DOULAS What's the Difference?
Chances are if
you are pregnant, or planning to be pregnant you have heard the
terms "Midwife" and "Doula" used a lot more
in recent years. So - what's the difference between the two? A
Midwife is a university trained primary health care provider for
a low risk, healthy, pregnant woman. Our community is fortunate
in having two midwives who offer such care. A Doula
is, specifically, a Labour Coach. There are over forty trained
women in Simcoe County who provide this type of service on a
With the number
of family doctors who practice obstetrics declining, it is
comforting for young families to know that there is exceptional
care offered in South Simcoe and its surrounding communities.
Our midwives are based in Alliston and have hospital privileges
at Stevenson Memorial Hospital and at the
South Lake Regional Health Care Centre in Newmarket. The popular myth is that if you have a
midwife as your caregiver, you have to have your baby at home.
Not true. Although a lot of people do opt for home births, there
are also many that would prefer the comfort of knowing that the
interventions that a hospital can offer are close at hand, if
can start as early as your pregnancy is confirmed and last until
six weeks after your baby is born. The good news is that
midwifery care is fully funded by the Ontario Ministry of
Health. An initial visit with your midwife can last up to
seventy-five minutes and each subsequent visit is approximately
forty five minutes long. Prenatal care with midwives is complete
and comprehensive; they look after you throughout your entire
pregnancy. You alternate visits with each of the midwives so
that you can get to know each of them as they get to know you.
It is nice to know that these same women will be attending you
at your birth. Midwives respect each woman's culture and
traditions. They monitor your pregnancy and your general health.
Midwives can order blood tests and ultrasounds. Should problems
arise, midwives often consult with obstetricians and have a good
working relationship with these specialists.
stay with you throughout your labour, birth and up to four hours
after the birth of your baby providing primary care including
monitoring the labour, maternal and fetal wellbeing and managing
the birth. After the baby is born, the midwives will visit you
three to five times during the first two weeks to care for both
mother and baby. After that, visits are done in their office.
During the six week period after the birth, the Midwives are
available for any questions and concerns regarding the general
health of the mother and/or baby. They are supportive in choices
regarding things such as prenatal care, birth plans,
breast/bottle feeding and circumcision and can provide you with
information so that you may make an educated decision on these
refers to a supportive companion (not a friend or loved one)
professionally trained to provide labour support. She performs
no clinical tasks but Doulas offer non-medical skills such as
massage and other non-pharmacological pain relief measures.
Quite often, a Doula will meet her client several weeks or
months before the baby is actually due but on occasion Doulas
are called in to help women in the hospital if the staff feels
that it would be beneficial to the labouring woman. Doulas also
work with midwifery clients, if desired.
Doulas do not
replace partners but instead offer assistance to partners who
want to play an active support role. A Doula provides physical,
emotional, and informational support to women and their partners
during labour and birth and acts as an advocate in a hospital
setting. Doulas can offer help and advice on comfort measures
such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. She can
assist families in gathering information about the course of
their labour and their options. She is there for continuous
emotional reassurance and comfort. After the birth, the Doula is
available as a resource for information and assistance during
the first few weeks of living with your new baby.
If you are
pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, explore your alternatives.
Doulas and Midwives are two options worth investigating. Caring
Hands Midwifery Services can be reached at 705.435.2406 and
Simcoe Birth Services (Doulas) can be reached by calling
705.435.3715 or 905.729.3098.