Now more than ever before, expectant parents choose to use the services of midwives and doulas for prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum care. Each plays a personalized role in meeting the health and wellness needs of modern-day mothers-to-be with similar approaches to care, though midwife and doula services differ in a few ways.
What’s the difference between midwife and doula care? Essentially, midwives provide medical support, while doulas are less clinical and focus on providing physical and emotional support. Let’s take a closer look at these different roles to offer greater clarity on what you can expect from their models of care.
The Midwifery Model of Care
As a medically-qualified expert, a midwife provides clinical care to an expectant mother and her baby. The educated knowledge, training, or apprenticeship of these women-centered specialists is one of the characteristics of professional midwifery care. For this reason, certified professional midwives can provide total care from the beginning stages of early pregnancy to postpartum care after birth.
Unlike traditional obstetricians, a midwife’s primary focus is the individualized needs of a mother and her baby. A midwifery model of care commits to empowering women to make prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care decisions, leading to better health outcomes for low-risk pregnancies. Skilled midwives create experiences especially tailored to each woman’s preferences, personal wishes, and healthcare needs.
The Caring Nature of a Doula
The main difference between a midwife and a doula is their approach to care. Many doulas complete formal training before entering the field but do not have a degree or license to provide medical care. Instead, doulas provide vital physical and emotional support to expectant mothers during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
As an advocate for women-centered care, you’ll find doulas working alongside healthcare professionals. As a nonmedical assistant, you can think of a doula as a childbirth counselor or pregnancy advisor. Their nurturing encouragement and advice will help you understand what birth experience you desire and guide you through the process. Doulas can help laboring mothers achieve their birth plan and can provide massages, determine the best breathing techniques, and keep the atmosphere calm.
Is One or Both Right for You?
Both midwives and doulas are options to provide fundamental support for mothers-to-be, but their unique roles offer different values. A midwife and medical team focus on providing the best healthcare for mother and baby, while doulas offer personalized support, advice, and education to the mother every step of the way.
Expectant mothers can take full advantage of these health and wellness services during the labor and delivery process. With the spirit of connection, a doula can act as a joining link between you and the medical team. The choice is yours to determine if either midwifery or doula care will complement your preferred childbirth experience.