You are currently viewing What’s The Difference Between Doulas And Midwives?
Photo by Rebekah Vos on Unsplash

What’s The Difference Between Doulas And Midwives?

When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, it’s important to have the right support system in place. Two primary figures in this journey are doulas and midwives. While both play important roles, they serve distinct functions, tailored to the needs of expecting mothers.

Training and Education

Doula Training

Doulas undergo training to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to expectant mothers. Their training often focuses on comfort measures during labour, breastfeeding support, and postpartum care.

Midwife Training

Midwives are healthcare professionals who undergo extensive medical training, including obstetrics, gynecology, and childbirth assistance. They are qualified to provide medical care throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

Scope of Practice

Role of a Doula

Doulas primarily offer non-medical support during childbirth. They focus on emotional support, advocating for the mother’s preferences, and providing comfort measures during labour.

Role of a Midwife

Midwives have a broader scope of practice, including medical care. They conduct prenatal check-ups, monitor foetal health, assist with childbirth, and provide postpartum care for both the mother and newborn.

Support Provided

Emotional Support by Doulas

Doulas offer continuous emotional support throughout labour and delivery. They provide encouragement, reassurance, and comfort to help mothers navigate the birthing process.

Medical Support by Midwives

Midwives provide medical support, including monitoring vital signs, administering pain relief, and ensuring the safety of both the mother and baby during childbirth.

Care Settings

Doula Services

Doulas can offer support in various birth settings, including hospitals, birth centres, and home births. They adapt their approach based on the mother’s preferences and the chosen birth environment.

Midwifery Care

Midwives provide care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, birth centres, and home births. They collaborate with other healthcare providers to ensure comprehensive and personalised care for each mother.

Relationship with the Mother

Doula-Mother Relationship

Doulas foster a close relationship with the mother, offering personalised support and advocating for her preferences throughout the childbirth journey.

Midwife-Mother Relationship

Midwives develop a trusting relationship with the mother, providing comprehensive care, guidance, and medical expertise during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

Legal Responsibilities

Legal Status of Doulas

Doulas typically do not have medical credentials and operate within the scope of non-medical support.

Legal Status of Midwives

Midwives are licensed healthcare professionals regulated by specific guidelines and standards of practice. They have legal responsibilities to uphold patient safety and provide evidence-based care.


Doula Fees

Doulas typically charge a fee for their services, which may vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the extent of support provided.

Midwifery Fees

Midwifery care is covered by the hospital settings and therefore free of charge in the UK.

Birth Settings

Doula Involvement in Different Settings

Doulas can provide support in various birth settings, including hospitals, birthing centres, and home births. They adapt their approach to meet the needs and preferences of the mother.

Midwifery Care Settings

Midwives practice in different settings, including hospitals, birthing centres, and home births. They collaborate with other healthcare providers to ensure safe and supportive birthing environments.

Postpartum Support

Doula’s Role Postpartum

Doulas offer postpartum support to mothers, including breastfeeding assistance, emotional support, and guidance on newborn care. They help ease the transition into parenthood and provide ongoing encouragement.

Midwife’s Role Postpartum

Midwives provide comprehensive postpartum care, including monitoring the mother’s recovery, assessing newborn health, and offering guidance on breastfeeding and infant care. They ensure that both mother and baby receive appropriate support during the postpartum period.

Advocacy and Empowerment

Doula’s Advocacy Role

Doulas advocate for the mother’s preferences and choices throughout the childbirth process. They empower mothers to make informed decisions and ensure that their voices are heard.

Midwife’s Empowerment Approach

Midwives empower mothers by providing education, guidance, and support to help them make informed decisions about their care. They prioritise the mother’s autonomy and well-being throughout the pregnancy and childbirth journey.

Cultural Considerations

Cultural Sensitivity in Doula Services

Doulas recognise and respect cultural diversity, adapting their support approach to meet the unique needs and preferences of each mother and family.

Cultural Competence in Midwifery Care

Midwives undergo cultural competency training to provide inclusive and respectful care to individuals from diverse backgrounds. They strive to create culturally safe environments where all mothers feel valued and supported.

Collaboration with Healthcare Providers

Doula Collaboration

Doulas collaborate with healthcare providers, including obstetricians, midwives, and nurses, to ensure cohesive and supportive care for the mother and baby.

Midwife Collaboration

Midwives collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as obstetricians, pediatricians, and lactation consultants, to provide comprehensive and integrated care throughout the childbirth journey.

Decision-Making Authority

Decision Making with Doula Support

Doulas empower mothers to make informed decisions about their care by providing information, guidance, and emotional support. They respect the mother’s autonomy and preferences throughout the decision-making process.

Decision Making with Midwifery Care

Midwives involve mothers in decision-making about their care, providing information, guidance, and support to help them make informed choices that align with their values and preferences.

In summary, doulas and midwives play distinct but complementary roles in supporting mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. While doulas focus on emotional support and advocacy, midwives provide comprehensive medical care. Both professionals are invaluable members of the birthing team, ensuring that mothers receive personalised, holistic care that meets their individual needs and preferences.


Can I have both a doula and a midwife during childbirth?

Yes, many women choose to have both a doula and a midwife for additional support and guidance during labour and delivery.

Are doulas only for natural childbirth, or can they support women who choose medical interventions?

Doulas support women regardless of their birth preferences, including those who opt for medical interventions such as epidurals or caesarean sections.

Do midwives provide prenatal care, or do I still need to see an obstetrician?

Midwives provide comprehensive prenatal care, including routine check-ups, screenings, and education. In many cases, they can provide all necessary prenatal care without the need for an obstetrician.

Can doulas help with pain management during childbirth?

Yes, doulas are trained in various pain management techniques, including positioning, relaxation exercises, massage, and guided imagery, to help mothers cope with the discomforts of labour and childbirth.

Can I choose to have a home birth with a midwife, or do I have to deliver in a hospital?

Many midwives offer home birth options for low-risk pregnancies. However, it’s important to discuss your birth preferences and options with your midwife to ensure that you receive the most appropriate care for your needs.

Leave a Reply