By Erin Kerr, MA
Hiring a midwife to attend your birth at home is a great first step in securing a compassionate team of professionals to assist you in bringing your baby into the world. Hiring a doula can create additional support in the places you might need or want in addition to having a skilled midwife present. Additionally, sometimes life circumstances such as being a single parent, new to your community, or away from family can make a doula’s presence that much more helpful.
Many homebirth midwives provide medical care as well as incredible emotional support during the labor and delivery process. Midwives are a wonderful choice when their model of care is a good fit for you, however, because their role during birth is more medically-oriented, clinical tasks will take precedence during labor, delivery, and postpartum. Doulas can help round out the support you need to make labor and the postpartum period smoother and more comfortable. Hiring a doula can ensure an even deeper level of support and satisfaction with birth. Some aspects of care that doulas can provide are:
- be on-call for questions or concerns regarding pregnancy, birth, and/or postpartum planning
- respond to emotional needs during pregnancy and postpartum
- arrive early and be of comfort and support through early labor
- ensure you receive all the attention you deserve, such as nourishing foods and drink, gentle massage, suggestions for positions that bring more comfort or a more efficient labor, running a warm bath, remembering all those things you planned to have available for a calmer, more in-control labor such as music, aromatherapy, and mindful early labor activities
- be available to provide anything needed during labor so that your birth partner can remain with you
- remain with you while your birth partner takes care of their needs; a well-supported partner means you get their full attention and can maintain a deep connection
- compliment the kind of support you need or want from your birth partner by being more or less hands-on
- support the midwife when additional hands or eyes are needed to ensure a safe and happy laboring person, baby, and experience
- provide ongoing breastfeeding support and/or postpartum care
- connect you to a wide support system of complimentary care providers and support networks as needed
Doulas generally pride themselves on their flexibility in order to provide the most individual, compassionate, unconditional support for birthing people and families during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Roles vary based on where you are choosing to deliver, your unique family, and individual health circumstances. If you have a specific want or need for additional support, discuss with a doula how they can be helpful in making your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum transition wonderful, powerful experiences.
This download provides a guide for interviewing doulas: Doula Interview Questions
Erin Kerr, MA was a doula at Sacred Earth Doula Care in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of upstate NY, providing unconditional support to families during the childbearing years. She has since moved on to other pursuits. If you are looking for a doula in the Finger Lakes area of New York, check here to find doulas that are currently accepting clients.