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What Are Midwives and Doulas?

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Whether you're a first-time mom or mom of many, having a baby brings with it many different emotions, perhaps the most common of which is worry. Mom's worry. If you are expecting, you're probably pondering the type of delivery you would like to have. Many women are opting for more natural births that can be performed in the home with as little medical intervention as possible.

This trend is becoming increasingly more common for second-time moms, having tried a traditional birth once, are more open to trying something more natural the second time around.

If you are considering a natural birth, you will undoubtedly want to know more about midwifery and doula practices. As a midwife or doula will tell you, there are many differences between a traditional or medically-managed birth versus a natural childbirth either at home or in the hospital.

A midwife may deliver your baby in your home or in a hospital. This depends in part upon her credentials. Midwives can be accredited or non-accredited. Accredited midwives generally have the option of performing hospital or home births, whereas non-accredited midwifes traditionally practice only within the home. Keep in mind that a midwife's title will reveal some information related to her educational background, certification and practice.

Most certified midwives have accreditation that includes schooling and apprentiship. A certified nurse midwife usually also requires an RN and BSN degree, though there are exceptions to the rule. Depending on a midwife's credentials, they may deliver your baby in a hospital or in your home.

Non-accredited midwives are also schooled and apprenticed in natural birthing processes, but traditionally have less schooling or are not credentialed in the same manner as accredited midwives. They are not, for example, required to uphold regulations, and therefore there is less documentation related to their skills and abilities. If you are expecting your first baby, it might bring you more peace of mind to work with a certified midwife.

"The moms are just so proud of themselves after they run the marathon that is natural childbirth and the dads are just gushing praise to the moms for their accomplishment. In addition, the moms seem to be a lot more connected with their babies for a variety of reasons. They worked *very* hard to prepare for the birth and they worked *very* hard to deliver that baby." - Lea, Certified Doula, Student Midwife

A wonderful addition to the birthing process is working with a doula. A doula is also often referred to as a labor coach or assistant. Doulas have been credited with relaxing many soon-to-be moms during the labor process. Doulas work to reduce your stress level while in labor so as to produce a delivery with fewer complications and problems. A doula will attend to you continually throughout the birthing process. Like midwives, a majority of doulas are certified as childbirth assistants. To find a doula near you, contact the Doulas of North America or DONA association. A midwife might be able to recommend a doula for you. 
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About The Author

Antigone Arthur
Antigone is a freelance writer and proud mother. She has been researching and writing about pregnancy, breastfeeding, infertility and alternative health solutions for more than a decade.
Antigone Arthur

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