Childbirth today has several alternatives to the standard hospital experience with an obstetrician, and doula and midwife are just two of many.
A doula is an assistant who provides physical as well as emotional support during childbirth. Doulas help women in a non-medical capacity.
A midwife is a professional who has institutional qualification to help a pregnant woman in delivering a baby. The World Health Organization defines a midwife as: A person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery educational program that is duly recognized in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery. The educational program may be an apprenticeship, a formal university program, or a combination.
Types & Duties
A doula can characteristically be classified into three types: prenatal doula, childbirth doula and postpartum doula. Based on the qualification, a doula may assist a pregnant woman before child birth by getting her necessary commodities and preparing her to deliver a baby. A childbirth doula, does just that, i.e. helps a pregnant woman deliver a baby. A doula's role may include assisting the mother during childbirth e.g. by supporting her emotionally. However, a postpartum doula can help a mother after child birth with all the essential chores at home, including but not limited to cooking, caring for the child, assisting in breast feeding etc.
Typically, there are two types of midwives: Direct-entry midwives, who usually enter directly into midwifery education programs without a prior professional credential and Certified nurse-midwives who are registered nurses before entering midwifery training. A midwife’s duties include helping child bearing women during labor, childbirth and providing postpartum care until the baby is six weeks old.
The word Doula is derived from the Ancient Greek word doulē, meaning female slave.
The term Midwife is derived from Middle English word mid meaning with an Old English word wif meaning woman.
An experienced doula can earn anywhere from $300 to $1000 a time in the United States of America. These rates are flexible and usually depend on the cost of living of the area where the service is being delivered.
A midwife however, can make up to $40,000 - $90,000 a year in the United States of America. The amount mentioned is the base pay and can differ based on your employer, industry, credentials, experience etc.
Though it isn’t essential for a doula to be certified by an agency or an institution, many women prefer their doulas to meet some basic requirements. These requirements can be fulfilled from various doula certifying agencies across the country or even by appearing for exams over the internet. Doulas need to attend specific number of births before they can be certified, which varies from agency to agency. A few agencies in the United States are : Childbirth International and Doulas of North America.
Midwives can be certified through North American Registry of Midwives for Certified Professional Midwife, American College of Nurse Midwives for Certified Nurse-Midwife.