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Doula vs Midwife: What is the Difference?

Every expectant and new mother needs physical and psychological help. Doula and Midwife are two experts that help an expectant or new mother during the period of pregnancy and early motherhood. 

Most people think Doula and Midwife perform the same duties. However, both have different certifications, training, and responsibilities. In today’s article, we will talk about the differences between Doula and Midwife. Read on! 

What is a Doula?

A Doula is an experienced professional who provides physical and emotional support throughout pregnancy and early motherhood. Doulas focus on needs of expectant mothers, strengthening their emotions to deliver the baby adequately. 

Although Doulas are experts present during the delivery period, some of them specialize in antepartum and postpartum care. In simple words, a Doula prepares a woman for childbirth. 

A birth Doula stays with the mother during birth and helps her to relax and breathe properly. She also offers massage and services like labor position assistance. Most often, Doulas are not medically trained, which means they can’t deliver babies. 

A Doula also encourages a woman’s partner to ensure his presence during the delivery so that the woman has some emotional support. 

What is a Midwife? 

Unlike Doulas, Midwives are healthcare professionals who can perform gynecological examinations, including pelvic exams, pap smears, and breast exams. A midwife can also write prescriptions to pregnant women and care of them during labor and delivery. 

Compared to a Doula who provides emotional support to the expectant or new mother, a midwife performs fetal monitoring and provides all the necessary information to women, including contraceptive methods. 

A midwife minimizes the use of unnecessary technology to streamline pregnancy and birth processes. She has skills to identify, guide, and refer the expectant mother who needs obstetrician’s services during birth. A midwife likewise is a medically trained individual who can even deliver babies. Some midwives work as nurses, providing various health services to expectant and new moms. 

Key Differences between Doula and Midwife 

The American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) provides certificates to both midwives and nurse-midwives. Most midwifery education programs require an individual to have a bachelors’ degree. Although some programs accept applicants with bachelors’ degrees, most require a degree in nursing. 

The Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) accredit all midwifery education programs in the U.S. However, legal recognition for certified midwives and certified nurse-midwives varies among states. 

On the other hand, Doulas do not have medical training, and they also do not require any formal licensing. However, many Doulas get training and certification provided by different institutions, such as the CAPPA and DONA International.  

Key Responsibilities of Doula 

  • Provides the mother with physical, emotional, educational, and moral support
  • Listens to the questions and concerns of the mother in a non-judgmental way
  • Attends prenatal meetings to understand requirements and establish preferences
  • Stays with the mother throughout the last trimester and labor for support
  • Visits the mother’s home after she discharges from the birth center
  • Provides practical advice and support to the mother after delivery
  • Organizes the nursery, prepares meals, and assists with breastfeeding
  • Educates on childbirth support and carries out prenatal and post-natal care

Key Responsibilities of Midwife  

  • Examines and monitors pregnant woman and assesses care requirements
  • Writes care plans and undertakes antenatal care in homes and hospitals
  • Carries out screening tests and provides necessary information to the mother
  • Provides emotional support and reassurance to pregnant women or mothers
  • Takes patient samples, read temperature, blood pressure, and pulse
  • Cares for a woman in labor and administers medication, intravenous infusions
  • Monitors the fetus during labor and advises about daily care of the newborn
  • Helps parents to cope with termination, miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death
  • Writes records and educate supportive midwives in identifying high-risk pregnancy. 

Final Words 

Doulas and midwives offer different types of services, although both support a woman’s childbirth experience. A midwife has medical training and focuses on delivering a normal and healthy baby during the birth process.

On the other hand, a Doula focuses on a woman’s needs and offers physical, mental, and emotional support to the expectant or new mother. Research studies show that Doulas can cut back on time in labor and delivery. 

She also helps a mother reduce anxiety and lowers the rate of C-sections. A Doula also improves the bonding between a mother and her baby post-birth. So, a woman needs both Doula and Midwife for support. 

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