I feel inspired to write this blog because I have had a number of experiences recently where all I see is that doula and midwife are on the same page, and too many people assume that is not the case. Many midwives become midwives for the same reason a doula becomes a doula. To serve women, to help them have an amazing birth experience. Sadly for midwives the system in place can restrict them in working intuitively, but they are still working with the same aim. We are on the same page, most of the time, I mean as much as our roles and the systems allow, the differences are in our training, experiences and personalities but we all want the same outcome and work from our hearts!
Doulas and Midwives were once the same role, the Wise Woman, but became separated with the medical model. Midwives are medically trained and have undergone a three year medical degree, doulas are not medically trained and cannot make a medical decision. Doulas returned again during the 1970’s with the increase of Cesarean sections and increased medical intervention in the USA. Doulas support the mum from a more spiritual, emotional and intuitive perspective.
The reason I am writing this is because I want to say that recently I have had really positive experiences that prove we can bridge the gap between doula and midwife. It is really a gap that doesn’t need to be there. Midwife and Doula alike both want what is best for mum and baby , and want mum and baby to have the best possible outcome and most positive experience for her and her baby. Doulas are not Midwives, we are not medically trained and should never replace what the midwife offers. Doulas are more about supporting from an emotional and spiritual perspective and holding the space. Still being knowledgeable but not making medical decisions. This gap between doula and midwife where midwife can on occasion feel the doula is stopping her doing her job really isnt true from where I am standing. In the best situations Doula and Midwife augment each other well.
I have had really positive experiences, as well as a few not so nice ones, however, two recent ones I would like to mention with clients of mine working with a local Brighton community midwife who works for the trust. We first worked together at a home birth earlier in the year, the mum had been labouring for two nights, still in early labour not quite reaching established when things slowed (as seemed to happen each morning when day light came), this midwife suggested hospital admission but my client was petrified of that option and due to her observations (heart, blood pressure, temperature, baby heart rate) all being well, we tried Spinning Babies which I had training in and this midwife was very open to, she researched the Spinning Babies website using her medical knowledge to decide for herself too if it was ok to do, and together we worked for an hour using Spinning Babies techniques with the Mexican Rebozo. The support, respect, knowledge and confidence this midwife exuded during this entire night was really lovely for our client. It gave our client the confidence to go through another two nights of labour at home (daytime it stopped) feeling empowered and ending with a beautiful powerful home birth.
I met the same midwife at another homebirth in Brighton I was supporting too, again she was totally trusting of mum and baby, and fully confident in her role, it became a beautiful loving supporting environment with all parties working together creating the perfect environment for mum, baby, and dad. It felt like a Red Tent, or Cave experience with all women working in tune and with love for the mama.
I never managed to thank this midwife in person but I have sent her an email via the Trust she works for to thank her for her amazing work.
I hope my small story shows a little that the apparent gap between Midwife and Doula isn’t there but is already bridged, it just depends on how we work together for our clients (as with any job!). We all do the best we can do and all want the most positive outcome, an empowered informed mum having the birth she chooses for her baby.
Sorry if it is a bit soap boxy but I feel quite passionate about creating the best environment for mamas and babies, which i why I am a doula. A huge part of creating the right environment for birth means midwives and doulas working as a team and showing mamas we do work together and can work really well together.
Thank you for reading.