Difference Between Doulas & Midwives
Something that I get a LOT when I tell people that I'm a doula, is: "oh, like a midwife!".
No. Not like a midwife.
I then usually go on a tangent about how they are in fact different professions with different roles, and the person I'm speaking to either learns something new, or loses interest.
Such is life!
Sometimes the conversation turns into "so are you going to become a midwife, then?".
No, once again, different thing, not a stepping stone. *
The simplest explanation differentiating the two is: doulas are non-medical support people, whereas midwives are medical, as they actually deliver the baby.
But let's break it down even further, shall we?
Role of a Midwife
-attends university/college for years to receive proper training and credentials
-monitors health of mother & baby before, during, and after labour
-performs clinical tasks such as checking cervical dilation, blood pressure, medical charting etc.
-orders medical tests
-physical support during birth process
-arrives close to when baby is born, in later stages of labour
-delivers baby & placenta
-monitors bleeding and vaginal repair
-helps with breastfeeding
Some midwives do go above & beyond, and possibly offer even more than what is listed. However, their main focus is always on the health of the mother & baby.
If, God forbid, anything were to go wrong, it's in their hands. They need to act quick, problem solve. And keeping mum calm during this time may not be their top priority.
Which is where your doula comes in!
Role of a Doula
-studies through a program to receive training, no university/college credentials are required
-provides informational support in the form of resources in client's community
-helps clients create a birth plan
-emotional preparation for birth & parenting
-offers continual support in early labour, active labour, and transition
-makes suggestions about position changes
-uses tools & techniques, such as counter-pressure, to help manage the physical aspect of labour
-can take photos of labour & birth at client's request
-keeps the atmosphere calm and enjoyable
-supports client's partner
-helps clients feel confident advocating for themselves
-helps with breastfeeding
-helps clients process birth experience
Doula translates from Greek as "woman servant". Your doula is always there for YOU. Not for your baby. You are the star of the show. Birth is not only about bringing your baby earth-side, it's also about creating a mother. And doulas are there to support that mother in whatever way she needs.
As doulas and midwives are definitely not interchangeable, you can in fact utilize both for your birth!
Whether you use an OB/GYN or a midwife, you need someone there to make sure you deliver the baby safely. A doula cannot do this. It is out of our scope of practice. (And as a CAPPA doula, I do not attend knowingly-unassisted-home births.)
So once you know who will be delivering your baby, it's time to build your birth team!
In addition to your partner, and possibly mother, sisters, & friends, a doula is a great option.
All the support that you can get will only help you on your birth journey.
Midwives and doulas work well together, with the same main goal of a happy, healthy mom & baby. With both of us there, you can pretty much be certain that everything will be taken care of!
(* While yes, some doulas do go on to become midwives, it is not a necessary stepping stone. Some women, like myself, are just doulas, and do not want to become midwives. I am very happy supporting women in the role of a doula.)