What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?
choose a midwife or a doula, or that there is no value in hiring a doula if you
already have a midwife. The fact is that midwives and doulas have completely
separate roles when it comes to caring for you and supporting you in your birth.
Midwives in Canada are licensed medical professionals. They have the ability to
attend both hospital births and home births. If you choose to have a midwife
you will be under their care only. This
means that your midwife will be responsible for the health of you and your
child prenatally and during your labour and delivery. Often, expecting parents choose to have a
midwife if they crave a more intimate care, as she will work with them closely
to make sure their vision of their birth turns into a reality.
of a Midwife:
labour, and postpartum)
is outside their scope of practice
emotional support and physical assistance.
will usually meet with you during your pregnancy, around your 30 week mark.
your partner and your baby. She will help you envision what
your birth will look like and help you understand the birthing
process. She can also teach you techniques for relaxation and how to get in the
right headspace for a healthy pregnancy. During labor, your doula can use a variety of techniques to help with pain management.Examples include acupressure, hypnobirthing, rebozo, massage, and
different labor positions.
out in areas such as breastfeeding, mother-baby bonding, basic newborn care,
emotional support, and sleeping. She can also help you in your physical recovery
after childbirth. Your postpartum doula is there to help you and your family in
the first few weeks after bringing home your baby.
process so you can be more prepared and confident
process (as much or as little as desired)
are not covered under MSP. However, most doulas believe that every expecting
mother should have the right to have one. The difference a doula makes to
the entire birthing process is so substantial that having doulas
covered under MSP is in the works. It won’t be happening anytime soon, but
hopefully will be approved within the next decade.
are also not usually covered under extended medical. Sun Life insurance, however, has
recently approved the use of doulas as a reimbursable service to clients. You
must be covered through a Health Spending Account with Sun Life and your doula
must be DONA certified. Although the number of insurance companies that cover
doulas under extended medical is slim to none, it’s a good start. We are very
hopeful and are excited to see what positive changes are made in the near
cost of hiring a doula varies, and the cost can even vary a great amount just from city to city. Although many doulas believe in providing a birth free of charge
every once in a while (once or twice per year), it is not the norm. You can
find doulas that are willing to work for as low as $200, and these doulas are often associated with a company that provides doula services for lower income
families. On the other side of the scale, you can find doulas that will charge
around $3,000 for their services. Depending on what you’re looking for and who
you are wanting to hire, the price can fluctuate.
2015 in the Lower Mainland, the average cost of hiring a doula ranges within $650-$1,000.
Considering all of the services a doula provides for her clients and that this is usually her livelihood, this is a realistic and fair rate to pay.
stories I have personally heard from women who have had a doula attend their
births have been very positive. I haven’t met a person yet who has had a
negative experience with a doula!
your entire experience, starting prenatally and ending postpartum. Here’s why people will hire a doula.
doula’s attendance at a hospital birth reduces:
Cesareans by 50
Labor time by 25
by 60 percent
Use of synthetic
oxytocin (Pitocin) by 40 percent
Use of analgesia
by 30 percent
Use of forceps by
of a doula’s support to the mother:
feelings about labor
Decreases need for
acceptance of the baby
cooperation and participation
realize the potential they have in their birthing process: Helping them learn
what birth can actually be like and watching them discover the power and
freedom they now have with this information is the most incredible feeling. I
get to empower them! I get to encourage them and positively influence one of the
biggest days of their lives!
be able to be part of the miracle that birth is and to witness the difference I
made is exhilarating. Knowing that I aided in turning a baby to the right
position so the mama didn’t have to have a c-section, knowing that I helped in
the process of encouraging baby to drop down further in order for the mamas
cervix to dilate more, using counter pressure, massage, and rebozo techniques to
help in managing pain and keep mama focused are all incredibly rewarding things
to see. The greatest feelings for me is when each of my
clients tell me, “I couldn’t have done it without you, Sarah”.
few years ago I found myself glued to Google. I was researching anything and everything
regarding pregnancy, labour, birth, and postpartum care. I was researching for
my own personal desires and finding it exciting, dreaming about how one day I
might become a momma too. I was infatuated with everything birth related! I did so much
research that I found my friends starting to ask me questions, or coming to me
to find out the latest information on this and that. After a full year of
realizing that this was not just something I “liked” but that I was deeply
passionate about, I decided to go for it and book my DONA* doula training
be her doula, and attend the birth of their first baby. I couldn’t believe this
and asked her if I had ever shared with her my desire of becoming
professionally trained. She was pleasantly surprised and explained that I had
never told her my dream of becoming a DONA Doula, but that she was confident of
my ability to be everything her and her husband needed for the birth of their
baby. Both her and I were excited in the uncovering of this gift I
have. It was at that moment that I was confident in my decision to pursue being
a doula, and it was at this birth that confirmed I was born to do this!
have never really witnessed a totally, stereotypical, Hollywood kind of birth.
You know the kind where there’s uncontrollable screaming, yelling, freaking
out…oh and blood and guts! I’m not saying I have never witnessed any of these
things before, but I definitely don’t experience birth as the terrifying and out of
control experience that our society seems to believe it to be. Birth can be an incredibly
know those moments when you just want to burst out laughing, but really you
have to keep it together? That’s me in about 95% of the births I attend.
There’s a moment, usually occurring at the beginning of active labour, when my
client grabs at my shirt or shoulder and just stares at me, looking directly in
my eyes and says “I’m sorry if I yell at you, or get mad at you, or even hit
you. I’m just sorry!” I giggle. The look of uncertainty on their face and not
knowing how they are going to handle themselves obviously brings them to apologize
in advance for anything they might do or say to me at some point during their
labour and delivery. That is when I just smile at them and give a little laugh,
assuring them that I will never be offended or upset with them. I confidently
encourage them that they have full control during their labour and that I will
be there with them every step of the way.
When I share with my client- that
almost every single one of the women I work with says this to me around the same
time, apologizing in advance- they can hardly believe it! Reassuring
them that they aren’t the only one who has ever gone through what they are
experiencing is big… it can change their whole outlook and mind frame of
whether or not they’re going to make it through this massive goal they’re
trying to achieve. In these funny moments I know it can be good to just laugh
out loud, easing the tension they are feeling. In these moments it is when I
realize that all labouring mothers can relate to each other in some way or
I hope this post has helped you understand more about the options you have when it comes to giving birth and how hands- on & dedicated these ladies are to what they do. I encourage you to explore these options for yourself. Whether you opt for a midwife, a doula, or both as part of your support during pregnancy, labour, and postpartum care, know that you and your baby will be in good hands.
A HUGE thank you to Sarah for contributing such an in- depth post!
Friends screenshots: Buzzfeed
Women’s humor image: Women Employed
Sarah headshots by Bethany J. Menzel