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Difference between Doula & Midwife

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doula vs midwife

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One of the most common debates for most women before childbirth is doula vs midwife; whom to ask for physical and emotional support during pregnancy between a doula and a midwife or would she require the services of both?

Both a midwife and a doula will be able to provide support to the mother during pregnancy and birth. But have you ever wondered what is the difference between a midwife and a doula? In this article below, we shall discuss in detail, what is a doula and a midwife, and how doulas and midwives can provide medical care and support and help you during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, and also ensure that you have a good birth experience.

Who Are Doulas And Midwives? Doula Vs Midwife

Doulas and midwives are trained and qualified professionals who provide medical advice to women during the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Doulas and midwives have different medical training, education, and certification.

A doula is a professional medical care provider who provides support to the mother, before, during, and after delivery. Doulas provide medical advice and support to the mother and do not deliver babies. A midwife is a certified nurse who provides prenatal care, gynecological exams, and medications and provides regular support to doctors and pregnant women during labor and delivery.

What Is A Doula?

A doula provides physical and emotional support to a pregnant woman, before, during, and after childbirth. Doulas also supports a woman in creating a birth plan. However, doulas are not medically trained and are not qualified to deliver babies.

Although the name “doula” denotes a medical professional present during the delivery, there are also doulas that specialize in antepartum (pre-birth) and postpartum (post-birth) care. These doulas are known as birth doulas and postpartum doulas.

What Is A Birth Doula?

The main role of a birth doula (also known as a labor doula) is to be by the side of a pregnant woman throughout the process of labor and childbirth. They provide nonmedical techniques such as breathing, and massage, and assist pregnant women to practice changing to different body positions.

What Support Does A Birth Doula Provide?

Birth doulas provide support to pregnant women in the following ways –

  • The doulas provide education to a woman and her partner about the entire process of delivery and childbirth.
  • The doulas help you determine if your contractions are real.
  • The doula will provide emotional support to the mother.
  • The doula will help the mother stay calm during labor.

What Is A Postpartum Doula?

Postpartum doulas assist a new mother throughout her recovery from the birthing process after she has given birth. This involves looking after the baby and assisting a mother with nursing. Postpartum doulas may also help with your family life, especially if the baby has older siblings.

What Support Does A Postpartum Doula Provide?

Postpartum doulas help and assist a new mother by providing the below services

  •  Postpartum doulas support the mother in the recovery process after childbirth and care for the baby.
  • The doula will assist women with housework and help to take care of other children at home.
  • The doula will focus on your postpartum health, recovery, and nursing or breast problems.
  • The doula helps parents navigate baby feeding options whether it be breastfeeding, pumping and bottle feeding, or formula. 
  • The doula will help the mother in dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety.
  • The doula will ensure that the mother is physically taking care of herself with proper nutrition and staying hydrated.

What Is A Midwife?

A midwife is a trained medical professional who plays a very important role in the birthing process. They have special education and training and are certified for their job. A midwife can be either a woman or a man.

Some midwives have a bachelor’s degree with specialized training, while others have a qualified nurse certification and are called certified nurse midwives.

What Does A Certified Nurse Midwife Provide?

Certified nurse-midwives are trained medical professionals who are qualified and ready to support doctors during the process of delivery and childbirth. A midwife can also deliver babies without the help of a doctor through home birth.

Midwife care facilities emphasize unmedicated delivery, early detection of problems, and the use of high-risk emergency measures when necessary. A certified midwife can practice in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, and private homes.

Certified nurse-midwives may do many of the same tasks as a doctor, and they perform the following services-

  • Perform gynecological exams
  • Provide prenatal care
  • Administer pain medications
  • Deliver baby through the process of home birth
  • Monitor the mother and baby
  • Inject epidural to reduce pain
  • Can perform an episiotomy

How About Training And Certification?

We shall discuss what is a  doula vs midwife training and certification process below, one after the other.

1. Doula Training And Certification

Doulas are usually certified after taking a few medical education classes. However, a certification procedure is not required of all doulas. If a doula pursues certification, she will often get formal training as well as practice to help during the birthing process. 

A pregnant woman should be aware that, while having a doula at her side might be relaxing and pleasant, she will not receive the same level of care as a midwife. Doulas aren’t trained medical professionals and their function is entirely advisory.

Doulas will not be allowed to prescribe medications or give medical advice to a mother about the labor. A doula is a supporter, and she is there to help women feel better during pregnancy. Doulas should not be involved in any medical aspects of the birthing process.

2. Midwife Training And Certification

A midwife must be registered or licensed by an approved education program in the country in which they practice. All midwives must pass the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council’s certification standards, which include specialized education, training, and supervised clinical practice.

In the United States, the North American Registry of Midwives and the American Midwifery Certification Board, both certify midwives. In the United States, many midwives are also registered nurses. Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) are registered nurses who have earned a bachelor’s degree from an approved school.

How To Choose Between A Doula And A Midwife? Doula Vs Midwife

You can have both a midwife and a doula to assist you during the delivery process since both doulas and midwives provide different services to pregnant women. What’s essential for women to know is that midwives and doulas have very distinct roles to play. The misunderstanding is most likely due to knowledge similarity and close communication between the two before and after delivery.

The distinction between a doula and a midwife may be summarised in two short points-

  • A midwife is a trained medical practitioner with skills comparable to those of a doctor.
  • A doula is a personal assistant and adviser who works entirely to provide physical and emotional support to a woman, her partner, and her family during childbirth.

If a mother opts for a home birth, she will need a midwife, since their medical knowledge and expertise would be important if complications occur. Midwives can predict issues and check the mother and baby regularly.

Doulas cannot administer medications or order an epidural, so having midwives there will give you more alternatives if you want to keep those options open. Doulas are trained persons who may assist a pregnant woman, her partner, and the family of the baby. They are not healthcare professionals.

Doula Vs Midwife Final Conclusion:

Understanding the differences between a doula and a midwife will assist pregnant women in determining whether they require the services of a doula or a midwife. You may have a midwife and a doula at the same time.

However, If you want a helpful team on one of the most significant days of your life, i.e. childbirth,  you want professionals who will answer all of your labor concerns, calm your anxieties, and relieve your pains. Midwives are well qualified to give medical treatment and are thus recommended. You, on the other hand, have the option of deciding whether or not to hire a doula.

Doula vs Midwife FAQs

1) How much would a doula charge for her services?

The costs for a doula can be $1,000 or more in major cities of the United States and substantially less in other areas.

2) How much would a midwife charge for her services?

An average cost of a midwife is around $2,000. However, some insurance policy companies cover the midwives' fees.

3) Can midwives manage high-risk pregnancies and perform surgery?

No midwives cannot do any of these. However, obstetricians (OB-GYN physicians) can manage high-risk pregnancies and can perform surgeries, including C-sections, when necessary.

4) Can a woman make use of the services of both doulas and midwives?

Yes, many women choose to utilize both a doula and a midwife, however, it is not necessary to employ both if the services of just one are used.
Dr. Abby Morris

Dr. Abby Morris

As a postpartum doula, Abby helps birth givers navigate parenthood in their postpartum period by providing infant and maternal care. She is also a sleep consultant for families who struggle with all thing sleep from newborn to toddlers.

On behalf of the editorial team at Parenthoodbliss, we follow strict reporting guidelines and only use credible sources, along with peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and highly respected health organizations. To learn about how we maintain content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

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