February 14, 2024 Healthy Living

How doulas and midwives differ

Every pregnant person’s birthing journey needs and preferences are different. That’s why it’s important to make a plan for who you want to include on your support team.

As you consider your options, you may wonder about the differences between doulas and midwives. Here are some key facts about both.

What is a doula?

A doula is a trained professional who provides you with emotional, physical, and informational support before, during, and after your pregnancy and childbirth.

What services do doulas provide?

A doula will typically help you prepare for the baby’s arrival by teaching you relaxation and breathing skills. They will make sure you understand the labor and delivery process, as well as help you develop a birth plan.

Doulas are not licensed to deliver babies or prescribe medication, but they can provide you with nonclinical support during labor and delivery. A doula will stay with you to keep you as comfortable as possible with positional changes, as well as massage and touch techniques for relaxation and rest. The doula will also provide you with education and resources to help you advocate for your health care preferences to your medical team.

After delivery and during the postpartum period, doulas can help you navigate the “fourth trimester” by providing support and encouragement to you and your new family. If you’ll be breastfeeding, they can also share their knowledge on the topic and refer you to lactation professionals.

What is a midwife?

A midwife is a licensed health care professional who helps you during labor, delivery, and after birth.

What services do midwives provide?

A midwife is there to support your physical and psychological health. They can provide advice on diet, exercise, and medications. A midwife can also perform prenatal exams, order tests, and prescribe medication.

A midwife can deliver your baby at home, a birthing center, or hospital. During labor, a midwife will typically provide you with emotional support as well. You might consider working with a midwife if a doctor has determined your pregnancy is low risk and you’d prefer limited medical intervention during childbirth.

When should you have an OB/GYN?

A midwife will typically recommend you see an OB/GYN if your pregnancy is considered high-risk or if you are expecting multiple babies. If your childbirth support team includes a doula but not a midwife, you’ll need to have an OB/GYN deliver your baby since doulas aren’t licensed to do so.

CDPHP® is here to support our members who are expecting, whether you plan to become a first-time parent or already have children. Expecting members have access to CDPHP benefits and resources to support them on their pregnancy journey, such as coverage for prenatal and postpartum appointments with both a midwife and OB/GYN provider.

CDPHP offers eligible members reimbursement up to $1,500 for out-of-pocket costs related to in-person or virtual services provided by a certified and/or trained doula.*

*Participation in these services is dependent on plan type and may not apply for self-funded plan members. Please check your member contract or call the number on your ID card to see if you’re eligible.

Elise Shaver
About the Author

Elise Shaver joined CDPHP® in February 2021 as a marketing communications coordinator and currently serves as communications specialist. A native of the Capital Region, Elise earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Siena College. She brings several years of experience in both the marketing and not-for-profit industry. Elise enjoys the outdoors, gardening, and spending time with her family.

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