One Born Every Minute
Thinking of a Natural Childbirth? 5 Questions and Answers on Midwives and Doulas
I used to think that midwives and doulas were kind of on the fringe of society. Hokey women from alternative birth land who smelled of incense and patchouli. Boy was I wrong! Ok, maybe it is true some of time, but for the most part midwives and doulas are becoming more and more a part of the mainstream birthing process. More women are opting for natural births, especially those in the home with as little medical intervention as possible. This trend is becoming increasingly more common for second-time moms, having tried a traditional birth once and knowing what to expect they are more open to trying something more natural the second time around. Plus, some OB practices now use midwives as part of their prenatal care services.
If you are considering a natural birth, you will undoubtedly want to know more about midwifery and doula practices. As a midwife or doula will tell you, there are many differences between a traditional or medically-managed birth versus a natural childbirth either at home or in the hospital.
What are midwives?
Accredited Midwives CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) can perform a birth in a hospital or home, and can act in the same capacity as an OB/GYN other than perform c- sections. Non accredited midwives are still schooled and apprenticed in the natural birthing process but do not carry the same state credentials. To check out the accreditation standards in your state, MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) (http://mana.org/ )keeps an updated list on state by state regulations on CNM’s and CPM’s (Certified Professional Midwife).
But how can this be better than a medical professional, who has an array of medical and surgical options on hand?
CDC studies show that births performed by Midwives have a 19% lower infant mortality rate and 33% neonatal (before birth) mortality rate. Furthermore, using a midwife can reduce the chances of your baby being born with low birth rate by 31%. That is in part because midwives are trained to naturally prep your body to give birth. Granted, health problems like diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure or any auto- immune diseases could severely complicate things; but your body is naturally equipped with what it needs to perform the miracle of bringing a life into this world. If you are having a complication-free pregnancy, a home birth may be an option for you.
What are Doulas?
Ever wished that you had that on hand person who could answer any pregnancy question you wanted? Give you the skinny on best pre-natal exercises and tricks to make birthing… smoother? Your doula is your handy birthing assistant! These women are indispensable. Like midwives, a majority of doulas are certified as childbirth assistants. They do not perform births but they are often credited for considerably reducing stress related complications during birth by providing:
- physical comfort techniques
- breathing assistance
- labor positions education
- assistance with birth plan development
- pre-natal and post-natal physical and mental support
- childcare during labor
Do doulas assist afterbirth?
Yes! A doula is also the only person who is also trained to take care of you afterbirth (the 4th trimester) and can provide emotional support, help with infant care and assist you any way possible. Their attention is solely on supporting you and your partner to transition seamlessly into parenthood. I can’t stress “you and your partner” enough. Doulas do not replace your spouse in any way; they assist in the birthing experience for both parents. To find a doula near you, contact the Doulas of North America or DONA association. A midwife might also be able to recommend a doula for you.
Where can I get more information?
Some great sites to look at if you’re considering natural birth are:
DONA (Doulas of North America) International http://www.dona.org/mothers/index.php
Midwifery Today http://www.midwiferytoday.com
Midwife and Doula Services http://www.midwifeanddoula.com/booksarticlesvideos.htm
MANA Midwives Alliance of North America http://www.mana.org