Doulas Are Like Midwives



It’s a super common assumption anytime I tell someone I’m a doula. They’re either confused and curious, or they say, “So, like a midwife?” (Channeling last week’s post, here.) My initial reaction used to be immediate denial and clarification—of course we aren’t like midwives! We don’t catch babies!


But then I started thinking about it, and maybe people would have an easier time understanding what we do if we did draw a comparison between the two roles. Doulas are like midwives—here’s how:



It’s true! We are with women in one of the most intimate, laboring experiences of their lives (hah, see what I did there?), often alongside midwives themselves. We don’t catch babies or perform cervical checks or any of the other strictly-medical amazingness that the midwives manage, but we’re there, in the thick of it, holding our clients’ hands and helping them navigate the process that is childbirth.


In fact, doulas working alongside midwives is a pretty sweet combination. While midwives are listening to fetal heart tones or performing cervical checks or even catching the baby, doulas can remain totally present with their clients, talking them through whatever is happening and providing physical support with their free hands.



We aren’t medically trained, and we certainly don’t know everything that midwives do when it comes to the birth process, but we do have experience and knowledge extending beyond your average person.


Like midwives, doulas are trained to work in the birth environment. Part of their job is knowing enough about labor and childbirth in order to effectively support clients by providing accurate (and comforting) information; utilizing appropriate (and comforting) physical touch; and facilitating and encouraging communication and collaboration between clients and their medical providers (such as—you guessed it—midwives!).



That’s right! We support you throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Just has you have prenatal appointments with your midwife, so you will also have prenatal appointments with your labor doula. Only, instead of checking your weight, listening to heartbeats, or trying to figure out baby’s position, we’ll be checking your feelings, listening to your concerns, and helping you as you figure out your position in the myriad of choices that accompany this whole birth and parenting gig.


When the big day finally comes and you finally call us to join you, we will be there to support you as you birth your baby, whenever and however that happens. And then, like midwives, we will followup with you postpartum, too—only our focus will be on how you, your baby, and your whole family are adjusting to this incredible (and perhaps a little hectic) new life together.


The truth is, there are a lot of differences between doulas and midwives, the scope of their practice being the biggest divider (learn more about what doulas do here). But there are also a lot of similarities between the two, especially when you get to the heart of the work, which is caring for new and expectant mothers (and fathers) while on their paths to parenthood.