Giving birth is a wonderful time for most families.  It is a time of closeness and bonding with newborns. It is natural to think about hiring midwives or doulas to assist in this special time.  Here is a breakdown of the differences.


A midwife is essentially a nurse who is certified in prenatal care and birth and would traditionally take the place of a doctor.  Midwives are required to have a Bachelor degree in most states and attend extensive training in assessment, gynecological exams, prescribing medication, labor management, and counseling.  Midwives are licensed and attend rigorous training.


A doula provides more intangible support during birth to help you prepare for birth and delivery, including being there with you during the delivery.  They receive less formal training and the training varies from state to state.  Medicare is starting to recognize doula’s as a valuable asset to the birthing team, however, it is only approved in ten states.  The ten states that doula’s are reimbursed in do require license and certification.  You can see the list here.

So, should you hire one or both? It depends on the type of birthing experience you are seeking. Many moms-to-be seek the care of a midwife to have more freedom of choice during birth and less intervention.

Similarly, moms-to-be hire doulas when they want to have a natural, drug-free birth. Many doulas also provide post-natal care to help aid in a speedier recovery and better bonding with babies.

We also recommend including a doctor in your birthing plan.  It is wonderful to give birth in a stress-free environment, however, emergencies happen and, in the event, something is not right, having a plan that includes a possible backup hospital admission is a good idea.  Leave nothing to chance.


ACNM – become a midwife. American College of Nurse-Midwives. (n.d.).