We spoke to a doula and a midwife, both passionate about assisting women to achieve normal, safe, healthy births. They want expectant parents to ignore the misconceptions that they only assist un-medicated and home births—and that they’re earthy hippies. Both partner with women, listening to their needs, providing info, and guiding them toward their ideal birth plan. Still, their roles are not the same. Here’s the difference.
Michelle Zamudio is a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) at The Christ Hospital Family Medical Associates. Zamudio says many women don’t realize they can choose a midwife or family physician to deliver their babies instead of an obstetrician.
Delivery: A midwife is the healthcare provider leading the birth team, managing labor, and making medical decisions, but prescribing medication or interventions only as needed. If an emergency procedure is required, your hospital has an obstetrician available 24/7.
Why hire a midwife? Perhaps you want a gentler birth experience, such as dim lights or water labor. Some women, like victims of trauma, have labor fears or need extra emotional support. Midwives can have a more caring, compassionate approach.
Erica Konya is a certified labor doula (CLD) and owner of Nurture, LLC. According to Konya, a doula’s job is to provide physical, emotional, and informational support throughout your pregnancy and labor.
Delivery: She provides nonmedical care and is your constant companion—like having an experienced, trained girlfriend with you. Her forte is providing comfort measures such as massage, position changes, and breathing and relaxation techniques. She plays a supportive role on the team, facilitating communication with your healthcare provider.
Why hire a doula? Studies show women have shorter labor and fewer complications, interventions, and pain meds when they have a doula. Because the doula is there to focus on your support, it also allows your partner to relax and enjoy the experience with you.
Originally published in Baby Guide 2014