MidwifeA midwife is a trained medical profession who's gained competency in the child birth process through training, education, and supervised work experience. At the end of their pre-work experience, Midwife's are certified by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC). After being certified, Midwife's can work in many capacities, assisting homebirths, working in birthing centers, and also supporting hospital deliveries.
As a health practitioner, a midwife can be used instead of a doctor to support the birthing process and aid with everything from pre-natal health, to the actual birth, to post-natal health. Midwives are also trained to detect complications during the process and identify when a doctor or emergency care is actually required.
DoulaA Doula is more of a birthing assistant as they are not a trained medical professional in the nature that a Midwife is. Professional Doula's often fit into two categories, a birth Doula and a postpartum Doula. The registration and certification requirements vary from state to state so when considering a Doula it's important to look at the state guidance and even more importantly what their actual work experience has been. Many states do have a requirement that education, training, and work experience are required for someone to qualify as a Doula.
The biggest difference that is important to be aware of is that a Doula is not a replacement for a health practitioner and for the actual birth of your child should still have a Midwife or a Doctor present. Doula's are more birthing assistants for a mother, assisting her with the process, but not the actual person responsible for child birth. A Doula often uses a variety of homeopathic techniques to make the process go more smoothly and ease the mother through the process.