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Understanding Your Birth Support Options: Comparing the Roles of Birth Coaches, Midwives, & Doulas

Birth workers! We are so thankful for so many who dedicate their lives to supporting mothers during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum periods.


While each birth worker is truly called to the work, what each does is very different. Let's break it down so you can make sure that you have your birth team squared away. We'll look at what is a birth coach, a homebirth midwife, and a doula.



 

Birth Coach

A birth coach (as you'll find here at Loreto Wellness) is the best of both worlds: a cross between a doula and a midwife. I've attended an NBHWC-approved institution and am a health coach and I've gone through midwifery and trauma-informed care training. While I don't meet with you in person, I offer you comprehensive support throughout your entire pregnancy, typically meeting with you for 6-8 hours before your baby is born.


During our time together, we will make sure that all of your questions are answered, that you are making choices from a truly-informed place, and ensuring that you feel supported throughout your entire pregnancy and feel prepared for postpartum.


You'll find out what you want to do, not what everyone is telling you to do.

I'll bring in my coaching skills to look through your web of support, your barriers to change, your limiting beliefs, and to help you find out what you want to do, not what everyone is telling you to do.


I'll bring in my birth knowledge so we can go through what the studies say, what the numbers really mean. and make sure you get your questions answered so that you can go into your birth feeling informed, understood, and at peace.


I will never "empower you" - that is not my responsibilty. If someone tells you that they will empower you, it's a lie. Empowerment comes from within and is reliant on your trust in God and his unfailing love. My responsibility is to encourage you to empower yourself and to walk with you on your journey.


My goal is to answer your questions about your pregnancy and birth. I'll ensure you can make informed decisions that will help lead you closer to achieving your pregnancy and birth goals. I'll help you feel less overwhelmed with all of the information being thrown at you, to base your decisions on your values, to discern what God is asking of you, and t0 help you feel supported throughout your entire pregnancy.


If we work together after your birth, I want to help you health and thrive in your call to motherhood. It's okay to be so thankful that your baby is well, but still disappointed with how your birth went. Processing your birth is vital to who you are as a mother and woman. It helps us find God in the hard parts, to know what really is important to you, and to prepare as you move into your motherhood.


It doesn't matter if this is your first pregnancy or your tenth - you can always learn more information, tips, and tools to help you walk through such a transformative time in your life.

Let's work together to really dig into what you want so you can feel confident in your next steps.



 

Midwife

A midwife is someone who has gone through training to help medically support a woman during their birth. I'm talking about home-birth midwifes in this post, but there are nurse-midwives who work within the medical system (hospitals).


In the US, most midwives who attend homebirths will have their Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) title. This isn't necessarily required and some states do allow (eye roll...) those without training/certifications to call themselves midwives and function in a medical capacity (this is called direct entry).


Some states are incredibly strict on midwifery regulations and need additional licensure to allow midwives to function in that capacity. They are regulated in what care they can give mothers and if they do not follow the laws, they can be fined or put into jail. Some states operate with midwifery being alegal, meaning there are no laws around what a midwife can or cannot do.


Midwives are trained in normal, physiologic birth. They attend prenatal appointments, your birth, and offer postpartum care for the few weeks after your birth. Many do not function as support persons as they are typically charting, measuring, and monitoring you/the baby. You should not expect your midwife to be your sole support person. They are highly skilled in neonatal resuscitation, birth-related maneuvers, and generally have a very mother-led mindset.


 

Doula

A doula does not operate in a medical capacity and is an in-person support person throughout pregnancy, birth, and sometimes postpartum. They will typically have gone through some educational program/certification, but there are no states that regulate doulas.


A doula will typically meet with you once or twice before your birth to offer you suggestions and to chat about your birth/plan. They will attend your birth, either in a hospital or home setting (doula-dependent) and will support you in a non-medical capacity. They'll offer tips for achieving additional comfort, remind you to breathe, eat, sleep, and drink, and help work with your care practitioners to ensure that your have the birth you've been preparing for.


Need to find an in-person doula or midwife? Check out Made For This Birth's directory.


 


Have questions on any of these birth workers?


Let's chat to make sure that you feel ready to birth your baby and feel confident as you move into your postpartum time.



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