What is the Difference Between a Midwife and a Doula?
Both midwives and doulas can play an important role in providing a natural and empowering birthing experience for mothers. While their roles are often confused, it’s important to understand that each of them has a different skill set and role in pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period.
What does a midwife do?
Midwives are healthcare professionals who specialize in providing care and support to individuals during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. The specific duties and responsibilities of midwives vary based on their level of training, state regulations, and the type of certification they have.
In general, a midwife has the following responsibilities:
1. Prenatal and Antenatal Care:
Midwives offer comprehensive prenatal care even before you are pregnant. They can help you optimize your health if you’re planning to get pregnant. They can prescribe blood work and supplements. After you get pregnant, a midwife helps monitor the health and well-being of you and your baby.
2. Labor and Birth Care:
Midwives are trained to assist in natural childbirth. They closely monitor the progress of labor and assist the mother through medical support. They can deliver babies at the birth center or home.
3. Order Tests and Screenings:
Midwives are certified to order and interpret various tests such as blood tests and ultrasounds. They can deduce whether your baby is growing well and you are doing well. They can also pick up on abnormalities and offer treatments accordingly.
4. Provide Education and Counseling:
Midwives are trained to educate and counsel patients regarding various aspects of their care. This includes family planning, contraception, lactation, etc.
5. Postpartum Care:
Midwives can continue to provide care in the postpartum period. They can check in with the mother to see if she and the baby are doing well. They can also assist with nursing and lactation or refer you to a specialist.
What does a doula do?
A doula is a trained and experienced professional who can provide emotional, physical, and informational support to individuals before, during, and after childbirth. They do not replace healthcare providers and can not provide any sort of medical care in this regard.
Their responsibilities include:
1. Emotional Support:
Doulas are trained to provide emotional support throughout labor and childbirth. They do this by offering reassurance, encouragement, and comfort to you and your partner through the process.
2. Education and Information:
While they can’t provide you with any sort of medical care, they can educate you about it. They can help you understand what to expect during childbirth and ways to cope with it. They can also assist with your birth plan by providing you with a broader scope of your options.
Doulas can’t make any decisions for you, but they can serve as your advocate. They can help ensure that your wishes are met during the whole process and that nothing is done against your preferences.
4. Physical Comfort:
Doulas know various comfort techniques to help ease pain and discomfort during labor. They offer massages, breathing exercises, and other techniques that may help without any interventions.
5. Continuous Presence:
Doulas are trained to stay and support you throughout labor, providing unwavering support and reassurance. You can rely on them to be there since that’s their literal job. This is especially important for mothers who lack support from family or friends.
Benefits of having a midwife and a doula
While their roles are different, they are both important for providing a wholesome and natural birth experience. While your midwife can medically care for you, your doula can emotionally support your pregnancy and labor journey. Together, they can help you reach your birth goals!
Where can I find a doula?
We have a list of trusted doulas available to assist expecting mothers. San Antonio Birth Doulas is an organization committed to providing doulas to all women who desire one.