What Is The Difference Between A Doula and a Midwife?

Offering North America’s most comprehensive Doula training program, we are often asked the question what is the difference between a Doula and a Midwife.

Midwives are trained medical professionals who offer primary maternity care to pregnant mothers and their babies from early pregnancy until about 6 weeks postpartum. Midwives are able to work in private practice, at a clinic, or even as an adjunct to a hospital. Their medical training permits them to screen patients for health concerns, to prescribe appropriate medications, and to deliver babies in hospitals or in mothers’ homes.

In British Columbia Midwives are registered with and regulated according to the BC Health Professions Act, the Midwives Regulation, and the College of Midwives of British Columbia.

A Doula is a person who assists women before, during and after labour by providing emotional and physical support and information to both the labouring mother and her family. Emotional support may include encouragement, recommendations and assisting in decision-making. Physical support may include massage, nutritional guidance and postural recommendations.

In Canada and the United States, Doulas are not governed by any professional practitioner body, and Doula care is not covered under social healthcare in Canada. Numerous organizations provide certifications for Doulas, but none of these certifications is necessary for someone to serve as a Doula. There are many training programs that vary greatly in length: from 16 to 27 hours for entry-level training to 270 hours, which is the length of Pacific Rim College’s Holistic Doula Certificate program that is offered in both Victoria and Vancouver. This program includes the study of anatomy and physiology, herbal medicines, homeopathy, Chinese relaxation techniques, massage therapies and more. Upon successful program completion, graduates are able to practice as Doulas in prenatal, birth, or postpartum specialties, independently or as part of a team.

Although their scope of practice differs greatly, Midwives and Doulas commonly provide service alongside each other during delivery, which is to the benefit of moms and babies. You can search for Doulas and Midwives in your area in an online practitioner directory.