If you are pregnant and starting to make a birth plan, one thing that may have been suggested to you is working with a doula. Also known as birth coaches or birth guides, doulas can be incredibly helpful when you're navigating the twists and turns of labor and delivery. However, there are a few misconceptions about doulas that you deserve to have cleared up before you decide whether to work with one.
Misconception: Doulas and midwives are the same.
Some doulas are also midwives, but the two roles are actually quite different. Midwives focus mainly on the physical aspect of labor and delivery. They are trained medical professionals. Doulas operate on a more emotional level. They help you emotionally and mentally navigate the process of labor and delivery. What they offer is a sort of combination of psychotherapy and coaching. Some people choose to work with both a midwife and a doula. Some opt for an OBGYN and a doula. It's all up to you!
Misconception: You can't work with a doula in the hospital.
Working with a doula is not an alternative to a hospital birth. Of course, if you choose to give birth at home or at a birthing center, a doula can be by your side. However, doulas can also attend hospital births and help coach you through the delivery experience there. Some hospitals do have restrictions as to how many "guests" can be in the room with you as you deliver, so that is something to keep in mind. If you're allowed two guests, the doula would count as one, and your partner as the other. There are, however, some hospitals that exclude doulas from the "count" and would allow you a doula in addition to whatever other guests you invite.
Misconception: Doulas are against modern medicine.
Actually, doulas come with a whole range of different ideas and philosophies regarding birth. If your plan is to have a natural, at-home birth, then you can find a doula who is most familiar with that approach. If you want a medicated birth, there are plenty of doulas who support that, too. As a rule, doulas are not against or separate from modern medicine. Their role is to assist their client, whatever their own position on modern medicine may be.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what it means to work with a doula. Consider this option for your upcoming labor and delivery. For more information, contact a local doula service, like Dignity Doula Services.