Surrogacy is a life-changing journey. But, like any family-building experience, it wouldn’t be possible without the help of some very important people.
Today, we’d like to highlight and celebrate the essential work that midwives and doulas do to provide care to intended mothers and their newborns, as well as gestational carriers. May 5 happens to be International Midwives Day, and the theme for this year is Midwives with Women.
If you’re a surrogate or intended parent, then you might have thought about using a midwife or a doula at some point. Both of these professionals are great resources, but how do you know which one is right for you? Should you use both or neither? We’ll share a little information about your options to help you get started.
What’s the Difference Between a Midwife and a Doula?
Both a midwife and a doula can be extremely helpful during childbirth — especially for women who are looking for the kind of specialized care an obstetrician can’t offer. But, not a lot of people know what kind of services they can provide or how they differ.
Here’s what you can expect from each one:
- Midwives: A midwife is a trained health care professional who supports women during labor, delivery and the postpartum period. She’s also able to provide care to newborns. Midwives aren’t doctors, but they have completed a graduate program in midwifery. There are also several types of midwives, but the most common is a Certified Nurse Midwife, or CNM for short. Although they’re registered nurses, they can’t perform certain deliveries, like a c-section. Because of their restrictions, they’re best used for women with low-risk pregnancies.
- Doulas: A doula is very similar to a midwife. These professionals provide the emotional and educational support that women often need during pregnancy and the difficult postpartum period. However, a doula is not a maternity care provider. This means that you can’t use one to replace a midwife or your doctor. Still, their experiences as a birth coach are invaluable for both intended parents and surrogates.
If you’re using a midwife, you should be prepared for the chance that they’ve never delivered a baby via surrogacy before. In that case, you’ll want to prepare them for the unique surrogacy experience. Here are a few tips, if they need some background knowledge:
- Make sure to explain what the surrogacy process.
- Provide an outline of your birth plan.
- Make sure they know they can contact your specialist if they have any questions.
- Communicate your feelings.
Why You Should Consider Using a Doula or a Midwife
If you’re a surrogate, using a doula or a midwife can be a great help during childbirth. Pregnancy is already stressful enough, and it can be extremely helpful to have another experienced professional on your side. For surrogates, these birth coaches can offer:
- Prenatal support and education
- Birth planning
- Support and education
- Counseling postpartum
Doulas and midwives are also a great resource for intended parents, too. Some of their services include:
- Childcare education
- Newborn support
- Support for you as a new parent
- And more
While a doula or a midwife can be a great resource for both parties, they’re not for everyone. Before you choose one, please make sure you’ve done plenty of research to make sure you’ve found a great professional.
Sharing Your Plan with Your Specialist
If you’re thinking about using a doula or a midwife, let your specialist know. There are a lot of choices that you’ll have to make in your birth plan, and this is one of the most important. Using either one can be advantageous, and your specialist can help you decide which one is right for you.
This decision must be made by both the surrogate and the intended parents, so it’s crucial that everyone is on the same page. Your specialist can help mediate the conversation until you can come to a decision that’s right for both parties.
If you need help finding a midwife or a doula, your surrogacy specialist may refer you to local professionals in your area. The OBGYN or hospital might also have some resources available to help you get started. For additional resources, check out these websites:
If you have any other questions about using a midwife or a doula, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist for more information. And, if you plan on using either, let your specialist know as soon as possible. Finding the right doula or midwife takes plenty of time and research, so don’t rush yourself when it comes to choosing the right one for you.