The difference between a doula and a midwife - lesPremiersMoments
The difference between a doula and a midwife

The difference between a doula and a midwife

The difference between a doula and a midwife

You have to go as far back as the days of Ancient Greece to find the meaning of the word Doula. It means “the one who serves the mother”. In the Middle Ages, women gathered around the woman who gave birth to surround and support her. The midwife was part of this feminine circle.

Nowadays, midwives and doulas play different roles with pregnant women, but they have a common goal: to make childbirth as positive as possible, while respecting physiology.

The doula often works in a hospital environment and therefore helps parents navigate the possible interventions by keeping this physiology of the body and of birth in plain sight. 

Do we say doula or accompanying person at birth?

In Quebec, we go back and forth between the two appellations. In English-speaking and European circles, the word doula is advocated while in Quebec, some people prefer the clarity of the term “accompanying” at birth. There is also theQuebec Association of Birth Attendants from which many derive their title. 

Whether it is a doula or a companion, the parents who have used this service are unanimous, it is a must!

A doula, is it like a midwife?

The short answer to this question would be, no! 

Of course, there are similarities between the two professions because, yes, being a doula is a profession, even a passion. And as in all the professions that accompany people, being a doula is a real gift of oneself, it is having one's desire focused on the well-being, the confidence and the abandonment of parents in the face of à the unknown of childbirth.  

To be a doula is to wear several hats à that time.

Some are massage therapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, naturopaths in perinatal period. Some are stay-at-home moms, work in an office or elsewhere. They are all animated by the same drive, that of giving back to women their full powers, their full confidence so that they can experience a childbirth where anything is possible.

They have a complementary role to that of the doctor or midwife. They are at the same time a privileged partner, a source of peace, a resource and a friend in this adventure.

In Quebec, midwives are government employees linked to different birth centers and they practice in birth centers, at home or sometimes in hospitals at the request of parents.

There are no midwives employed in hospitals or liberal midwives (autonomous) as in Europe. 

To become a midwife, it takes 4 and a half years of University in Trois-Rivières, including several internships. They are part of a professional order and their service is fully covered by the RAMQ. They can perform medical procedures, order ultrasounds and screening tests, and they take 100% of the responsibility for the health of the person giving birth and their baby. 

To be doula, you have to follow a training course with a private school, do several internships and research work. 

Since doulas are contracted directly by parents, they can accompany families in birthing centers, at home with the presence of midwives or in hospitals.

They also come to the parents' home as soon as labor begins to help the mother manage the pain and prepare to leave for the birthplace. They do not perform any of the acts reserved for medicine and reserve the right to make diagnoses. Their support remains emotional and physical without crossing the line of medical. 

But a doula is more than that!

Parents who hire a doula do so to be informed, equipped, listened to, respected, reassured and to feel safe. 

It is important to choose your doula well since it is during prenatal meetings that a bond of trust and intimacy is woven between all. His background of experience allows him to intervene in several physical, psychological and emotional aspects.

She can even intervene with siblings when necessary. She will prepare birth wishes with the parents and ensure à that they are ready for the long awaited day.

Sometimes great closeness is made possible by à parents' trust in their caregiver. She becomes an important ally for them, both before and during childbirth and in the following weeks. 

Parents who choose to be accompanied by a doula do so for several reasons. 

Sometimes, following a negative experience during a first childbirth, parents may wish to inform themselves and find all the necessary tools to live this second childbirth according to their needs. 

Sometimes it's a first baby that capsizes our hearts and the anxiety of knowing “what to do” arises.

We support the whole family because a birth can be lived together! 

Science proves also that the presence of a birth attendant during childbirth reduces the chances of having an emergency cesarean, facilitates the establishment of breastfeeding, makes labor faster and less painful. It also reduces the chances of having recourse à synthetic oxytocin, à epidural, with forceps and à the suction cup.  

Having a doula is NEVER being alone

My mother when accompanying my aunt.

Your companion will be present throughout childbirth (even if it lasts more than 24 hours). She joins you at the start of active labor and is often one of the few people who will be there from start to finish.

In the hospital, the change of staff every shift can make the experience impersonal and it will act as a link between the medical team and the parents.  

The accompanist will support all the decisions made by the parents, she will sometimes help you to see more clearly by referring you to the material learned in prenatal meetings. 

The advantage of knowing the parents for several months already helps her to better understand what the person giving birth is going through, and she will be able to find the words to allay her doubts, her fears and give her the strength she needs to continue.

She also helps the partner à support the person giving birth, reminding him tools to relieve pain, or him allow you to go for a coffee without leaving your lover alone.

And after the birth?

The accompanying person will remain present with the new family for a few hours after the birth.

She will continue à answer parents' questions about caring for the baby and à the person who has just given birth. She will make sure to give parents time to learn about breastfeeding and to take care à that the parents' choices are respected until transfer to the post-partum room. 

Within hours, days and weeks of return à home, the doula continues to be available and will visit to make sure the baby's arrival goes smoothly.

It will offer parents a space to deposit their emotions following de their childbirth experience. She will listen without judgment and can help them disentangle the timeline, stages, and both positive and negative emotions experienced during childbirth. 

It is an immense privilege to be invited into the intimacy of families and to be able to welcome new humans with you. It is a recognition and an important bond that will be present between you and your doula for a long time.

It is not for nothing that it is common to see doulas no longer practicing, return to the delivery room to relive these moments with parents whom they accompanied a few years ago. 

To find YOUR doula, visit our team page. We are offering up to 3 free meetings with Doulas from Les Premiers Moments to make sure you find the pearl for you.

Looking forward to being able to experience these first moments with you! 

Veronique Dufort
Birth attendant at Les Premiers Moments

* the feminine is used to designate a person who is a doula, birth attendant and midwife, but we recognize that some people in these professions do not identify as women and we support them.