Doula vs. Midwife: How to choose

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If you are just entering your pregnancy years, you may be curious about your provider options.

There is so much info out there, it’s hard to figure out what’s best for you. 

A topic we see a lot is the doula vs midwife debate. 

You may have even been wondering if you might need a midwife or doula – maybe both!

What are the differences between a doula and a midwife, anyway?

That – is an excellent question! If you’re new to these terms, they might be a little confusing. Let’s jump in!



What Is a Doula?

If you’ve never heard the word doula before – think of it like your own personal advocate.

They provide support throughout pregnancy in the form of emotional support and help you communicate your wants and needs to the medical staff.

In simple terms – they’re available for emotional support and to stand up for you.


Responsibilities of a Doula

Doulas are amazing in all that do, honestly. They are a rockstar member of a birth team as they do things such as:

  • Provide emotional and physical support
  • Help you research your birth choices and resources
  • Comfort you with massages, relaxation breathing exercises, and suggesting positions
  • Accommodate mom’s wishes for her birthing environment
  • Encourage mom to communicate with her doctor regarding procedures, interventions, and other medical decisions for her and her baby
  • Help the father or birth partner support mom


Why You Might Need a Doula

If you are looking for some extra support, a doula is a FANTASTIC option for you!! They really help normalize the experience, answer any question possible you have, and help you understand how your body is changing.

They also empower mothers throughout their pregnancy to make informed decisions, know their rights, and how to communicate with their doctor.

They also help make sure their needs are being met.

That is an incredible resource to have and I DEFINITELY recommend choosing a doula if you have any doubts about your pregnancy!

While a doula can’t guarantee the perfect birth, having one can greatly increase the quality of your birthing experience.

Being empowered, educated, and supported can help you have a better birth.


Different Types of Doulas

It’s also good to know that there are doulas that specialize in different needs. There are doulas who are awesome at supporting you through birth. 

There are also postpartum doulas. These doulas help support your in your role as a new mom. 

The postpartum period is no joke, and can be really difficult for many new moms.

A doula can help you keep your sanity, allow you to get more rest and more time to bond with your baby, and help you manage the roller coaster of emotions that comes with the hormone changes.


What Is a Midwife?

Many of us have heard the term midwife at one time or another. They are licensed medical professionals and considered experts with normal pregnancies.

You could also say they are more in tune with natural pregnancies and birth.

They assist with birth in both a hospitalized setting as well as home birthing.


Responsibilities of a Midwife

Midwives assist with the medical side of pregnancies and birth. This includes things such as:

  • Providing pregnancy care by monitoring mom and baby
  • Counsel and educate mom throughout her pregnancy
  • Provide individualized prenatal care
  • Assist throughout labor and delivery
  • Provide follow-up care for mom and baby
  • Why you might need a midwife

If you are seeking out a natural birth without interventions, it might be a good idea to hire a midwife.

They also tend to be more hands on than an OBGYN and a great for home births. They’re a perfect option for a more personal experience, too.

That said… if you have any complications with pregnancy, they may not be the best choice.

If you’re high risk, carrying multiples, or want/need a C-section, they may not be the best option for you.


Key Differences Between a Doula and Midwife

Now, if you’re anything like me… you might skip to the bottom to see the differences between a midwife and a doula.

I can’t blame you though – who has time to read the whole thing?! 😉

The biggest takeaway is this – doulas are for the emotional support side of things whereas a midwife is best for medical care.

Some midwives are also doulas, too! You just need to check for what is available in your area.


A doula is best suited for emotional support

When you hire a doula, they will likely mostly provide the emotional support.

They’re the ones that you can call in the middle of the night with your “must know right now” questions.

Or if you need additional resources, suggestions for your birthing environment, or want to know exactly what to ask your doctor regarding an upcoming medical procedure.

They are ROCKSTARS with supporting you in the process of pregnancy and childbirth.


A midwife is best suited for medical support

A doula is for the emotional support, but a midwife is there for medical support.

They’re a great alternative to OBGYNs – especially if you’re trying for a natural birth or home birth.

They are the ones that provide care to you and your baby, assist throughout pregnancy and delivery, and follow-up after birth.


How to Choose Between a Midwife and a Doula

Well, you really should have a medical provider at your birth. So you need to have a midwife or an OBGYN. 

The thing about midwives and doulas, they are a great team together! 

Midwives have more of a personal touch than your standard OBGYN and will be around more in the hospital or at home.

They help with all the medical care of giving birth. Midwives used to be the only option, after all!

But it’s also important to have emotional support – which is what a doula can provide.

They empower you, educate you, advocate for you, and support you.

They help you get the birth that you really want and make sure you’re making the best choices for you and your baby.

So if you’re still wondering if you should choose a doula or midwife – opt for both. They truly make an amazing pair.


P.S. Make sure to check out our Pregnancy Planner! Is made specifically for expecting mamas!


Doulas vs midwives


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