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. That means understanding not just your body and the process of labor and birth, but also the roles of the professionals who may be on your birth team. 

Doctors vs. midwives

Doctors and midwives are medical providers who attend births. Doctors who specialize in pregnancy and birth are called obstetricians, or OBs. Unlike midwives, they can perform surgeries, like caesarian sections and circumcisions. OBs sometimes handle many complications for multiple patients at once. So, if you choose an OB as your care provider, you’ll get more of direct support throughout the whole process from nurses.

Like doctors, midwives are medical care providers. Unlike doctors, they haven’t been to medical school and don’t perform surgery. Instead, they pass an exam and maintain certification every five years. Many midwives are also nurses. 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 typical or healthy pregnancies and births. They’re less likely to use interventions, tend to give more one-on-one support, and can attend births outside of hospitals, like home births. 

Midwives vs. doulas

Midwives and doulas both have a reputation for taking a holistic approach to labor and birth. But there’s one key difference – doulas are not health care providers. We’re more like coaches for your labor and birth. Where doctors and midwives concern themselves with keeping you and your baby healthy, your doula focuses specifically on your preference and comfort. We might remind you of pain management techniques, give you a massage, or bring you things you ask for like ice, music, a birthing ball.

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