Midwives Versus Doulas: Everything You Need to Know
April 27, 2019
In recent years, there has been an increase in the United States in the number of midwives and doulas attending births.1 More and more women are opting for home births or seeking drug-free, natural childbirths. However, there is still a certain amount of confusion and uncertainty about the roles and capabilities of midwives and doulas. In this post, we’ll explore some of the key similarities and differences between midwives and doulas, and look at the training and certification required to fulfill these important roles.
What is a Midwife?
A midwife is a trained professional who assists mothers before, during and after a birth. Under the supervision of a midwife, a birth can take place at home, at a birthing center or in a hospital. Most women who choose to use a midwife may seek to give birth with less medical intervention than typically offered in a traditional hospital setting. This may mean going without common medical procedures and practices associated with childbirth, such as fetal monitoring and the induction of pregnancy.2 However, a midwife is a trained and certified medical professional who is capable of administering medicine was as well as providing direct health care support during all stages of the pregnancy.
Midwife training and educational programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). There are two types of certifications: Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) and Certified Midwives (CM).2 In August 2017, the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) reported that there were 11,826 CNMs and 101 CMs practicing in the United States.2 CNMs have prescription-writing authority in all 50 states and U.S. territories, while CMs are only authorized to provide health care in a handful of jurisdictions.2 The CM program began in 1996 and has not yet reached full recognition in the United States.2
What is a Doula?
A doula is a non-medical specialist who provides physical, informational and emotional support during all stages of a pregnancy and post-pregnancy.3 A doula is a trained professional, but does not have the legal authority to write prescriptions and perform advanced medical care.3 However, a doula can provide physical and emotional support, partner assistance, and information about all phases of the pregnancy, birth and postpartum periods. A doula can even assist with day-to-day tasks such as nutrition and taking care of other family members who are involved in this wonderful time of change.
Doulas can be trained and certified through a variety of education and accrediting bodies, such as DONA International.3 A certified doula receives thorough classroom training coupled with hands-on experience in understanding all aspects of the pregnancy, and how to advocate on behalf of other women during the process.3 Many doula training and accreditation agencies require a certain amount of continuing education throughout the course of their careers to remain certified. Some of the preferred credentials to look out for are CD (certified doula), PCD (postpartum certified doula), AdvC (advanced certified doula), or AdvPCD (advanced postpartum certified doula).3
Preparing for Pregnancy
These days, new mothers have more choices when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Between midwives, doulas and traditional hospital births, women can find the resources that fit their specific birth plan and needs. But all pregnancy plans should include a daily prenatal vitamin. When it comes to choosing the right nutritional supplement, consider Prenate® Vitamin Family, which has been trusted for more than 30 years to deliver the highest quality nutritional supplements for pregnant mothers. Prenate® Vitamin Family offers a line of prescription nutritional supplements designed for all stages of pregnancy, from preconception through postpartum. Prenate® vitamins are formulated with the latest recommendations from obstetric and pediatric organizations in mind. Plus, nutrient forms are selected for their tolerability and absorbability. Talk with your doctor about whether a prescription prenatal vitamin from the Prenate® Vitamin Family may be right for you.