Does the Stress from Midwives’ and Doulas’ Jobs Lead to Mental Health Problems?

Does the Stress from Midwives’ and Doulas’ Jobs Lead to Mental Health Problems?


Midwifery and the Trauma that Comes with it

A growing number of new parents are turning to midwives and doulas to handle their delivery needs. This old-fashioned type of care has the appeal of being more natural and could allow a woman to have her child at home. However, these positions can be stressful and could lead to mental health problems and even job burnout. Understanding these consequences can help treat them.

Midwives and Doulas Have Stressful Positions

Although birth is a beautiful experience that will change a family’s life forever, it can be stressful. Midwives and doulas often have the most stressful jobs of all. Midwives and doulas must attend to a woman’s needs during the delivery, assess her pain, ensure that she is comfortable, and make sure that nothing goes wrong during her labor.

Unfortunately, this means that a midwife often experiences the woman’s pain and anxiety during the delivery. This type of empathetic sharing can be difficult to handle and could cause midwives to experience anxiety and even stress. These emotions could transition to more severe and problematic mental health problems that could be difficult to tolerate.

For instance, midwives could become depressed about their jobs due to massive anxiety and other emotional troubles. They could experience paranoia waiting for delivery assignment calls or have panic attacks during a delivery. The issues can spiral out of control and make it nearly impossible for a midwife or a doula to handle their career demands.

Unfortunately, mental health disorders can cause different conditions that could escalate. For example, a midwife may experience depression and anxiety that could eventually make her resent her position. When this happens, a midwife or a doula may find themselves viewing their career unhappily and even quit for good.

Stress May Lead to Burnout

The medical field is well-known for burnout, when people feel that they don’t have the desire or energy to perform their jobs any longer. The demands placed on doctors, nurses, and other experts in this field are understood.

However, people might not understand the dangers of midwife or doula burnout. Though they may not work the established schedules of nurses, some doulas and midwives are in massive demand. They may find themselves stressed to the point where they are unable to get out of bed for work.

This situation can be due partially to exhaustion caused by working too hard or by extended mental health concerns. For example, depression, anxiety, fear, and other health issues may make it even harder for a midwife to stay focused on her job duties. Burnout is a condition that typically builds for some time before it causes a complete collapse.

Mental health concerns can make it challenging for a midwife to want to continue in their career. Often, it may result in a midwife wanting to quit their job or change professions. Or, stress and burnout may cause them to experience problems during deliveries that could cause health issues and legal issues that could plague them for years to come.

Thankfully, there are ways that midwives and doulas can manage anxiety and burnout. They will need to have the strength of character to admit that there is a problem, which makes it easier for them to get started on their care. Though there are many steps that they can take on their own without experts’ help, it is usually a good idea to find some outside assistance.

Preventing This Problem

Midwives and doulas struggling with stress need to take steps to ensure that they don’t experience any health issues. They need to be honest about their symptoms and take steps to protect themselves if they worsen. These steps might include taking time off from work, since mental health days can help a midwife understand their condition and find some relief.

It is also essential to consider hiring expert help if the midwife becomes overworked during a delivery. If she finds herself doing too much work during delivery and getting worn out, extra helpers could take some demands off of her shoulders.

Such assistance can make the delivery healthier for both the mother and the baby. It can help manage the midwife’s or doula’s anxiety. It can also help minimize the risk of fatigue-related mistakes.

Meditation, massage therapy, and other relaxation methods may also provide some relief for overworked midwives and doulas. These therapeutic options help manage the muscle tension caused by stress and eliminate the harmful chemicals that build up in the mind and the body when a person experiences too much anxiety.

Speaking of chemicals and anxiety, like other health care practitioners, doulas and midwives might turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve anxiety and other byproducts of their positions. Turning to these substances often may create addictions that eventually require drug or alcohol rehab treatment.


To prevent such consequences, it may be necessary to consider the benefits of professional care and treatment. By working with counselors, doctors, and others, a midwife can understand the source of their anxiety and learn how to manage it.

Professionals may also prescribe medicine that helps to decrease midwives’ or doulas’ stress. This medication could include various types of anti-anxiety treatments that calm the body and make working more relaxed and more comfortable to handle.

Help is Always Available

Midwives who are struggling with stress should seek different resources to find the care they need. By taking control of their mental health, they provide themselves with the best chance to overcome a stressful position, avoid burnout, and become a happier person.

 Sources – Mental Health Symptoms and Work-Related Stressors in Hospital Midwives and NICU Nurses: A Mixed Methods Study – Factors that may influence midwives work-related stress and burnout – The effects of midwives’ job satisfaction on burnout, intention to quit and turnover: a longitudinal study in Senegal

semantics – Understanding Stress and Burnout in Birth Suite Midwives – Methods for Alleviating Stress and Increasing Resilience in the Midwifery Community: A Scoping Review of the Literature

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[…] a number of factors that can trigger mental illness and these include; Biological factors (genetics/heredity), Family history of mental illness, Social […]

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