DOULAS & MIDWIVES;
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

What is a Doula?

A birth sister, commonly known as a doula (pronounced do’-la), is a professional birth worker who provides non-medical support to mothers and families. Birth sisters/doulas are trained and certified to assist mothers. A birth sister provides non-bias evidence-based information, techniques, support, and resources to aid a mom through pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period. They can also provide tools to help the mother advocate for herself and her baby. It is important to note that doulas are not medical professionals and thus do not offer any medical advice or diagnosis.


Research shows that having a birth sister/doula during your birth reduces the need for medical intervention, reduces the requests for pain medication and epidurals, and reduces the incidence of cesareans.

What is a Midwife?

A midwife is a trained health professional that assists women during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and during the postpartum period. In the U.S, there are generally three types of midwives: Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), Traditional Midwives (TM), and Certified Nurse-Midwives. All midwives generally work with low-risk clients and strive to have moms birth in the most natural way possible with little to no intervention. 

 

Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) generally assist mothers who birth in a birthing center or in their home. In these settings, pain medication is generally not administered. CPMs are skilled professionals who have hands-on training and experience through formal didactic instruction, self-study, and apprenticeship. Some CPMs get their training through a university, while others choose a less formal self-study route. Regardless of the education path, all CPMs meet the standards of certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives and are qualified to administer the midwifery model of care.

 

Traditional Midwives (TM) generally assist women who are planning to birth at home. They are skilled in the practice of traditional and ancestral midwifery. Training for TMs is wide and varied and includes various amounts of formal didactic instruction, self-study, and apprenticeship. Most TMs have learned through extensive apprenticeship.

 

Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) generally have a master's or doctorate degree in nursing with a concentration and focus on midwifery and women’s health. CNMs are trained to perform routine gynecological exams and provide prenatal care. They can be the primary care provider for women during labor, birth, and throughout their lifespan. CNMs have extensive formal clinical and medical training. While they generally work in a hospital setting, some work in birth centers and support women with home birth. All CNMs meet the standards put forth by the American College of Nurse Midwives

 

Sources:

American College of Nurse Midwives. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.midwife.org

McGrath, S. K. and Kennell, J. H. (2008). A randomized controlled trial of continuous 

labor support for middle-class couples: effect on Cesarean delivery rates. Birth 2008; 25:3. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-536X.2008.00221.x.

Midwives Alliance of North America. (2020). Types of midwives. Retrieved from 

https://mana.org/about-midwives/types-of-midwife

 

Midwives Alliance of North America. (2020). What is a midwife? Retrieved from 

https://mana.org/about-midwives/what-is-a-midwife

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