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Birth Doulas vs. Midwife: What’s the difference?

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

Doulas and Mid-wives are amazing and completely underutilized in America. Some of that underutilization may come from how people are often confused between the roles of a Birth Doula and a Mid-Wife. Commonly, people’s perceptions are that they are the same role, but they are quite different. It’s important to know the difference between the two professions, especially when considering hiring one for your pregnancy and delivery.

Here’s a quick run down on the difference between each…

Birth Doulas

Birth Doulas are like birth coaches. They believe birth is a monumental life experience that the

woman will remember forever. Doulas are trained, non-medical professionals who provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to moms before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest and most satisfying birth experience possible. Some Doulas are certified, depending on which organization they are trained through. They do not monitor the health status of a mother or baby, administer medications, diagnose or delivery babies.

Birth Doulas:

  • Help women in preparing for and carrying out their birth plans.

  • Are knowledgeable in a variety of comfort measures and positioning techniques that may help reduce pain, positioning of the baby, and encourage labor progression.

  • Provide emotional support to the women and their support partner.

  • Stays with the woman throughout the entire labor.

  • Facilitations communication between the laboring woman, her support person and her clinical care providers to make informed decisions.

  • ...and so much more!


Midwives are healthcare professionals that specialize in women’s health. Dependent on which state they practice in they must either be certified or licensed in order to practice. They follow the Midwives Model of care based on the belief that pregnancy and birth are a normal life process.

Midwives provide:

  • clinical support by monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of a mom during pregnancy

  • gynecological exams

  • family planning and preconception care

  • prenatal care

  • labor and delivery support

  • menopausal management

  • …just to name a few things!

Midwives do have one thing in common, and that is the respect and commitment to honoring a woman’s body and birth as beautiful, strong and natural. Often you will find the two professions work closely together in supporting a laboring woman and her support partner. They can be a dynamic force to help women achieve their birth plans, whatever those dreams may be.

Learn more about the differences between a midwife and birth doulas through Michigan Midwives Association and Dona International!


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