Doulas, Midwives, and OG/GYNs | What’s the difference?

Hi there! I hope our last post helped you narrow down your possibilities some. There is one more decision to make before meeting that special person that will help bring your little one into this world! Which would be the best fit for you: a doula, midwife, or OB/GYN? Here’s what I compiled about each…

A doula is like a second labor coach. They are not trained to give any medical care so prenatal visits, the actually delivery, and postnatal care will be given by another provider. Doulas focus on the emotional and physical support of the mother and the family. They will be with you through the entire labor and delivery and seek to reduce the stress that often accompanies labor and delivery. Typical services given by doulas are techniques for physical comfort, aromatherapy, medication, breathing techniques, assistance with writing a birth plan, and even childcare during labor and delivery. To find a doula you can contact Doulas of North America at to find one in your area.

Much like a doula, a midwife is focused on relaxation techniques. However, contrary to doulas, midwives have medical training. Now, there are two different types of midwives: certified midwife and certified nurse midwife. A certified midwife is a person who has background in a health related field and has graduated from a midwifery program. Certified nurse midwives are nurses who have also graduated from a midwifery program. Midwives are commonly used with at-home births but are able to work in hospitals as well; although, they are not trained for surgery or high-risk births. Stepping back a bit, midwives are certified to give prenatal care. Their appointments tend to be a little longer than a typical doctor’s appointment because of their focus on making the mother feel as comfortable as possible. To find a certified nurse midwife in your area visit the American College of Certified Nurse Midwives’ website at

An OB/GYN is a trained medical professional. Each one has completed four years of medical school, plus four years of residency. OB/GYNs tend to be more educated in the up and coming medical practices of the day and not as focused on the specific area of relaxation and emotional support as doulas and midwives are. That is not to say that they do not care, just that they are typically more apt to use medical interventions than alternate methods of calming the scene during labor and delivery. You can get a list of licensed OB/GYNs from the American Congress of OB/GYN located in Washington D.C. by calling (202) 638-5577 or by visiting their website at

Regardless of these general statements about each of these practitioners, it is important to meet with the individual you are interested in receiving care from and get a feel for how well they match with your own personal beliefs and feelings related to labor and delivery.