Do I need a doula at a birth center birth?

by | Mar 5, 2023 | You Ask, Henci Answers

You ask:

I have a birth center birth planned this time around, and I just love my midwife and her assistant! Do you think I still need to hire a doula if I am using a midwife this time?

I answer:

It depends. Labor doulas provide one-on-one continuous physical support to you and emotional and informational support to you, your intimate partner, and to other support people who you may wish to have with you. Here are some ways a doula’s role would (or might) differ from the roles played by your birth center midwife and the midwife’s assistant:

  • A doula will typically come to your home to provide support in early labor, which your midwife and the assistant would not.
  • A doula’s only job is meeting your support needs and those of your intimate partner and any others you have brought with you. While this is an element of midwifery care, your midwife’s primary responsibility is looking after your and your baby’s wellbeing, and the assistant’s primary responsibility is to assist the midwife in that task.
  • A doula would accompany you to the hospital and stay with you should transfer become necessary. That may or may not be the case for the midwife or her assistant.
  • Some labor doulas also offer postpartum doula services, which is something you may wish to consider. These include emotional, informational, and practical support for you and your family. This would not be something the midwife or the assistant would provide, although if you like the idea, you could hire a postpartum doula separately from a labor doula.

If you don’t think you’ll want help at home in early labor, here are the questions I suggest asking to determine whether you want to hire a labor doula:

  • What is your and your assistant’s role vis-à-vis my partner and other support people during the labor?
  • If I should need to transfer to the hospital, would you or your assistant accompany me?

Medical Disclaimer: Henci Goer is neither a physician nor a midwife. Content and information on this website are for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Users are advised to consult their physician or midwife when making decisions about care.

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