What’s the Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife
The difference between a doula and midwife always causes a little confusion.You might wonder whether you need a midwife, a doula, or both because of the uncertainty surrounding midwives and doulas.
Since both midwives and doulas assist parents throughout labor, they appear to be similar to one another. Expectant parents who choose to deliver with or without using pain medication most frequently use them both. However, their functions during birthing are actually somewhat dissimilar.
What Is A Certified Nurse Midwife?
A CNM is a qualified medical professional who can offer care before, during, and following childbirth. They are fully licensed medical practitioners, and the scope of their midwifery practice depends on their training and state regulations.
Traditional midwives offer gynecological care for those who are pregnant or not. These are some of the service midwives provide and is also dependent on the US state:
- Pap smears
- Pelvic exams
- Breast exams
- Prenatal care
- Fetal monitoring
- Care during labor and delivery
- Administering pain medication (even epidurals) and labor-inducing drugs
Together with their medical knowledge, midwives typically offer more emotional support than doctors, and this is why pregnant individuals opt for them over a gynecologist. In addition, midwives are different from doctors because they try to minimize or prevent intervention during labor and delivery. Midwifery views are that since pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes, letting them occur as naturally as possible is essential.
What Is A Doula?
A doula is a specialist in supporting expectant parents before, during, and after childbirth. They are not medical professionals and instead are advisors and counselors. Because they lack the necessary clinical medical training, doulas cannot deliver babies or provide prenatal medical care.
During labor, the doula concentrates primarily on the birthing parent, while the other care team members pay attention to both the parent and the baby. These are some of the services one can expect from a doula:
- Relaxation techniques
- Assistance with breathing technique
- Help with labor positions
There are two types of doulas available to expectant parents:
- Birth doula: The primary responsibility of a birth doula is to support parents during labor by providing non-medical techniques like breathing exercises, massages, and assistance in changing your labor position. They are usually by the side of parents right from the very beginning of the birth process.
- Postpartum doula: These doulas offer assistance to new parents and their infants to help them adjust. Postpartum doula services include explaining typical newborn behavior, assistance with breastfeeding, and teaching soothing techniques.
Am I Able To Use A Midwife And Doula?
You most certainly can. There is no restriction on having both or one. When you have a doula and a midwife, your physical and emotional needs will be taken care of throughout labor. It is definitely a good idea if you are nervous about delivering or experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. Typically doulas and midwives work hand in hand to bring you comfort during your labor.
Midwives favor parents having the additional support of doulas as this also makes their task of bringing your baby into the world easier.
Are Midwives And Doulas Certified?
There is no formal licensing requirement for a doula, and medical training is not a requirement either. However, a lot of doulas decide to get trained and certified by institutions that regulate doula training courses. Institutions that doulas can get certification from are Childbirth International, International Childbirth Education Association, and Doulas of North America and many others.
Midwives, on the other hand, need to have a formal qualification in order to assist in births. The US national certifying organization for certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CM) is the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB). The Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) has granted accreditation to midwifery education programs in the United States. Different states have different standards for CNM and CM legal recognition.
Is Hiring A Midwife Worth It?
Numerous pregnant parents prefer a midwife versus a gynecologist for their delivery. This is due to the holistic birthing approach that midwives adopt. Midwifery bases childbirth on peaceful and natural techniques that allow parents to be in the moment instead of the hustle and bustle of medical intervention.
The gentle nature of midwifery centers around the emotions and understanding of the birthing parent’s needs. So when you hire a midwife to help you obtain holistic birthing, you most certainly reap the benefits of their training.
Why Should I Include A Doula In My Care Team?
The birthing process can sometimes be tough and draining on a parent, often affecting their mental state and emotions. Birthing doulas are trained to help you manage all those big feelings. They see you and your partner through labor while the rest of the team is able to focus on keeping you and your baby safe.
Doulas usually focus their attention on one birthing patient at a time, meaning that you have this person by your side through labor and delivery. Midwives tend to go in and out of the room, so you don’t always have their full attention, as there may be someone else birthing at the same time.
The Bottom Line
Whether you choose to have a midwife, a doula, or both, we guarantee you won’t be doing your birthing process a disservice. Having a baby without the proper support can end up being traumatic and such an unpleasant experience. You will want to arm yourself with the best to bring your precious little one into the world and also have yourself taken care of. So having a doula and midwife is the best route to take with your birthing plan.