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Cynthia FlynnDifference Between Midwife and Doula
by Cynthia Flynn, CNM, Ph.D.

Q. What's the difference between a midwife and a doula? I know a midwife gets a lot more training - is a midwife more hands-on? Do both provide pre-natal care as well as attending the birth?

A. A midwife provides prenatal care, delivery of the baby, care of the mother post-partum and newborn care. The midwife is responsible for the safety of mother and baby. Some kinds of midwives also provide family planning, annual exams, and other kinds of well-woman gynecology.

Certified doulas do not provide any kind of medical care. For instance, they would not listen to the baby's heart beat or do a vaginal exam or deliver the baby. They do provide emotional and physical support for the laboring woman and her family and/or post-partum care of the mother and baby. Doula care has been shown to improve outcomes for both moms and babies in many studies.

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