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Doulas and Midwives

30th Dec 2015

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

conflict.

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.

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