Midwife Vs. Doula: What's The Difference And Which Is Right For You?

You want your birth experience to go exactly as you imagined, and if your pregnancy is healthy — and you have no history of complications — you may even choose a midwife for the delivery. But you have probably also heard about doulas, who help enhance the birth experience as well, which makes you wonder which might be right for you. In many cases, you don't have to choose and can have both a midwife and a doula present at the birth of your child because each one performs a different role in helping you bring new life into the world.

Some OB-GYN practices have certified nurse practitioner midwives on staff who become your caregiver before and during pregnancy. They can perform regular pap smears and offer birth control options as regular gynecological care. When you become pregnant, midwives can also attend all of your prenatal visits and deliver your baby, but, in case there are any complications, there is also a trained medical doctor on call whom the midwife can contact right away, according to MedicineNet

A doula is not a medical professional but can still perform valuable services during your pregnancy and birth as well as after your baby has been born.

Learn about the different types of midwives

Before deciding if you want a midwife to tend to your prenatal care and deliver your baby, you need to know if a doctor might be a better fit for your pregnancy. First, you need to know that there are two types of midwives. There are the midwives you think of in years and centuries gone by who attended to births with almost no medical training. Today, they are called "traditional midwives" and often attend to births in more rural American communities. Not all states allow them to practice, and, while there are standards for someone to obtain a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certificate, not all states allow CPMs to be licensed to deliver babies, according to Healthline.

A medically trained midwife is known as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) and often has a bachelor's degree in nursing, while some have gone further and are nurse practitioners. These are the midwives who work in conjunction with doctor's practices and are generally considered the safest choices for either home or hospital births if your pregnancy is healthy and you choose not to use a medical doctor but have one as a backup in case of emergency (via Healthline). Remember, if you choose a midwife to deliver your baby and manage your pre- and post-natal care, you can still choose a doula.

What is the purpose of a doula?

A doula is not a medical professional but instead someone there to give you personal care during pregnancy, during the birth, and in the post-partum period. Pregnancy can be a fraught period in your life, even if everything goes perfectly smoothly and your pregnancy is complication-free. Either way, you might want someone who pays you personalized attention throughout the process.

While a CNM is there to offer medical services and deliver your baby, a doula is there for your comfort during this time. You may have your partner there to offer emotional support as well as a doula. Your doula will focus on helping you develop a birth plan before labor and then help ensure it is carried out during labor. Doulas offer assistance with breathing techniques and labor positioning, and they also provide massages for your comfort. You might not even want a doula there during the birth of your child but love the care they provide during late pregnancy and soon after your child is born, according to MedicineNet.

Remember, a doula is not a substitute for a medical professional, and you will either need a midwife or a doctor to deliver your baby and make sure you are both healthy. A doula can be an added bonus to help ensure your birth experience is everything you had hoped for.