What is the Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife?

Most states do not draw a clear distinction between the roles of a doula and those of a midwife. The thing is, a doula and a midwife are completely different professionals with unique roles. However, both work in the same department and environment; assisting in childbirth and the mother’s reproductive health.

A Doula at a Glance

A doula’s primary focus is on the mother, not both. They help her prepare a birth plan. Doulas provide emotional and physical support to an expectant woman. The support can also be in the form of giving her information on childbirth. Once, the midwife is done delivering the baby, a doula steps in to offer aftercare services to the mother.

Duties performed by doulas require them to have in-depth knowledge of different personalities. A doula can be compared to a woman partner for the expectant mother. It is what puts them in a position to adequately cater to the needs of every expectant mother. Although most doulas specialize in providing care during and after childbirth, some are trained in antepartum services as well.

A Midwife at a Glance

Different states have unique definitions of the midwife’s role in the delivery process. Some states allow midwives to perform a gynecological examination while others don’t. Latter states give a midwife authorization to perform things like pap smears, breast and pelvic exams. But generally, a midwife is a healthcare professional charged with ensuring successful and safe childbirth.

Key Differences between a Doula and a Midwife

A doula provides support for the mother before, during, and after birth. They don’t get involved in the actual childbirth process. However, they can provide post-delivery services. The midwife, on the other hand, exclusively helps in childbirth. Offering gynecological examination, labor, and delivery care, birth control counseling, and prescriptions are the main roles of a midwife.

To summarize the differences, note the following:

  • A doula gives services that are not necessarily related to childbirth. The midwife’s primary and only role is to take care of labor and delivery.
  • A midwife is only trained on the process of child delivery; for the mother and baby. A doula, on the other hand, is trained on the general needs of the mother only. For this reason, a doula cannot be used as a substitute for the midwife. Technically, a doula may or may not be present during childbirth, but the midwife must be there.

 What Are the Costs of Acquiring a Doula or Midwife?

Both doula and midwife cost different amounts depending on the state’s rates. In most cases, a doula will charge you depending on your geographical location relative to yours. The charges will also depend on the number of visits and the time spent. Doulas can charge from $1000 in major cities and much less in smaller ones.

Most midwife costs are covered by insurance policies. However, the rate can range from $2000 to $5000 in bigger cities. The location also affects midwife fees, just like in the case of a doula. The amount charged for the services of a midwife covers all prenatal visits and delivery. It also includes postpartum visits in most cases.

Do I Have to Choose Between a Doula and a Midwife?

It is advisable to have both. Their roles are unique and equally important. Furthermore, they are both professionals with specific roles to play in the birth process. Using a doula in place of a midwife and vice versa is the biggest mistake you can make. There are certain roles that a doula cannot play in the delicate childbirth process. The same applies to the midwife; they are trained to specifically manage and oversee the birth process. If you can’t have them both, at least let the midwife plays their role and the doula theirs.


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