Doula Vs. Midwife…. Aren’t They The Same?

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Image ID: Pregnant person sitting on exam table. Doctor standing next to them with a hand on their shoulder, looking at them. Doctor is showing pregnant person something on a tablet.

So you may be wondering…. why do I need a doula if I have a midwife? Aren’t they the same thing? Well I’m here to tell you… they are not! Doulas and midwives has some similarities, but many things that are different. So first let’s start with the definitions of doula and midwife.

Doula: a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth

Midwife: a health professional who cares for mothers (birthing people) and newborns around childbirth.

So from the definitions you can see some similarities, but some differences. So what are the differences?

  1. Doulas do not preform any medical services. Midwives do.

  • Doulas are not trained medical professionals. They are trained in many aspects of support and knowledge around pregnancy, labor, and after birth care, but not in a medical way. They will not be doing any cervical checks, catching a baby, or touching the “downstairs” region at all. Midwives on the other hand will be there to do cervical checks, give medication, catch a baby (or two… twins!), and do anything that is medically related.

  1. Doulas are they to provide more emotional and physical support along with information.

  • Doulas provide a more wholistic experience when it comes to support. While a midwife definitely provides more emotional and physical support than a typical OBGYN doctor, they are not going the be there all the time. Your doula will be there the entire birth (sometimes with back up help). They will be there to support you when you are laboring at home if you want, and can stay after if needed to give more support. Your midwife is there to provide medical help and typically comes when closer to actual pushing or active labor.

  1. Doulas there to support the rest of your support team too.

  • Doulas will be there to help your support team as well. They will be showing the support people how to help physically. They will make sure the support people are taken care of. Maybe the support person has been doing a lot of physical touch work and needs a break. Or the support person is freaking out a bit and just need a person to help calm them down. Midwives are there to help the birthing person medically and not as much the support team.

  1. Doulas are there to help remind everyone of the birth plan

  • While midwives will look at and follow a birth plan, they have many patients often, and might not remember what each one’s birth plan said. The doula will be there to remind you, the birthing person, the support team, or the medical team sometimes (if needed) what is on the birth plan. To help stick to that if it is important to the birthing person.

So, while it is great to have a midwife, don’t count out having a doula. They both provide amazing support in different ways and can both work together to make your birth something amazing!

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