midwife, birth doula, lactation consultant, monitrice...oh my!
If you've been in birth groups on social media for any length of time, you have probably heard at least a few of these words and wonder why there are so many different names for the same thing. Well, that would be because they are not the same! Each type of birth worker has a different role, and I'm going to take a few minutes to tell you about each of them and why they are essential in helping you have a great birth experience.
Let's start at the beginning of your pregnancy journey and work our way through the different birth workers you will encounter.
Usually, the first person you will call when you get a BFP, so you can make sure you get your favorite before she is booked. There are a few different types of midwives, but you will most often hear about the two main types: Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM).
CNMs are birth workers who have taken the path to become a Registered Nurse (RN) in whatever specialty they chose, usually Labor & Delivery, but then decide they want to focus specifically on the childbearing years' as well as well-woman care. A CNM will have gone on to get their Masters or Doctorate in midwifery. CNMs are certified by their governing body, known as American College of Midwives, and are licensed by their
CPMs are birth workers who usually are not RNs. A CPM has specialized training specifically in the childbearing years, including normal newborn care and postpartum care for the mother. CPMs are certified by their governing body, known as The North American Registry of Midwives, and depending on the state they work in, the state may license them. In Texas, where I live, we are licensed by the state and have rules and regulations in place to help protect and provide safe care to all in our care.
A midwife is on call 24/7 for her clients from the moment they sign up for care. We walk with families through the whole journey of pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. Your midwife is your clinical connection in pregnancy to make sure that you are healthy and
A midwife is on call 24/7 for her clients from the moment they sign up for care. We walk with families through the whole journey of pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. Your midwife is your clinical connection in pregnancy to make sure that you are healthy and safe.
A doula is a professionally trained woman at providing emotional, physical, and informational support during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. While midwives can and will do the same when it comes to providing you full-on support, a doula is your best choice. Midwives have to put on their clinical hat when needed to make sure you and your baby are safe. One of the most important times is when you are so close to birthing your baby. With the support of a doula, you and your partner can continue being fully supported when your midwife needs to step back and look at the clinical aspect.
Doulas usually go on call for you around 36 or 37 weeks but almost always available via text or email when you have a question. Many doulas offer lots of other services such as childbirth classes, birth photography, story writing, etc...
One of my favorite quotes about doulas is;
"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."
~John Kennel That is how amazing doulas are for birthing women!
Education is key to achieving the birth you desire. That doesn't mean if you take all the classes and read all the books that you will get precisely what you want. It does mean that you will have a better understanding of what to expect and prepare your mind, body, and heart for the work of labor. Childbirth Educators (CBE) teach classes prenatally that focus on labor, birth, postpartum, and some baby care.
There are many different types of CBE classes, just as there are many kinds of families. If you are going to birth at home or in a birthing center, you would greatly benefit from finding a CBE that teaches you and your partner about unmedicated, natural childbirth.
So you want to stay home from the hospital as long as possible but have the support of a doula. Well then, say hello to your monitrice. A monitrice is a midwife that has agreed to support you in your home while you are in labor and helps you determine the right time to go to the hospital to deliver. Once at the hospital, your monitrice usually stays and becomes your labor doula. A monitrice provides clinical skills such as blood pressure checks, vaginal exams, etc...while in your home, tells you when its time to go, but does not deliver your baby at home.
The "4th Trimester" is a forgotten time in American culture. We expect women to give birth and then be ready to take care of their other children, chores, and even going back to work without the thought that she must heal. Just as a labor doula helps provide you and your partner with emotional, physical, and informational support, so does a postpartum doula.
There are postpartum doulas for just about every situation you can think of. Need some help with siblings? Boom! PP doula. Need help with meals? Boom! PP doula. Need some dishes washed, laundry done, pets fed? BOOM! Postpartum doulas to the rescue.
An encapsulation specialist prepares a woman's placenta by cleaning, steaming, dehydrating, grinding, and putting the powder into capsules. There are no reliable studies on placentophagy (the act of eating one's placenta). Still, there are many anecdotal stories from thousands of women on how consuming their placenta helped with mood balancing, milk production, and pain relief.
A lactation consultant is trained in the full scope of the breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby. You can see one prenatally to help create a plan, particularly if you have a history of nursing complications. You can also wait to see one postpartum if your care provider recommends it or you feel like your breastfeeding relationship needs improvement.
There are many, many other types of birth workers, but this post can only be so long. If you would like to learn more about any I've mentioned, or one I haven't mentioned, leave a comment, and I will come back around and see how I can help.
You can find many of my favorite birth workers listed above under the Resources tab.