What's the Difference Between an OB, a Midwife, and a Doula? | Upstate Birth
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What’s the Difference Between an OB, a Midwife, and a Doula?

When you find out you’re going to have a baby, lots of new terms are going to be thrown around. There are some common mistakes made regarding the purpose and scope of practice between obstetricians, midwives, doulas, and childbirth educators. Here are some tips to help clarify!

To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and undoubtedly inhabited.
– By Anne Buchanan & Debra Klingsporn

Do I need an OB or a Midwife?

That’s a great and common question! Are you healthy and low risk? Are you interested in a normal, physiological birth? Is your baby healthy? Is midwifery care legal in your state? If your answers are all “yes” you may want to consider hiring a midwife! Midwives are the primary care providers for healthy women and their babies worldwide. They are the primary maternity care providers for pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. OB’s are medical doctors or osteopathic doctors who are trained to assist high risk women in medical emergencies and surgery to help save the lives of women and their babies. When both midwives and obstetricians are integrated into the maternity care system, families are the true beneficiaries! According to this study, all women need a midwife. Some women need a doctor, too. I fully agree!

So, what’s a doula?

A doula is a woman, hired by the family, who supports the laboring family. She is specially trained to offer physical and emotional support to both the laboring woman and her husband/partner. Studies soundly prove the benefits of doula support in lowering the cesarean rate (currently about 33% in the US), reducing the need for pain medication during labor, and improving the overall birth experience. According to Rebecca Dekker at Evidence Based Birth®, you can think of your doula as a tour guide. Sure, you can visit a country and figure your way around it. But imagine being able to find all the hidden treasures a place has to offer with the help of a tour guide! That’s what your doula is doing for you- showing, guiding, supporting, helping. And she works for you!

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