Differences Between Licensed Midwifery and Doula Certifications

For parents who are considering using a midwife or a doula, or for a nursing student who is considering becoming a midwife or doula, there are several considerations. The first consideration is concerning the state of residence. Some states do not allow midwives, but they do allow doulas to practice within the state. This leads to some confusion since many students and parents believe the midwife and doula are one in the same. This is a misconception, and here are a few considerations that will clear the misconceptions regarding these two lines of certifications.

What a Certified Midwife Does

A certified midwife handles the vast majority of the clinical care to the pregnant mother. A midwife will handle all prenatal care, home birth care, postnatal care and any nutritional care throughout the pregnancy. During the birth, if the mother chooses, the midwife is present at the hospital. If the mother chooses a home birth or a birth at the midwife birthing center, then the midwife will be present as well. Postnatal care is also offered by midwives. In essence, a midwife can handle most anything a maternity clinic or team of professionals can handle.

If there are complications or issues that a midwife cannot handle, the midwife will accompany the mother to the local hospital for emergency medical treatment.

What a Certified Doula Does

A certified Doula may or may not handle the same aspects of pre and postnatal care as a midwife. In some states, the only aspects of care the Doula handles are pre-natal care and post-natal care. The actual delivery of the child is handled at a birthing clinic or area hospital chosen by the parents. The doula may or may not be present during the birth, depending on the wishes of the parents and the hospital rulings. Overall, the Doula is present to act as a spokesperson and advocate for the mother during the birth process. If there is paperwork, if there are choices or if there are any issues that the mother or father must contemplate during the birth then the Doula will act as a representative to explain and help the parents through the process.

Certification and Training Differences

A midwife will generally have some sort of nursing certification as a prerequisite to becoming a midwife. Depending on the state guidelines a midwife may need to have a license or degree as a registered nurse. In other states a licensed practical nurse may become a midwife. A doula, however, does not require any particular educational prerequisite in order to become a doula. This is primarily due to the fact that a doula, in most states, does not preform the actual act of labor and delivery and is only there in a consultant aspect for the parents during a pre and postnatal health visit or visits. The certification and training process is the same for either a doula or a midwife. The main differences are the educational prerequisites and if the state in question will allow the student to assist during labor and delivery.