I am a maternal support practitioner (doula) because I feel a call to service in a way that is meaningful and spiritually satisfying. For me, this takes the shape of caring for women’s emotional and psychological needs during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. I recognize the deep impact birth has on each and every mother, and wish to provide support that is focused on the psychological wellbeing of the mother and not clinical tasks.
In Ontario, midwives are covered by OHIP as highly skilled healthcare providers. If you have a midwife, you do not have an Obstetrician, as they fall under the same category. However, no matter who your healthcare provider is, you always have the option to hire a doula.
I love midwives. They are amazing individuals who treat pregnancy as a state of health, and are an expert in their field. Midwives support your informed consent for all tests and procedures, are trained in the clinical tasks of pregnancy, birth and newborn care. If giving birth at home is your dream, a midwife can attend your homebirth. Midwives are extremely kind, caring and compassionate individuals who follow a low tech, non-interventionist model of care. In Ontario, midwives are licenced and regulated through the College of Midwives of Ontario. (http://www.cmo.on.ca/)
A doula’s focus however, is not clinical in nature. Doulas are maternal support practitioners who are trained professionals serving pregnant and laboring individuals through physical, emotional and informational support. What this means is that a support practitioner is present to comfort the mother and partner through the labor experience, whether that be through explanations of what may be happening at any given time, providing physical comfort measures through surges and difficult periods of the labour, providing information about procedures and interventions, or helping the partner be involved in the birth according to their comfort level. While you may receive these things from a midwife, the difference is that the midwife must remain focused on the clinical aspects above all else. This means that the medical aspect is primary importance, while the primary focus of your maternal support practitioner is emotional support. Your midwife may be overseeing more than one laboring family at the same time, and in this case, they must attend to clinical tasks for all laboring individuals, and will not be able to remain in the birthing space with you to support you the entire time. They will support you as time permits, but it is not their primary focus.
As your maternal support practitioner, I work with only one labouring family at a time, and I am dedicated to supporting you at all times throughout labor and birth. You can be assured that while your midwife is focused on you and your baby’s physical health and wellbeing, I will be with you to support you emotionally and psychologically. Your midwife, your partner and I… we’re the perfect team!
I am your cheerleader, your friend, your companion, your confidante. The one who will take care of the running around so your partner can be by your side, the one who will be by your side while your partner grabs a snack or has a rest, I will wipe the sweat from your brow, hold your hand and wipe your tears. I will do 100 million double hip squeezes, rub your back or your feet, feed you ice chips, get you a heating pad, get you a cold compress, put on your socks, take off your socks, help you into the pool, then back out again. I will honor and protect the birth space and every emotion that comes with it. After your birth, I will be with you to celebrate your success or mourn a change in plans. I will do it all judgement free and with compassion. I am doula.
What was your experience with a midwife or doula? I would love to know! Let me know in the comments below!