about birth and hospital newborn care. She will meet with you several times prior to birth so that together you can build a bond of familiarity and clarity about how you wish to be supported during your labor. For the mother in pre-term labor, her services include assisting with the basic day-to-day needs of the household.
During birth, the doula will suggest practical ways to cope with the challenges of labor and delivery that can help the mother and couple feel more relaxed and competent during labor. She will provide continuous uninterrupted support throughout labor and delivery. She will be available to talk with you at length about your birth experience and provide emotional and practical support as you adjust to your new role as parent.
After birth, the doula may provide assistance designed to help the new family bond. She provides assistance to the new family, acts as a source of information and reassurance in the days and weeks following birth. The doula takes care of the routine household tasks, freeing the parents to enjoy their baby as the make the transition from pregnancy to family.
A doula is not a midwife. A midwife is a medical professional who is trained to physically assist in the birth of a child. A midwife can diagnose and prescribe for complications in pregnancy and delivery. She is able to provide medical assistance, take vital signs, and evaluate the need for technical intervention.
A doula supports the woman and family emotionally, physically, and spiritually. She cannot diagnose or prescribe, but she provides information and creates confidence. She helps in the understanding of the information given by a midwife or doctor. A doula’s support is directed to the emotional and spiritual aspects of labor. The physical signs of labor are important in indicating the progress being made toward the moment of birth. She is there to guide a woman through the experience of birth and nurture the bond of family that is created at this child’s arrival.
Birth is an experience that can transform you. Having the experience you want is dependent upon education and having the support structure to assist you.
supporting families in the birth and bonding experience.
for a birth that meets both the needs of the mother and infant.
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