Doctors, Doulas, and Midwives - What's the Difference?

Doctors, Doulas, and Midwives – What’s the Difference?

Birth professionals share your goal of bringing your baby into the world safely. As doulas, we believe the best way to ensure that happens is for mothers and birthers to stay comfortable and informed. Along with understanding your body and the process of labor and birth, it's important to know the roles of the professionals who may be on your birth team. 

Doctors vs. midwives

Doctors and midwives are medical providers who attend births. Physician-Surgeons who specialize in pregnancy and birth are called obstetricians, or OBs. They can perform surgeries, like caesarian sections and circumcisions. OBs are most appropriate for high-risk pregnancies. At the hospital they are sometimes attending to many patients at once. By choosing an OB as your care provider, you should expect most of your face-to-face time in labor to be with a labor and delivery nurse rather than the doctor.

Midwives are medical care professionals specialized by education, training and certification in pregnancy, delivery and prenatal care. Midwives offer medical care to most of the births in the world performing vaginal exams, checking blood pressure and administering many medications.  They do not perform surgery. Where you might think of OBs as experts in the complications that may arise during pregnancy, labor, and birth, you can think of midwives as experts in normal, healthy pregnancies and births. They’re less likely to use interventions, tend to give more one-on-one support, and can attend births in and outside of hospitals, like home at home or in a birthing center. 

Midwives vs. doulas

Doulas can be like coaches for your labor and birth. We have a reputation for taking a more holistic outlook to labor and birth, incorporating the whole person, the whole family. But doulas are not health care providers. Where doctors and midwives concern themselves with keeping you and your baby healthy, your doula focuses specifically on your preferences, your confidence and comfort. We can remind you of pain management techniques, give you a massage, or bring you ice, intuit that you'd relax with music, or suggest a birthing ball to encourage an efficient decent of the baby.

Whether you opt for a doctor or midwife; a hospital birth, home birth, or birthing center; an epidural or natural techniques for pain management – your doula will be there to support you every step of the way.