We get this question a lot! Midwives and doulas work together and each bring unique skill sets to their respective roles.
A midwife is an independent health care provider who specializes in prenatal and postpartum care, sexual and reproductive health, and of course, labor and birth! We have masters-level education, board certification and a state license to practice. We see patients in clinic for women’s health annual check-ups, for birth control management, as well as for prenatal and postpartum care. At our hospital practice we admit clients, manage their labors and help them deliver their babies safely. We also prescribe medications, insert intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, provide breastfeeding support and even circumcise newborns. We work in a team with our labor and delivery nurses and our OB/GYN surgeon colleagues, who are available 24/7. A midwife’s services are covered by insurance.
A doula can also be an important member of your labor team! A doula is someone who provides continuous support during labor and birth. Doula training varies and doulas do not make clinical decisions. Labor support could include many things: back-rubbing, hand-holding, suggesting position changes and providing verbal encouragement. A doula can stay with you while your partner or other support person needs a break. A doula usually has experience with other births and can also help explain things. A doula’s services may not be covered by insurance, though sometimes newer doulas are willing to take on clients for free or a reduced fee. In addition, you may choose a friend or family member to serve in a doula-like role.
Both midwifery-led care and doula support have been shown to improve birth outcomes and experiences. It’s a team approach and our clients and their families are always at the center of that team!