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1. What is the difference between a doula and a midwife? The biggest difference between a midwife and a doula is their scope of practice. Your midwife is your primary health care provider and legally responsible for your care. You will see her in the same way you would see an OBGYN throughout your pregnancy. Her care is typically focused on the health and well-being of the pregnant woman and her baby. A doula is a continuous care provider who offers professional labor support. Doulas do not provide medical treatment; however, most are knowledgeable in many medical and clinical aspects of labor and delivery so they can help their clients gain a better understanding of the procedures, possible complications and what to expect during and after the delivery.
2. If I am having a homebirth, do I need a doula also? Midwives are responsible for managing the prenatal care, the delivery, the immediate post-partum period and the post-partum period of mom and baby. Doulas have skills that are unique to the labor period. Many moms find it invaluable to have a doula arrive early on to help them with position changes, relaxation, comfort measures and to provide reassurance that everything is progressing normally. The midwife usually arrives closer to delivery and is focused on monitoring mom and baby, evaluating progress, getting birth supplies, medication and equipment ready and assessing for any risk factors. The 2 roles have different specialized skill sets and work very well together.
3. If I am having a homebirth, do I still need to take a childbirth class? YES! I strongly recommend everyone take a comprehensive, out-of-hospital childbirth class, especially if this is your first baby or your fist homebirth. These classes will help the new couple learn about the various stages of labor, what to expect, how to manage pain and relaxation differently per each stage, learn how to weigh out the benefits and risks for various interventions, how to stay low risk with proper exercise and nutrition, how to breastfeed, how to take care of your newborn, what to expect in the post-partum period and so much more! Many first-time moms do not know what to expect with the various sensations that occur weeks to days before labor begins and without the preparation of a class, can become anxious, fearful, discouraged and exhausted. A comprehensive class can decrease your chances of having to transfer to a hospital setting for therapeutic sleep and/or pain management by reducing your risk of falling into these common first-time pitfalls. There are several great classes in the area. We recommend Roots Childbirth classes.
4. Is homebirth safe? A 2014 study that examined almost 17,000 midwife-managed births confirms that for low-risk women, home births result in lower rates of interventions without an increase in adverse outcomes for babies or mothers. The results of the study confirm the safety and positive health benefits for low-risk pregnancies. The study also reports that midwives provided excellent care at every step of the prenatal, birthing process and post-partum period. Cesarean rate is only 5% for midwife-managed homebirths in comparison to 33% for the national average in the United States. For more information please read the entire ARTICLE here.
5. What can a homebirth midwife do and not do? Although this varies from state to state, in TN, Licensed Certified Professional Midwives are trained and equipped to provide well-woman care across the lifespan including the child bearing years. We offer well-woman care (yearly physicals, labs and pap smears), prenatal management and delivery services, post-partum care including contraceptive counseling as well as care during the peri and post menopausal stage. Certified Professional Midwives practice with complete autonomy but we do utilize the collaborative care model to offer our clients the most holistic approach possible. We do not prescribe pharmaceutical medications but we are highly educated in non-allopathic options and will refer to a prescribing practitioner if necessary. We also do not artificially induce labor or perform assisted or surgical deliveries. If these interventions are indicated then we will transfer to a more appropriate setting and provider. We can perform episiotomies if necessary as well as suture perineal compromises. We carry oxygen, emergency medications, antibiotics, NRP resuscitation equipment and IV fluids to all the births we attend. For more information on fees and services provided please visit the “Homebirth” page on this site.