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Doula vs Midwife: Choosing Your Birth Companion

midwife vs doula

When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, having the right support can significantly improve the experience and outcome for both the mother and baby. Two types of professionals who provide valuable support during this time are doulas and midwives. While both play crucial roles, they have distinct differences in their scope of practice and the care they provide.

What is a doula nurse?

A doula is someone specially trained to help expectant mothers and their families emotionally, physically, and with information before, during, and after childbirth. Unlike doctors or nurses, doulas don’t give medical care. Instead, they focus on giving continuous support, encouragement, and help during labor and delivery.

A birth doula supports you emotionally and physically during labor, using techniques like breathing and massage. Whether you choose to be treated or not, they make you feel strong and safe. A doula can also provide comfort if you have a C-section. Studies show that having a doula can reduce the need for medical interventions and increase satisfaction with the birth experience.

Postpartum doulas assist new parents with recovery, infant care, and lactation support. They can also help out around the house, especially if there are siblings.

Doulas can help in many ways, including:

  • Teaching about pregnancy and getting ready for childbirth
  • Using techniques to help with labor (like breathing exercises, changing positions, or massages)
  • Providing emotional support and motivation
  • Speaking up for the mother’s birthing preferences
  • Making sure there’s good communication between the mother and medical staff
  • Supporting the mother after childbirth (like with breastfeeding or newborn care)

Doulas work together with medical professionals like midwives and doctors, not in place of them. They support the mother’s needs and wishes while respecting the expertise of the medical team.

What is a midwife?

A midwife is a healthcare professional who is trained and licensed to care for women during pregnancy, childbirth, and after the baby is born. There are two major types of midwives in the US: Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Direct-Entry Midwives.

To become a CNM, you must first become a qualified nurse and then get a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery. On the other hand, Direct-Entry Midwives don’t have to be nurses. They usually have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a school for midwives. However, the scope of practice for Direct-Entry Midwives is more limited compared to CNMs.

Here are the things a midwife can do for you:

  • Taking care of the mother during pregnancy (checking the baby’s growth, advising on eating well, etc.)
  • Helping with labor and delivery
  • Caring for the mother and baby after birth (checking their health, helping with breastfeeding, etc.)
  • Providing general care for women (like birth control advice, reproductive health services, etc.)

Midwives can work in different places, like hospitals, birth centers, or private clinics. They are trained to spot and deal with any problems that might come up during pregnancy and birth, and they work closely with doctors when needed.

The Difference Between Midwife and Doula

While both doulas and midwives are important for supporting pregnant women, there are key differences:

Education and Training:

  • Doulas: They learn about pregnancy and birth through training programs but don’t need formal medical training.
  • Midwives: They complete accredited programs and need licensure or certification. They have medical training in obstetrics, gynecology, and neonatal care.

What They Do:

  • Doulas: Help them emotionally, physically, and with knowledge, but don’t do any medical work.
  • Midwives: Provide medical care throughout pregnancy, labor, and postpartum, including tests and prescriptions.

Consistency of Care:

  • Doulas: Build a close relationship and support the mother throughout pregnancy and birth.
  • Midwives: Provide care from pregnancy to postpartum, ensuring consistency.

Cost and Insurance:

  • Doulas: Costs vary, and insurance may not cover their services.
  • Midwives: Often covered by insurance, depending on the type and policy.

When should I choose a midwife or doula?

Find a midwife or doula that you like, trust, and feel comfortable with. It is essential to find someone who values your thoughts and feelings about pregnancy and giving birth.

Another important thing is experience. Midwives and doulas with more experience may have valuable skills and insights from attending many births. Getting recommendations from family or friends who have used a midwife or doula can help you find someone you can trust.

If you’re searching online, ask for references and do your research. It’s perfectly fine to ask about a midwife’s or doula’s training, experience, and approach to pregnancy and birth.

Doula vs. Midwife: Who is the best pregnancy support?

Doulas and midwives are both vital for helping pregnant women during pregnancy and birth. Doulas help women emotionally, physically, and with knowledge, while midwives provide full medical care. It’s important to think about your needs, wants, and the amount of care you need when choosing between them. Ultimately, the most important factor is finding a supportive and trustworthy healthcare provider who aligns with your values and can help you have a positive birthing experience.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.