Doula Vs Midwife: Which Should You Choose?


Choosing someone to help you through labor and delivery is not a decision to be taken lightly. Most pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive are already familiar with how their doctor can help them through their pregnancy and childbirth, but not all women are familiar with how a midwife or doula can help.

While both offer similar services, midwives and doulas are very different from one another. Understanding the difference between a doula and midwife can help you make an informed decision when choosing someone to help you through your pregnancy.

What is A Midwife?

A midwife is a medical professional. Extensive education, training and supervised clinical experience is required in order to become a midwife.

  • Education and training

Midwives may or may not hold a degree, but each one will be certified by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC). Once this certification is obtained, midwives can work in public, private or group practices. Some may work in hospitals, local clinics, in private practices, or they may work for themselves.

  • Duties and responsibilities

A midwife will perform routine exams throughout the course of the pregnancy, and help you make informed decisions about your birthing plan. This includes whether or not you want to use anesthesia, and the possible complications that could arise as a result.

Midwives do have the authority to prescribe some medications. They can also aid in the delivery process and perform gynecological exams. The scope of what a midwife can and cannot do will vary from state to state.

After childbirth, a midwife will teach you how to breastfeed and provide postpartum care to you and your newborn if required. Some midwives will even show new moms how to soothe their newborns and offerz recommendations on how to cope with all the new changes you and your partner will be experiencing.

  • Why choose a midwife?

Parents often choose midwives if they’re looking for intimate care during their pregnancy. There are also some couples that choose to birth at home or at a midwifery clinic, and midwives can help make this a reality.

What is Doula?

The doula is looking at the new mom and new baby.

A doula serves as a pregnant woman’s strongest ally and supporter. Doulas will guide moms through pregnancy and labor, and also help provide intimate care to both the baby and mother.

There are two different types of doulas: postpartum doula and birth doula.

Each one offers their own unique services that will be explained during your consultation.

  • Education and training

Like midwives, restrictions on what doulas can and cannot do will vary from state to state. Doulas are certified, and must go through live births and training. However, they do not receive the same extent of training and clinical experience that midwives receive. Doulas are also unable to perform medical or clinical tasks like a midwife.

  • Duties and responsibilities

Moms get to know their doula early on in the pregnancy, and develop a friendship over the following nine months. In the delivery room, the doula’s main job is to be there for you by offering the emotional and physical support you need.

While you’re in labor, your doula may try different labor positions or use massage techniques to help ease your pain and get through the delivery. After delivery, your doula can aid you in caring for your newborn. Doulas may also help with healing after delivery and teach you how to breastfeed.

New born baby on a hand on black backdrop.

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Midwife or Doula: Which Should You Choose?

Whether you choose a midwife or a doula is your own personal preference. Many parents find that working with both a doula and a midwife is the best option. Midwives can provide medical expertise and perform clinical tasks, while doulas can offer the support that new moms need to get through the pregnancy and delivery process. Doulas act as a supportive friends, while midwives bring medical expertise to the table.

It’s important for you and your partner to sit down and discuss your wants and needs during the pregnancy. If you’re considering a birth at home or a midwifery clinic, a midwife may be your best option. While not as significant as the support and guidance you receive, it is also important to consider the cost of working with a midwife and/or doula.


  1. You do not have to choose between a midwife and a doula because they are actually performing very different roles. Your midwife is responsible for the health and safety of you and your fetus and will manage any difficulties with your labor as well as delivering your child. In New York, we prescribe medications and follow you for your gynecologic care as well. Doulas provide amazing emotional and physical support through pregnancy labor and postpartum but do not have the training or license to manage you medically, provide prenatal care etc.


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