What's the difference between a doula and a midwife? And do I need one?

These days there’s no end to the friends and neighbors you can have at your side during the birthing experience, but if you’re looking for an advocate or a coach to get you through (often without medical intervention), you’ll usually call upon a doula or midwife. Here are the differences between the two.

According to The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), a nurse-midwife not only helps you make decisions around birthing, but she’ll also perform regular exams throughout labor. These badass women actually have advanced clinical nursing training with most holding a Master’s Degree in Nursing. Following birth, a midwife can teach you to breastfeed and provide postpartum care to both you and babe. 

Like nurse-midwives, doulas have tons of experience in the delivery room, but they specialize in giving you emotional and physical support throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery and creating an ideal birthing experience, according to DONA International. After the delivery, a postpartum doula can provide you with a number of services, from companionship to lactation and infant help, to even cooking for you and assisting you with household tasks. While doulas have received training in the birthing process, they do not perform clinical or medical services. Instead they focus on your emotional and physical needs to create an awesome environment in which to give birth.