Doula vs. Midwife

What is the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?

Doula With New Parents

A doula is an individual who will come alongside a birthing mother or family, to provide emotional, physical, educational and relational support. They are focused on the support of the mother and family. Doulas do not, however, provide any medical assistance with the birth or postpartum support.


Midwives direct their focus to the safe delivery of the baby, and are medically trained to have a direct and physical role in delivery. There are two types of midwives: Direct entry and nurse midwives. A direct-entry midwife will complete training through a midwife program and/or apprenticeship, and then begin practicing as a midwife. A certified nurse-midwife is a formally trained nurse who then specializes in labor and delivery and participates in midwifery education prior to beginning to practice.


Doula Vs. Midwife Chart:

In General:



Do Not

Assist and coach prior to, during, and after labor

Physically aid in delivering a baby

Provide emotional support

Provide medical advice

Physical support and massage

Examine, diagnose, or treat medically

100% focused and individual care

Assist with non-labor related needs (i.e. pre and post-natal housework, sleep coaching, adoption)




Do Not

Examine, diagnose and treat medically

Assist with non-labor related needs

Prenatal care of mother and baby

Provide 100% personal care, as they may have other patients

Physically aid in delivery of baby

Massage, or other physical and emotional support or coaching

Often perform minor surgical procedures (i.e. episiotomes, etc.):


When a Midwife and Doula are the same:
Though there are distinctions in the roles of doulas and midwives, there are circumstances where a midwife may act as both a midwife and a doula. This is especially true in planned homebirths or very private births in birthing centers. In these cases (and occasionally in hospital births as well), a midwife may provide very personal care, and participate more in the emotional and coaching aspects of labor, as well as perform the delivery and medical duties necessary.