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The Difference Between a Midwife and a Doula

A doula and a midwife are professionals that assist a woman in the birthing process. This is where their similarities end.

5-Minute Crafts would like to tell you about what the differences between a midwife and a doula are.

❗ This article is for information purposes only and can’t replace professional advice.

What a doula is, and what they do

A doula is professionally trained to support and accompany a woman throughout pregnancy, during childbirth, and during the postpartum period. Basically, a doula is a birth counselor. They provide informational, physical, and emotional support to a birthing woman, her partner, and family.

What a doula does:

  • They provide the expectant mother with information about the upcoming birth and newborn care.
  • They explain the details of the birthing process and help a woman choose the way in which she will give birth (natural childbirth, cesarean section, etc.).
  • They create a birth plan.
  • They teach women how to tell if her contractions are real and explain how to breathe during childbirth.
  • They assist a woman during childbirth, providing breathing techniques, relaxation tips, and massage, as well as emotional support.
  • They help a woman recover from the labor and care for the newborn.
  • They teach a woman how to breastfeed, explaining how to properly attach a baby to the breast, avoid problems with breastfeeding, etc.
  • They help to cope with postpartum anxiety and fatigue.

A doula is a woman’s non-medical assistant. Certified doulas undergo special training courses and pass an exam, but they often don’t have a medical education. Unlike a midwife, a doula can’t deliver babies or perform any medical procedures (unless they have additional medical education and relevant certifications).

What midwives are, and what they do

A midwife is a trained health professional who assists women during labor, delivery, and after childbirth. They can deliver babies, perform gynecological examinations, monitor the fetus, and perform various procedures during and after childbirth.

What else does a midwife do?

  • They assist in pregnancy planning.
  • They provide health advice during pregnancy, childbirth, and afterward.
  • They prescribe supplements and medicines that will help maintain the mother and baby’s health during pregnancy and after it.
  • They carry out prenatal examinations and order tests.
  • They monitor the mother and baby’s health before, during, and after childbirth.
  • They prepare a woman for childbirth and deliver the baby.
  • If necessary, they make referrals to doctors.

Compared to a doula, a midwife performs more complex tasks that require medical training. They are allowed to participate in the delivery process along with an obstetrician, although they can’t perform complex procedures related to the woman’s health. For example, a midwife is not qualified to perform a cesarean section or make any decisions in case of complications during delivery.

How to make a choice between a doula and a midwife

Even though both doulas and midwives work with pregnant women, they have very different functions. Midwives resolve any medical issues related to the birth and postpartum processes, while doulas support women emotionally and physically at the same time.

You can use the services of a doula or a midwife, or both of them at once — it all depends on your requests and needs. If you need support and feel like you lack knowledge about the birthing process, a doula can help you with this. And if you want to solve medical issues, this is a role of a midwife. However, you may opt for no additional people and rely entirely on your own experience and that of the maternity team in the hospital.

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