Know The Difference: OBGYN, Midwife, Doula - Allbodies

Know The Difference: OBGYN, Midwife, Doula

Know The Difference: OBGYN, Midwife, Doula

Know The Difference: OBGYN, Midwife, Doula


The most important thing you can do when thinking about your pregnancy and birth is to pick the appropriate team to support you.

There is a lot of confusion over who your team entails. Here’s our breakdown to make it easy.


An OBGYN is a doctor that specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology; Gynecology meaning specializing in the diseases and disorders of the biologically female reproductive system and Obstetrics meaning specializing in the care of pregnant people. So they do both. When it comes to birth, they are highly trained in using interventions and performing surgery (which is awesome when it’s necessary!).


  • Not all OBGYNs catch babies so if you love your doctor, be sure to ask now!

  • OBGYNs only have privileges in certain hospitals, so be sure you like the hospital where your doctor has privileges before signing on.

  • You may really like their personality, but it doesn’t mean they are the best fit for your birth. Think about what is most important to you and be sure to have those conversations early on. For example, if you want an unmedicated birth and you are low-risk but your doctor or hospital doesn’t allow you to be intermittently monitored for ALL of your labor, go some place else.

You typically have an OBGYN OR a Midwife, but you can have an OBGYN AND a doula.


A midwife is a clinical practitioner trained to view birth as a normal physiological process. Some midwives practice at hospitals (then they too must work within their institution’s policies), others at birth centers and some just do home births. Midwives do not perform surgery—but an on-call OB can perform surgery if it becomes necessary. Hospital midwives can order an epidural, suture (even out of hospital), and are specially trained in non-pharmaceutical pain relief options.


  • Studies show that birth outcomes are best in countries that utilize more midwives for low risk pregnancies.

  • Midwives can also handle all GYN needs prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy and beyond.

  • Midwives in the U.S have different trainings, legalities and licensure from state-to-state, so ask questions to find who is right for you.


A birth doula is a non-clinical birth coach who provides emotional, advocacy and educational support during pregnancy and birth. They don’t replace an OB or midwife, nor are they a replacement for the support a partner provides! Doulas make sure the pregnant person is an active participant in their birthing experience, and that all their needs are being met to ensure the birth day party is the best it can possibly be! There are also postpartum doulas who can help take care of and teach the lactating parent and baby post-birth from the comfort of your home. ⠀


  • The doula is likely the only person on the birth team (other than a partner) who will be there continuously throughout labor. If birthing in a hospital, it’s likely that most of the labor experience (and sometimes even pushing) will happen without a doctor or midwife present. They’ll be watching from the monitors outside!

  • A doula can meet expectant parents at home first to help labor there, and then help transition to the birthing place.