Doulas and Midwives
There is a lot of confusion around the different roles of a doula and a midwife. In this article we hope to show you
the differences but also how they can both work together. We also hope to show you that at Kensington Midwives
we aim to marry the two roles.
Doulas and midwives can work together but there is also room for misunderstanding and possible
A doula is an experienced support person offering guidance and support to the pregnant women and
her family through pregnancy, birth and postnatally. They are employed and paid directly by the
women they support. There is good evidence that having a doula has many benefits, as with any
form of continuity of care, there is a reduced risk of caesarean section and the need for painkillers
and slightly shorter labours. There is also an increased likelihood of initiating breastfeeding and
continuing to breast. Studies have repeatedly shown that having someone who is not family or
hospital staff, has some experience and some form of training, and present solely to provide
support at the birth has been shown to have a very positive impact on the outcome.
The main difference between a doula and a midwife is that the doula has no clinical responsibilities.
A midwife would not be able to follow the doula code of conduct as it would clash with her clinical
responsibilities and could conflict with the non-advisory non –clinical nature of the doula role. The
fundamental work of a doula is more about ‘being’ than ‘doing’. Doula preparation is mostly about
emotional and social and self-preparation. The midwife is accountable for her actions and her clinical
judgements. This does not mean that a midwife cannot support the wishes of the mother but she
must do so under sound clinical evidence based advise.
Midwives sometimes worry that the role of the doula will impact on the role of the midwife. They
should be complimentary to each other. However, with the added pressures on midwives and the
fragmented way in which maternity care is delivered women often feel they are not getting
continuity of care. At Kensington Midwives we provide the essential continuity of care with the
midwifery expertise which we hope complements the wonderful care in the NHS.