Doulas and Midwives
A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth. Many women are choosing to work with a doula to help them prepare for their birth, to help with labor and delivery, and to help at home after the baby has arrived.
Working with a doula can be comforting to expectant families because the doula understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor. Also, the doula facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and clinical careproviders. The acceptance of doulas in maternity care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved physical outcomes and emotional well-being of mothers and infants.
A midwife provides prenatal care, delivery of the baby, care of the mother post-partum, and newborn care. The midwife is responsible for the safety of mother and baby. Some kinds of midwives also provide family planning, annual exams, and other kinds of well-woman gynecology.
The difference between a midwife and a doula is that the doula is responsible for emotional support and education, and not for medical care. A doula, for example, would not listen to the baby's heart or do a vaginal exam on the mother.
Both doula and midwife care have been shown to improve outcomes for mother and baby.