Midwives vs Doulas
To protect yourself and your baby against birth injuries, use caution when selecting a doula or midwife to assist you during labor and delivery.
Doulas and midwives provide important services that can assist mothers and their babies during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. They both can play a role in guiding you through this special time in your life, but it is important to be aware of their limitations. Not having the right people as part of your pregnancy team increases your risk of potentially serious birth injuries. Being aware of the key differences between doulas, midwives, and other medical providers can help to protect your own health and that of your little one.
The Differences Between Doulas and Midwives
In the past, expectant mothers primarily sought out obstetricians to provide for their needs during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In more recent years, options have expanded to give pregnant women greater control over the process and to meet their physical and emotional needs. Getting prenatal care and assistance when having a child from either a midwife or doula is now quite common. However, there are significant differences between them that you need to be aware of before selecting one or the other to be a part of your pregnancy team:
- Midwives: A midwife is a trained healthcare professional who likely is a nurse or has other state certification allowing her or him to assist women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. While midwives are often highly skilled, they generally do not have advanced medical equipment at their disposal or have the same hospital privileges that a doctor has. This means they are less able to handle more complex cases or to screen for issues in pregnant mothers or their developing infants, which could result in different types of birth injuries.
- Doulas: While many states offer certifications for trained doulas, these are not official healthcare professionals. Their role is primarily to provide physical and emotional support during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and with your infant after delivery. They can offer general help and information on pregnancy health, childbirth methods, and infant care, but only as a supplement to the medical care your doctor or midwife provides.
Choosing the Right Providers for Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery
Midwives have the training and skills to assist in normal pregnancies and deliveries while doulas can answer certain questions and provide the emotional support you need. However, in high-risk pregnancies and those in which there is a chance for labor and delivery complications, you need a licensed doctor by your side, as well. These situations include:
- Women who have previously had c-sections;
- Women pregnant with multiples;
- Those suffering from high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or other conditions;
- Those with a history of slow or difficult deliveries.
When Labor and Delivery Complications Occur
When pregnancy care providers misrepr