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When I tell people that I am a labor and postpartum doula one of the first things they usually ask me is how what I do is the same or different from what a midwife does.

The short of it is that a midwife is a licensed medical professional and primary care provider, whose foremost goal is a physically healthy baby and parent. Doulas are an incredible addition to the birth team but do not offer primary care, medical advice or perform clinical tasks. As a doula, I specialize in supporting the parent’s emotional and physical comfort. ​

WHY SHOULD WE ADD A DOULA TO OUR BIRTH TEAM?

  • Full spectrum of support: While most midwives do their best to comfort clients and support them emotionally and physically their primary focus is on clinical tasks and the healthy of you and your baby. A doula’s only concern is your emotional and physical comfort. Being attended to by both a doula and a midwife ensures that all of your needs during labor and birth are met, not just your physical health needs.
  • Early labor: Most midwifes do not attend to their clients until they are in active labor. Early labor can be long and challenging. Our doulas will attend to you as soon as you request their presence. We encourage our clients to labor quietly, with their partner in early labor but are happy to come as soon as you feel you need support. We are also available for unlimited phone support throughout your pregnancy and early labor. You can call us any time throughout the life of your contract for suggestions or information.
  • In the event of complications: If complications arise, your midwife will be focused on taking action to keep you and your baby safe. A doula  can explain what is happening to you and your partner and offer information to help you make informed decisions. She will continue to provide physical comfort measures such a cool clothes, touch therapy,  encouragement and more. As an experienced birth attendant, she can help to maintain a calm environment and has the ability to remain neutral if your labor or birth is not going as planned.
  • If your labor is quick: In the event of precipitous labor your midwife will likely be preparing to deliver your baby. Your doula can be by your side encouraging you, offering comfort measures, and reassuring you and your partner that what you are experiencing is a variation of normal. Precipitous births can be intense and an extra set of hands to manage tasks or physically support the laboring person is incredibly helpful.
  • If your labor is long: It is not abnormal for labor to stop and start over several weeks or for labor to take several days to really get going strong. This is called prodromal labor. Your midwife may perform intermittent clinical checks to monitor your progress and see how your  baby is doing. Your doula is available for support and information by phone throughout your pregnancy and early labor (even if it lasts several days). In some situations it may be appropriate for your doula to stop in for a small amount of support to get you and your partner settled in and then return when you feel like you need continuous support.
  • Delivery: Often your midwife with be attending to your lower half at the time of delivery. She may be working to support and protect your perineum and guide your baby out. Your doula continues to offer physical and emotional comfort to you and your partner.
  • Long term support: Your midwife will usually follow up with you over the first six-weeks after your baby is born. At that time you and your baby will be referred back to your family doctor. A postpartum doula can continue to support you and your family throughout the first year of life.
Doulas and midwives have some similarities in philosophy and skills and of course both work with pregnant people. Both doulas and midwives generally view pregnancy and birth as a normal physiological process. Doulas and midwives can both provide care in your home or at a hospital. The wonderful midwives in the Calgary area do their best to offer their clients comfort measures and emotional support but that is not always possible, as clinical tasks are their priority.

If you are looking for someone to deliver your baby, you need a doctor or midwife. If you are seeking a professional to enhance your birth experience, you want a doula.

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