Childbirth support is becoming more commonplace in America. This is fantastic news for women. Having the right support during labor and delivery can make the difference between a labor experience that is peaceful and empowering and one that is tense and scary. Navigating what type of support to have and whom to hire can be almost as daunting as the approaching labor and delivery. We would like to make it a little less complicated for you, so we are going to discuss the difference between a monitrice and doula:
What Is a Doula?
Many new moms have heard of a doula before. They are becoming much more mainstream as women decide that they both need and deserve to have support and continuity of care during their labor and delivery. A doula is a non-medical support person (almost always a woman) who offers individual emotional, physical, and continuous support during labor (stay tuned for another article about the differences between labor doulas and postpartum doulas). Doulas may be trained as midwives or nurses, but their role during labor and delivery is not clinical. As such, they do not typically perform cervical exams, assess the baby’s heart rate or position, or monitor Mom’s vital signs.
What Does a Monitrice Do?
Not many mothers are familiar with what a monitrice does, but they are a wonderful addition to a labor support team. Monitrices are usually either midwives who also sometimes act as labor support or RNs who are also trained as doulas. Monitrices are considered labor support but because they have clinical training, they perform some limited clinical tasks during labor. These may include assessing the mother, monitoring vital signs, determining cervical dilation, and checking the baby’s heart rate.
Monitrices and doulas offer a wide range of services to a mother during labor, delivery, and immediately postpartum. It is important to interview your labor support person to see if her skills match what you desire for your labor and delivery.
- The mothers who may benefit the most from a monitrice over a doula are usually those who wish to labor for a long time at home and who are not comfortable assessing when to travel to the hospital or birth center (or who want to wait until they are close to delivering before going in),
- those moms who are seeking to have a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean section (VBAC) but wish to labor at home for a long time,
- or those moms who wish to have a homebirth but don’t want to call the midwife too early.
In these circumstances, a doula is often capable of providing outstanding support, but the mother may be more comfortable with a labor support person who can more closely monitor labor progress and the baby’s heart rate and who has clinical training that includes identifying potential risks and necessary interventions.
Montrices and doulas can be covered by both Health Savings Accounts and Medicaid. Some private health insurance providers also provide coverage, so if you are considering using a montrice or doula, check to see if you are eligible under your current plan.
Whomever you decide to have with you during your labor and delivery, it is important that you are comfortable with that person’s skill set, personality, and experience. Whether you choose a monitrice or a doula is not as important as whom you choose. Giving birth is an intimate and amazing experience, and having the right people with you can make that experience even more meaningful and fulfilling, as well as safer, quicker, and more peaceful.
By Laura Ricketts