A midwife is the primary care provider for pregnant, birthing and postnatal women.
Both midwives and doulas provide emotional and physical support to women in labour and birth, and work with labouring women to suggest position changes and provide emotional support.
Midwives are registered health professionals with a university degree and they are recognised by legislation. The doula industry is not regulated and formal qualifications are not required. There are no formal standards of practice or registration for doulas.
Midwives are educated in skills such as newborn resuscitation and care of the pregnant, birthing and postnatal woman – including knowledge of how to keep pregnancy and birth normal. Midwives are also educated to know when medical care is necessary, and they can execute emergency measures while waiting for medical care to arrive.
Midwives can offer qualified advice and clinical care, whereas doulas cannot advise or comment on clinical practices and cannot provide clinical care such as listening to the baby’s heart rate, checking blood pressure etc.
While women may engage a doula’s services for additional support, a midwife or obstetrician will always be needed to provide care.
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