Do I Need a Doula if I've Hired a Midwife?
A few weeks back I was visiting with one of my favorite Fort Worth midwives and she mentioned that she wished her patients understood why, even though they've hired a midwife, they still need a doula.
As a doula, I definitely understand this BUT I can clearly remember at time when I was planning my first out of hospital birth, wondering why exactly I needed a doula. I mean, I was hiring a midwife who was going to be with me the whole time, right? She was going to be able to give me all the emotional support and comfort measures I needed, right?
Actually, no. As much as midwives would love to be able to offer all the support a laboring woman needs, her responsibility, first and foremost, is the health and safety of the mother and baby. They have many clinical tasks- heart tones, blood pressure, temperature, etc.- to track and charting to maintain. These are things that MUST be done and must take precedence over counter pressure, wiping your brow, and reminding you to take a sip of water after each contraction.
Sometimes birth takes a long time. Sometimes, it takes a really long time. It is imperative that midwives take breaks. They simply cannot offer you unwavering support and be fully rested and alert so that when the life of a sweet new baby is, quite literally, in their hands, they are operating at full strength and at the best of their ability. We want them at the top of their game; our lives may depend on it.
You see, a doula doesn't have such heavy responsibilities. We, fortunately, are there for emotional stuff, the physical support of what we know as birth. We don't have clinical responsibilities. We are the ones that have the ability to focus solely on you and your partner- offering hip squeezes for hours on end, wiping your brow and holding your hand as you navigate your way through your labor.