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A midwife is a medical professional that can deliver babies and care for you during pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum.
A doula provides physical, emotional and informational support that focuses on your comfort and your entire family.
A doula and midwife can work together to create a memorable, loving birthing experience that is uniquely yours.
Today, there are more options than ever before for how and where you can deliver a baby and who you want on your birthing team. You can choose from:
- A doctor to deliver your little bundle of joy in a hospital or birthing center.
- A midwife to welcome your baby in a birth center or at home.
- A doula to be by your side during pregnancy, labor and delivery and postpartum.
- A combination of services offered by a doctor, midwife and doula.
Wading through these decisions can be overwhelming. It comes down to what your preferences and desires are for your birthing experience. There are no right or wrong choices – only what’s best for you and your family.
We’ve discussed before the role of each of these key players on your birthing team. Today, we’re diving into the special bond – and benefits – that can come when a midwife and doula join forces on your birthing team. Each of these roles brings unique experience and insight – and each has their own space to fill.
Read on to discover how a midwife and doula work together to create a magical, memorable, comfortable and safe experience for you, baby and your entire family.
Your midwife’s role
A midwife is a trained medical professional who is certified to provide healthcare for women. Midwives are most well-known for the care they provide during pregnancy, labor and delivery and after the birth of a baby. But they also offer general women’s services – from contraceptive counseling to managing menopausal symptoms. Midwives also care for newborns.
Parents who opt for a midwife may want fewer interventions during labor and delivery – such as a natural birth experience (physiologic birth) – or want to deliver at home or in a birthing center. They may also want the holistic approach to care that midwives offer for birth parents.
Midwives provide a broad range of pregnancy, labor and delivery and postnatal care, including:
- Prenatal exams
- Monitoring physical and mental health
- Assisting with birth plans
- Prescribing medication
- Ordering exams and tests
- Childbirth and newborn education
- Delivering your baby
- Providing breastfeeding support and education
Simply put, a midwife delivers collaborative care and puts you at the center – listening (and hearing) your preferences and ensuring you and baby are safe and healthy every step of the way.
A doula supports you and your family
A doula provides emotional, physical and informational support to you and your entire family. A doula cannot deliver a baby or provide medical care. Instead, doulas focus on helping you have the best birth experience possible. They will work alongside your nurse, doctors and, of course, a midwife.
“Doulas roll out the red carpet,” explains Rená Koerner, doula and OB Care Coordinator at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center. “We help expectant parents navigate through pregnancy, labor and postpartum with ease.”
A doula is there to encourage and support you and your partner however you need it, from offering emotional and physical comfort during delivery to supporting your partner’s physical health.
A doula can support you in a hospital, a birth center or in your own home. Providence offers different types of doulas so you can find the one that best aligns with your needs:
- Birth doulas support parents during labor and delivery. Your doula will meet with you three to four times before your expected delivery date to get a sense of what you want during labor and help you identify your birth preferences. A doula is there to encourage and support you and your partner however you need it, from offering emotional and physical comfort during delivery to supporting your partner’s physical health – like stepping in when they need to take a break to eat or just catch their breath.
- Postpartum doulas offer in-home support after you bring baby home. They help take care of families so families can take care of the baby. That can include light housekeeping, meal prep or breastfeeding encouragement.
Doulas and midwives: A dream team
Doulas and midwives have very different focuses during your birthing experience – from pregnancy to postnatal care. A midwife will perform all your medical care while a doula’s primary concern is keeping you and your partner comfortable, confident and emotionally supported.
As a midwife is attending to your physical health during labor and delivery, a doula is there to provide encouragement, reassurance and offer practical advice on how to improve your comfort.
Here’s how a partnership between a doula and midwife may look for your family:
- As a midwife is attending to your physical health during labor and delivery, a doula is there to provide encouragement, reassurance and offer practical advice on how to improve your comfort – physically and emotionally. That may include practicing breathing exercises or stepping in for your partner so they can go to the restroom or get a bite to eat. A doula will be there throughout your entire labor and delivery, while a midwife may only monitor you occasionally and be present for the birth of baby.
- A midwife provides all your medical prenatal, birthing and postnatal care. A doula can help you walk through care options, decipher medical information and home in on what’s important to you during this experience.
- A midwife and doula will work together with you to create a holistic birthing preference that reflects your wishes and desire. They can both help you find ways to put your and baby’s safety first while still honoring your preferences.
- A midwife provides medical care and emotional support after delivery. A doula can serve as an extra set of hands and shoulder to lean on during the first few weeks you’re home with baby.
Build your birthing team
If you’re thinking about having children, or are currently expecting a baby, you can find out more about hospital locations, services, classes and tours at a location near you through our provider directory.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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