More about doulas and midwives

September 3rd, 2009

Is a doula the same thing as a midwife?

Doulas and midwives are not the same thing, although they are usually supportive of each other. Doulas are trained labor support professionals, but they do not perform medical tasks such as taking blood pressure, doing cervical exams, or monitoring the baby’s heartbeat. Midwives, on the other hand, are medically trained to monitor the mother’s and baby’s health during labor, birth, and postpartum, and they are qualified to intervene in the birth itself if necessary. They carry equipment and medications with them if they attend homebirths, and in the hospital, they are able to provide any care a hospital would normally offer, with the exception of delivering a baby via cesarean section. Doulas practice in all birth environments — hospital, birth center, and home — as do midwives. Midwives, however, are usually required to have certain credentials in order to practice in a hospital. While doulas and midwives tend to share some of the same philosophies about birth, they have differing amounts of responsibility for the healthy outcome of a birth.

Learn more about doulas and midwives

DONA, International, the premier doula association in the world
Midwifery Today, the online version of this fabulous midwifery journal