A monitrice is someone trained in clinical skills related to child birth. This means that a monitrice will be an advisor for an expectant mother, helping her to prepare for the delivery, both physically (exercises, dietary changes, stretches, etc), and mentally. This does not include delivering the baby, which is the primary difference between a monitrice and a midwife. A monitrice will also usually be the first person contacted by the mother when labor seems to be beginning. The monitrice will usually come over and monitor maternal vital signs, including dilation, fetal heart rate, membrane rupture, and the position of the baby. This prevents false labor hospital visits dramatically. If labor is imminent, the monitrice will then help the delivery process, by making the process as painless, calm, and comfortable for the mother as possible, using techniques similar to a doula.

The main difference between a doula and a monitrice is that the monitrice has been given professional training in clinical skills related to child birth, and is able to give medical evaluations. Some people prefer this, others prefer the more supportive role adopted by a doula. The biggest points to consider here are that:

  • A monitrice will make fetal checkups more convenient, as the monitrice typically performs house calls.
  • A monitrice will reduce false labor hospital visits
Either way, the doula or monitrice will be providing more emotional support than anything else in the final hours. When selecting a monitrice, it's important to insist on a well-qualified one, especially if the monitrice will be performing the prenatal checkups instead of a physician. This means checking for a nursing degree, and specific experience and training in labor and delivery.

http://www.expectantmothersguide.com/library/EUSmonitrice.htm - What is a monitrice?
http://hometown.aol.com/singdoula/page1.html - Doula vs Monitrice (Megatokyo Midwife Massacre)

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