Giving birth can – and should – be a woman’s most precious and cherished memory. The support of a midwife or doula can make all the difference.
If you’re having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, you should still consider bringing a midwife and/or a doula into the labour room with you, even if you’re planning a hospital birth.
“Midwives and doulas play a huge role in creating a calm and supportive environment for labouring moms,” says Jude Polack, founder and director of Genesis Clinic in Johannesburg.
“When moms feel relaxed, calm and supported, they labour quicker and easier, and they have less need for drugs and medical interventions. We also find that moms who have positive birth experiences are less likely to get postpartum depression, bond better with their babies and have a higher rate of breastfeeding,” she adds.
What does a midwife do?
A midwife will manage your prenatal care and checks and advise you about all aspects of pregnancy, birth and caring for your newborn. “She’ll help you deliver your baby naturally, whether in a hospital, clinic or at home, with minimal drugs or medical interventions. If need be, she can also refer you to a gynaecologist. She’ll also see to your postnatal care and monitor baby’s progress after the birth,” explains Jude.
Why you might want a midwife
- You want a more personal pregnancy and birth experience.
- You want emotional and practical support both before and after baby is born.
- You want to feel empowered and in control during the birth.
- You want a natural birth experience, where you aren’t rushed and are encouraged to give birth in a way that feels best for you – be that squatting, on all fours, or in water.
- You want minimal medical intervention such as labour augmentation, epidurals, episiotomies and an assisted delivery with forceps.
The role of a doula
A doula is not a medical professional. She can’t make any medical decisions or actually deliver the baby. Her role is to offer emotional support and care for the mom.
Why you might want a doula
- You want emotional support during your pregnancy and throughout the birth.
- You want someone who’ll help both you and dad understand what is happening in pregnancy or labour, especially if complications arise.
- You want to use drug-free pain relief such as massage or relaxation techniques.
- You want someone to ensure your birthing wishes are respected, and to advocate and communicate for you with medical staff if needed during the birth.
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