The Midwife vs. The Doula
Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about Home Birth Care Providers…
When it comes to home births, the people providing the care can be either a midwife or doula. In fact, many of their services, functions, and responsibilities are so similar or overlapping that people tend to think that they are the same thing.
If you’re considering a home birth and wondering whether you need a midwife or doula, here is an easy guide to understanding the differences between them. It can also help you decide which one is right for you during your home birth.
Here’s a short midwife vs doula guide to give you the basics.
First, Their Similarities
The main reason that people confuse these two professions is that midwives and doulas generally do perform the same services during a home birth: they will assist the mother through the birthing process by providing emotional support and utilizing pain management techniques. Their goal is to ensure that the birth is successful and that both mother and baby are kept safe during the process.
So, Where Do They Differ?
The biggest difference between midwives and doulas is that midwives are required by law to have medical training as well as be certified by a recognized authority such as the North American Registry of Midwives or the American Midwifery Certification Board. Doulas, on the other hand, are not required to have any medical training or certification. They can opt to have formal training and be certified by bodies such as Doulas of North America or the International Childbirth Education Association if required by the state, but there are places where doulas are not required to have any certification to practice.
What is a Doula, Exactly?
You can think of a doula as someone who will help and assist you during childbirth. In fact, the word doula comes from a Greek word which means “female helper.” Their main purpose is to provide guidance and support during the childbirth process, and you can even hire a doula long before the actual birth in order to build a deeper relationship with them.
There are two types of doula: birth and postpartum.
The birth doula is the one who will be at your side during (and even slightly before) the labor process. Since their main goal is to help alleviate stress and make the birth as comfortable and complication-free as possible, they can help you by providing breathing techniques, massages, and maneuvering you during birth.
A postpartum doula will help a mother during the first few weeks or months after the birth. She will help care for the newborn, as well as provide guidance with different aspects of caring for the baby, such as breastfeeding, cleaning, and helping the baby sleep. They can even offer further services by helping you take care of other children in your home.
What is a Midwife?
A midwife can only attain her professional status by undergoing legitimate medical training, as well as being certified by a recognized certification body. Since they have medical training, they can function in similar ways as nurses or doctors when it comes to childbirth procedures. They are able to perform gynecological exams, provide prenatal care, and give labor-inducing drugs. In the case of emergencies, they are also trained to perform an episiotomy or resuscitate infants. It is important to note that from a medical and emergency standpoint, a midwife is more capable to provide advice and assistance compared to a doula.
How Much Does Each One Cost?
In general, the costs of both a doula and a midwife will vary depending on the location and the specific provider. Their services will be more expensive in larger cities compared to other areas. However, doulas will typically cost less compared to midwives because of the more relaxed standards and less formal training.
Do I Really Need Both?
The bottom line when it comes to doulas and midwives is that it will be a personal choice for the mother. You can choose to have one or both during your home birth if you can afford it. It will all depend on what kind of services you need. If you already have a strong support system in the form of family and friends, you will probably get along just fine with having just a midwife to provide medical services. However, if you need additional emotional support and assistance with taking care of the baby after the birth, you can opt to have a doula who will function as both a birth and postpartum doula, in addition to having a midwife.