This is a very common question for us to receive! While midwives and doulas do have some overlapping characteristics, midwives and doulas have very different roles! First of all, a midwife is your healthcare provider. She is the one catching your baby at birth and providing you with the medical care necessary to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. An "apples-to-apples" comparison is comparing a midwife to an OB/GYN. An OB/GYN is a physician and surgeon who provides medical care to you and your baby during pregnancy and birth but often takes a very different approach to childbirith. While most midwives believe in a woman's inherent ability to deliver her baby, an OB/GYN often takes a more medical approach to childbirth.
Doulas are not healthcare providers. We do not do clinical assessments, diagnose any complications in your pregnancy, or prescribe any medications. We do not perform cervical checks or blood pressure checks. We are informational, physical, and emotional support for you and your partner throughout your pregnancy and birth journey.
Doulas build an intimate relationship with you during your pregnancy. We learn about how you want your birth to go and prepare you for the birth process. Once you are in labor we are by your side every step of the way offering continuous support. Doulas will labor with you at home until the midwife arrives for a homebirth, or you head to your birth site. Doulas are often with the mom for many hours before the midwife is needed. Nurture Me Doulas also follow-up with you after you baby is born and are a breastfeeding resource for you until 6 months post-partum. Doulas are a little like a best girl-friend who knows everything about birth. She has experienced birth herself, she has assisted many other laboring women, and she truly cares about you and your birth experience.
Midwives are very supportive during birth, but their priority in birth is the health and safety of you and your baby. She has many of the same clinical responsibilities as a labor and delivery nurse in the hospital but is also responsible for the delivery of your baby as well. While midwives will help you have your best birth, a doula complements the services of a midwife.
Doulas and midwives generally share the same positive beliefs and have aligning philosophies about pregnancy and the birth process. However as you can see, doulas and midwives have very distinct roles. Doulas do not replace a midwife, nurse, or doctor on your birth team, and no one can replace the benefits you receive from a doula. Your doula has a separate role designed to provide intentional and continuous encouragement and support to you and your partner during pregnancy and birth.
You can also check out this video explaining the difference between a doula and a midwife!