What Is The Difference Between A Midwife And A Doula?

Posted on 02. Nov, 2011 by in Birth, Labor & Delivery, Pregnancy Education

Choosing who will help you through your pregnancy is of monumental importance, but choosing who will help you bring your baby into this world is even greater.

While the majority of expecting and trying to conceive women are familiar with what and how an obstetrician will work with you throughout your pregnancy and delivery, not all of us are quite as privy to how a midwife or doula can aid us in the pregnancy and delivery process.

Midwife: A midwife is a trained medical professional. Their competency is based and measured through training, education, and supervised clinical experience. They don’t necessarily have a degree of any kind, but some do. In order to be a midwife, one must become certified. This means that at the end of their certification process, a midwife will hold certification accredited by the MEAC (Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, www.meacschools.org). With this certification they will be able to work in a private, public, or group practice. They can work with a team of medical doctors at a clinic, practice, hospital, or for themselves. 

Midwives can prescribe some medications, they can perform yearly gynecological exams, and they can deliver your child. They can also provide family planning, infant care, women’s health care, and provide prenatal and birthing care.

The scope of what a midwife can do is limited by state laws, which vary on a state by state basis.

A midwife is normally chosen by expecting parents if they crave more intimate care than a medical doctor can give. Some parents chose to birth at home or at a midwifery clinic, a doctor wouldn’t necessarily allow that so in those instances, a midwife would work with you to make that vision a reality.

Doula: A doula oftentimes becomes a mother’s best comrade throughout their pregnancy and labor. A doula provides intimate care to the mother and her baby.

There are two types of doulas; a birth doula and a postpartum doula.

Doula restrictions and guidelines vary per state. To become a doula, one must go through certification, training, and live births. A doula’s experience is key when it comes to choosing the right doula for you and your family.

You start getting to know your doula (if she wasn’t a friend prior to the pregnancy) while you’re pregnant. The bond begins to form between the two of you and the friendship blossoms into that of a respectful and conscientious one where you form a birth plan and questions get asked and answered back and forth.

Your doula’s main purpose is simply to be there for you, your baby, and your partner throughout the pregnancy and delivery. During labor, your doula can use numerous homeopathic techniques such as massage and different labor positions to help you through delivery. During your postpartum, your doula can help with caring for an infant, breastfeeding, and healing after childbirth.

A lot of pregnant families chose to have a midwife and a doula throughout their pregnancy, delivery, and even post-birth. Both become an integral part of the pregnancy and birth process and it’s really up to you and your partner to choose one or both or none to be present as your baby comes into this world.


About the author: Danielle is a freelance blogger and editor specializing in parenting, family, pregnancy, social media, and entrepreneurial topics. To learn more about Danielle, please visit her website at www.PenPointEditorial.com.

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