Birth Doulas and Midwives: Your Perfect Pregnancy Pairing


Often times when I introduce myself and tell people what I do I hear, "Oh! Like a Midwife!"

While the idea of doula support is becoming more recognized and known throughout the United States, many people still have a hard time differentiating between doulas and midwives. Doulas are definitely not midwives and while we do both support clients and birthing families, there are some key differences.


A midwife is a medical provider who is highly trained and skilled in pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum, general women's health, as well as newborn care. There are two types of Midwifery certifications.

A Certified Nurse-Midwife or a CNM go to nursing school first to become Registered Nurses. They then enroll in Midwifery school. They receive either a certification of completion or a master's degree in nursing. They will also sit for their boards through the ACNM or American College of Nurse Midwives. CNMs in Kansas City and the surrounding areas (including North Kansas City and Overland Park) most often work in the hospital settings or a birth center setting. They must have a collaborating physician to oversee the practice.

The second type of Midwife Certification is a Certified Practicing Midwife or CPM. A CPM could either go to a Midwifery school or do a direct-entry through apprenticeship. All CPMs, however, must pass the exam and receive certification given by the North American Registry of Midwives or NARM.

Both types of midwife are highly trained and skilled in prenatal care, birth, birth emergencies, infant CPR and resuscitation, postpartum care, management of pregnancy and birth, basically any and all skills needed to help bring life into this world. Many also offer women's wellness checks, including yearly exams and Pap smears.

Birth Doulas

The main difference between a midwife and a doula is that a doula is not a medical care provider. Doulas are highly trained in what is normal during the prenatal birth and postpartum however we do not administer health care or advice. We're also trained in breastfeeding basics. We don't catch babies, but we do help families bring their babies into the world by providing educational, informational, physical, and emotional support.

Here at Kansas City Family Birth, we are a family centered practice and provide support for the entire family unit. A doula is an indispensable part of your birth experience. We like to say that we are able to step back, view the entire situation, see where the gaps are, and fill them. That could mean getting water, doing hips squeezes, or assisting with holding feet during delivery. It looks so different for each family, and each birth.

Doulas are a wealth of knowledge and resources in your area including lactation professionals, mental health professionals, care providers (such as midwives or OBs), chiropractors, massage therapist...basically anything that you could need we have a resource for. Doulas are essentially your pregnancy Google, without the horror stories or the misinformation.

I think the key similarity between doulas and midwives is that we both want our clients to have a wonderful birthing experience. We both want our clients to have a safe and healthy birth and we work together to ensure that our clients are well taken care of. Often we are asked if we work with a certain Midwife. Kansas City Family Birth will work with any Midwife who catches at our area hospitals. (This includes North Kansas City Hospital, Shawnee Mission Medical Birthing Center, Research Medical Center, and Overland Park Regional Medical Center) We also work with any Midwife who catches at either New Birth Company location (Overland Park or Kansas City, Kansas), and most homebirth midwives as well. We are overjoyed and consistently impressed that the Kansas City metro area has so many wonderful options for those seeking Midwifery care.

Haven't found your Midwife yet? We would be more than happy to chat with you and give you some suggestions. Your doulas are here for you.

The main benefit to having both a doula and a midwife is having a caring, competent team from beginning to end. We work together to take care of you and your family before, during, and after your birth. We are able to work seamlessly so that your midwives may focus on yours and your baby's health, and support when there is the opportunity. With the Doula added to your birth team, you can ensure that you will have the emotional and physical support that you need even if your Midwife needs to do a clinical task.

We are so honored to serve and work with the amazing midwives in the Kansas City area. We are happy to chat with you about choosing a provider or birthing place, and, of course, choosing your doula. Click here to learn more about doula support with Kansas City Family Birth.