Doula, Midwife or OB-GYN – Which is best for your birth plan?

doula midwife obgyn birth plan

Every mom-to-be needs to make a lot of big decisions – one of the biggest is her birth plan. Who you chose to have with you and how you chose to give birth wildly changes the experience! Many people imagine the standard birth plan takes place in a hospital with pain numbing medication, but based on who you chose as your pregnancy care provider the experience can be very different. The main players in the creation of a birth plan are the Doula, OB-GYN, and the Midwife. It’s hard to chose, but every pregnant woman needs to ask herself: “which care provider is right for me?”

There are a lot of big differences between a Doula, Midwife, and an OB-GYN, so let’s take a minute to break down exactly what each one does.


A midwife is a trained professional who provides emotional and medical support during childbirth, as well as actually delivering the baby. They are capable of performing several different medical examinations and will also work with mothers in the stages leading up to delivery, as well as the postpartum period. A midwife operates through The Midwives Model of Care, a special set of rules that emphasizes the natural process of birth. When deciding whether you should work with an OB-GYN or a midwife, think of midwifes as medical care providers who also provide a level of emotional support. There are many different kinds of midwifes that may be available. More information about them can be found here and here, two major midwifery organizations.

OB-GYN (Obstetrician)

An OB-GYN is a physician who specializes in obstetrics i.e., a doctor that focuses on managing labor, delivery, the postpartum period and all other aspects of pregnancy. Depending on the practice, your delivery may be carried out by a different doctor than who you are used to based on who is on call. Your OB-GYN is a surgeon, so if your birth plan involves a planned c-section, this is who will perform it. If your pregnancy is high-risk, or you are nervous about complications, remember that an OB-GYN is a doctor prepared for medical emergencies.


Doulas came about in the 20th century under the idea that in all human societies a woman should be present for support when a mother gives birth. Doulas aren’t medical professionals, but there are major organizations such as DONA that provide certifications. The way a doula fits into your birth plan is by providing emotional and practical support before, during and after delivery. She will establish a relationship with a mother, and be a friend and pillar of emotional support during pregnancy and possibly a few weeks after birth. Doula’s work with your midwife or OB-GYN, providing emotional support and advocacy as experienced professionals.

What’s your birth plan?

So where do all of these pregnancy care providers fit into your birth plan? Generally the choice is between an obstetrician and a midwife, with the added consideration of a doula. You will need to decide whether you want a delivery that is more natural or one that includes more medical intervention.

Just remember that every baby and every body is different – each requiring a different level of care. No choice is inherently better or worse. We hope that this provides a little extra help in your decision making progress!