Why Your Hospital Midwife Cannot "Doula"

November 16, 2016

 

By Megan Michelotti, CD(DONA)

 

Recently, an interesting email came into our inbox.

 

The potential client described her journey to inquiring of our birth doula services, which was quite short. It went something like this:

 

"It sounds like my Certified Nurse Midwife (aka CNM) only comes to the hospital when I do, so she highly recommended a doula."

Photo Credit: Brooke Collier Photography

 

Whomever advised her of this truly has this woman's best interest at heart. This midwife is displaying the incredible leadership quality of knowing how to build a good team. This midwife is practicing woman-centered care, in which the holistic support of her patient, including the protection of her memories and emotions throughout her entire labor, is extremely important.. 

 

Above all, this hospital midwife knows her limitations: the hospital walls.

 

There is a lot of birthing a baby that can take place outside a hospital. If you're  seeing a hospital midwife, she will be with you with all her amazing midwife skills and support and patience in the hospital. That being said...

 

...Your hospital midwife will not stop by to see if a swift rebozo trick will move your baby into a more favorable position; a position that might finally move things along after 12 hours of no progress. (You don't need a vaginal check - you know there's been no progress because you don't FEEL any different from 12 hours prior). 

 

 ...Your hospital midwife will not lovingly shoo your dog from your face. When you move into active labor, but are still far from delivering your baby, it's not uncommon to go to what many call Laborland: a place of introversion, extreme focus and heightened senses.. I swear, that's when Fido looks at you and thinks "I have never loved her this much before. I must be VERY CLOSE to her. And look: dad's rubbing her back so I bet she would LOVE a good face-licking from me right now!" And to be honest, sometimes ole Fido's not thinking your face is as interesting as other parts of your birthing body, but anyway...

 

 ...Your hospital midwife will not bring a mixing bowl and a cup of water to you on your toilet. Yes, your toilet. That's where you've set up camp as you move into transition. You're clutching your toothbrush, committed to finishing the act of brushing your teeth as, clearly, it represents the suddenly paramount shred of human dignity that is fresh breath. Your partner? Oh - you've demanded he not move from where he's furiously fanning you with an ESPN magazine.

 

...Your hospital midwife will not glance over your head and give your partner a confident, reassuring look when you make that weird farm-animal sound for the first time, crouched by the dishwasher. And she won't simultaneously box-out your own self-doubt at that sound by saying "There you go! Make whatever noise you need to! You got this." 

 

...Your hospital midwife will not pull your car up to your door, or help you get your shoes on while your partner does so. If she could, she would probably do it in the most beautiful midwifey-way that a car has every been pulled up to a door, or that shoes have ever been helped on. But she can't. She's pulling her own car into the hospital parking lot right now. 

 

 

The list of the things your amazing hospital midwife can do is

way too long for me to even get started here.

 

Her medical expertise, coupled with her mastery of the art of being with women (if she's a good one!) makes her most intricately suited to provide care for women having healthy, normal pregnancies. 

 

The woman who sent that email into our inbox would get the first version of this blog post off the cuff, when I met with her for coffee a couple days later. I'm willing to bet she'll have an amazingly supported birth, where she is leading the journey, and the members of her birth team understand and respect one another to her benefit.


Megan Michelotti, CD(DONA) is a Certified Birth Doula and Placenta Encapsulator in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is honored to rebozo sift a belly, hold a mixing bowl, give a reassuring look, shoo a dog, brush off an animal noise and pull up a car for her laboring clients every single time she finds herself doing it. As the definition of a doula suggests, she is a woman who serves.

 

 

 

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