Thoughts From a Midwife: Why I Want My Clients to Hire Doulas

Annapolis Area Doulas proudly collaborates with outstanding birth care providers in our area. We forge strong relationships with them so that you, the parents, can enjoy the best possible experience with your support team. Keep reading to learn what one of our awesome local midwives thinks about hiring both a midwife and a doula.

Congratulations on your pregnancy! It’s such an exciting, scary, thrilling and glorious time in your life! So many decisions, so much to learn. Hard to believe it all happens in less than a year! As your midwife, I am responsible for your health, as well as the health of your baby. My goal is to get both of you through pregnancy and birth with the best experience possible.

Midwives enjoy getting to know you, making a connection, offering support and information, as well as providing direct care to you during your pregnancy, labor and birth. In addition to the care your midwives provide, consider the advantages of hiring a doula as the extra insurance that you will have the support you and your partner deserve on that important day.

Doulas are like a sherpa as you climb Mt Everest. She knows the terrain, she’s helped lots of mothers walk this path before. Doulas know where the hardest parts present themselves, and they can judge if you are coping well with the journey or need more support. Having traveled that journey many times, she can often recognize the signs along the way that tell her how much farther you have to go. Doulas support mothers, AND are available to support the partner.. Sometimes a doula’s value is felt by the partner even more than the birthing mama.

Midwives enjoy providing emotional and physical support, we really do. However, sometimes our responsibilities involve a few clients in labor, maybe someone in triage, answering phone calls, coordinating care. I cannot guarantee anyone that I can be available the entire time they are in labor. And honestly, who wants to travel to the birth center or hospital until they really need to go there? Doulas often labor with a woman at her home, which allows the mother and her support people to stay at home longer, out of the hospital, with more comfort and confidence. Avoiding arrival at the hospital or birth center too early is a invaluable benefit. If that isn’t enough to convince you to consider hiring a doula, let the numbers speak for themselves. Research tells us that mothers that have doula care have lower risk of cesarean, lower rates of pain medicine and epidurals, higher breastfeeding rates, higher satisfaction of birth experiences, higher rates of vaginal birth after cesarean.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I lived in a city that had virtually no doulas. So I brought the doula to me. I paid to have my doula friend travel from North Carolina to Ohio so that she could be with me during labor. That’s how much I wanted a doula at my home birth. In the end, due to the circumstances of my birth, she was the only person with me for almost my entire labor. My partner was at work, my midwife was driving in an ice storm and my best friend was teaching. They all made it there, only for the last 10-20 minutes ( the midwife arrived five minutes before the baby was born).

My doula kept me calm, called my team, comforted my four year old, and all the while knowing that my labor was moving along faster than I could process. I had no idea how fast I was progressing, but she did because she had seen women labor hundreds of times. She knew more than I did about where I was in labor. Disoriented, at one point, I thought I was in early labor, but really I was in transition, just minutes from starting to push. If I had been alone with a four year old, experiencing a precipitous labor, it really would not have turned out as well as it did. I credit her for that. We are still friends, thirteen years later, and she sends a birthday card to my daughter every year.

What About the Cost? No, doula care is not free. No, most insurances don’t cover it yet. Yes, it can seem expensive. It’s truly one of the “you get what you pay for” expenses in life. I have often had clients inquire into doula support and hesitate at the cost. From my perspective, hiring a doula is proactive planning and investing in your birth experience. Any great experience in life takes planning and investment of time, money, and energy. Just like planning a wedding, a world-class vacation, a marathon, or a climb to Mt Everest you would consider investing in a wedding planner, travel agent, trainer or sherpa. Doulas are just like those other people you might hire. You still have to do the work, but it sure does help to have someone who knows the path ahead. And let’s be honest, you are paying for 24/7 support.

Birth workers lose sleep, miss birthdays, shorten vacations and skip meals. That means doulas need to make enough money to support their families and not need a second job so that they can be available to you at any time, day or night. Doulas and midwives may seem magic, but we are not. No one can guarantee a “perfect birth”, but what we can provide is support, care, education and comfort. Because even if your birth turns out differently than what you had planned, your birth team is there to get you through it. A great way to see if a doula is right for you, is to take childbirth classes from a doula ( remember the time and energy investment?).

Birth classes are essential for the first time moms and those that want natural childbirth. Classes and doulas are also very helpful even if you know you want an epidural. Because how are you going to cope in labor before its time for the epidural? Taking classes gives you the opportunity to get to know the doulas and see if you make the connection. You will also learn the essential information to make informed decisions, comfort measures, coping tools and the amazing things your body will do in pregnancy and birth. Childbirth classes also build your community of new parents, because if it’s one thing you need postpartum, is other parents who understand! You will meet some lifelong friends in the years of having young children. That starts in birth class !!

A doula will enhance your midwifery experience, and overall experience with pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum recovery. Annapolis Area Doulas are dedicated, fierce, strong, knowledgeable, compassionate women. When I hear that my client has hired an Annapolis Area Doula, I always smile. I know that she will be supported, with me, or without me. I don’t worry about my patients when I can’t be in the room continuously, because I know they are in good hands. Annapolis Area Doulas are team players, focused on the woman, her partner and their baby. After over four years of working with them, I wholeheartedly recommend these phenomenal women. Annapolis Area Doula’s make clients lives better, and my job easier, everyday.”

Marie Meakin CNM, MSN Bay Area Midwifery Center