Certified Nurse Midwife vs. Doula – What’s the Difference?

You’ve found out your pregnant, and you’re full of excitement. You are planning well and preparing for this baby every step of the way. Of course, you also want a good team of professionals behind you. You are looking to choose a certified nurse midwife or a doula. Which one should you choose? What’s the difference in a certified nurse midwife vs. a doula?

What is a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)?

Certified Nurse Midwives are licensed healthcare providers that treat women from adolescence to menopause. They have all sorts of responsibilities, including exams, patient counseling, writing prescriptions, as well as educating parents and patients. They help women before, during, and after labor as well as throughout the reproductive and post-reproductive life cycle, providing gynecological and well-woman care as well. Midwives can deliver babies at birth centers, hospitals, or at the home of the mother. They operate under the idea that birth is a natural process and should be respected as such. They emphasize patient education and patient driven care.

If you decide to hire a CNM for your pregnancy, there are different kinds of services you can expect from them. They can perform physical examinations during pregnancy and labor, as well as after birth. CNM/s also run prenatal tests and prescribe supplements or medication.

CNM’s will also ensure you have a comfortable and safe labor and delivery. Though there are many complications that CNM’s manage, they don’t hesitate to involve the physicians they collaborate with, if needed for your care. During pregnancy, as well as after delivery, they also provide advice and education, as well as answer any questions.

Outside of pregnancy, CNM’s also provide education, regarding general health and medical care, reproductive health, contraception, nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding, and infant care.

CNM’s are midwives with a nursing background who complete additional academic and clinical training and are prepared at the Master’s or Doctorate level. They are board certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board, and are state licensed as Advanced Practice Nurses and Certified Nurse Midwives. It has been shown that hiring a midwife reduces the likelihood of birth by cesarean and preterm birth, and it increases the satisfaction of care and rates of breastfeeding.

What is a Doula?

A doula is also known as a “birth coach” or “birth companion.” They are dedicated support people for you during your birth, and sometimes, postpartum care. Doulas have varied backgrounds and training, but many professional doulas are certified through DONA, an organization that regulates standards and continuing education.  Doulas do not need to have any formal obstetric education, and are not a part of your clinical care team.

Their main role is to help create the best experience possible when bringing a baby into the world through education, advocacy and physical support.

They can also be there to support you postpartum and help you with breastfeeding. Lastly, a good doula knows what she knows and what questions should be directed to other health professionals.

Throughout history, women have typically had other women support them through birth. Over time, this has gotten lost. There are scientific trials that show the benefits of having a support person before, during, and shortly after birth. This includes better psychological and physical outcomes for both mother and baby. That’s why hiring a doula can be so beneficial during pregnancy, and a great addition to any birth team!

 

Still have some questions? If you’d like more information, please call our Wilmette or Glenview offices to schedule an appointment.

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