What is the Difference Between Doulas and Midwives?

What is the difference between doulas and midwives? OKC Doula Jenni Jenkins
Oftentimes, when I tell someone that I am a doula they confuse the term for midwife and ask if I catch babies for a living. While I would like to one day be a midwife, the two occupations are very different. Let me explain the differences!

What are the differences between doulas and midwives?

What is a Birth Doula?

A birth doula is a childbirth coach and pregnancy advisor all in one. We provide mental, physical, and emotional support to birthing people and their partner throughout pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. 

The biggest difference you are going to find between a midwife and a doula is that doulas are NOT medically trained. This means a doula is NOT trained in or responsible for medical tasks such as checking cervix dilation, prescribing medications, or catching babies. Doulas are not a substitute for a medical professional such as a Midwife or OBGYN. 

What are a doula’s strengths?

A doula’s strengths are in advocacy for their clients and nonmedical coping techniques. These techniques can range from birth position changes, proper birth ball use, aromatherapy, massage, supporting a birthing person’s partner, holding space, performing counter pressure during contractions, and more. Furthermore, a doula can provide support in hospitals, home births, and birthing centers but midwives may face certain limitations when it comes to different birthplaces. 

How does a Doula Become Certified? 

Many doulas train through one or more programs such as Birth Arts International or ICEA, but in most states, a doula does not have to be certified in order to provide support to clients. As a doula myself, I trained with Birth Arts International at first and later on with StillBirth Day to gain additional certifications as a Bereavement and Adoption Doula. 

What is a Midwife?

A midwife is a medically trained professional who is responsible for the health and safety of their clients. They respect the natural order of birth and understand that it is not a medical emergency but are trained to be able to recognize when intervention is necessary. 

How are Midwives trained? 

In order to care for clients, a midwife undergoes specialized training and supervised clinical training. Their training may differ based on what type of midwife they are. There are Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), Certified Midwives (CM), and Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM)  Midwives also provide care to women beyond pregnancy and birth! 

Are Midwives only for Pregnancy and birth?

Midwives are not just for pregnancy and birth either! They can also provide well-woman care and contraception counseling for birthing people in their community. 

The Similarities Between a Doula and a Midwife

Both doulas and midwives are passionate about birthing people receiving ‘mother-centered’ care. The myriad of skills between a doula and a midwife combined can make a powerful birthing team for you during your labor and birth experience. Doulas and midwives are both trained in specialized skill sets that benefit a birthing person and her family.

Now you know that a doula and a midwife are different types of professionals and can provide care in different ways. 
Want to Learn more about what a doula does? Click Here!

OKC Birth Doula Jenni Jenkins

Jenni Jenkins – Sekine is an Oklahoma City Bereavement, Birth, & Postpartum doula and Child Birth Educator who serves her Central Oklahoma  community.   She is also a midwifery assistant with Holistic Birthing Services and began her journey as a student midwife with the Midwives College of Utah in 2022. 

Jenni is also the creator & facilitator of the Kaleidoscope OKC LGBTQ Family Support Group & the Nurture Oklahoma Live Interview Series.

To learn more about Jenni, please click here.