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How to Become a Nurse or A Midwife and How Do They Differ From Doulas?

Updated: Nov 7


A Woman Nurse

Midwives not only provide educational support and healthcare for the pregnant person throughout pregnancy but also supervise labor and delivery and provide needed follow-up care after childbirth. They can also provide many primary care services, well checks, and contraception.


Although midwifes and doulas both provide services that lead to better health outcomes for parents and babies, their specific roles differ considerably.


Midwives typically hold a nursing degree and certification which can take five years or more. Certified nurse midwives hold a master of science in nursing or a doctorate of nursing practice degree. They are healthcare providers authorized to give medical care throughout pregnancy and labor and birth. Most of the time, obtaining academic knowledge in nursing school is not sufficient to become a nurse-midwife.


Nurse-Midwives must develop a combination of advanced nursing skills, clinical experience, and expert knowledge in their areas of practice to succeed in this role.

Different from Midwives, doulas do not need a postsecondary degree. Typically, they complete training in childbirth education and labor support. A doula does not perform medical services but offers nonmedical advice and guidance. They provide education, advice, and support before, during, and after childbirth.

Nurse midwives obtain certification as a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Once certified, CNMs can apply for licensure in their state. All state licenses for CNMs require certification.


Exercising during pregnancy with a doula

Doulas do not need licenses in any state, and very few states require certification. Many doulas hold certification as a birth doula and/or postpartum doula.

In terms of working places, Nurse midwives work in obstetrician and gynecologist offices, hospitals, healthcare clinics, and birth centers. Midwives in private practice may offer special services such as at-home births.


Doulas can find employment in many of the same settings as midwives. They may also work from their own homes or their patients' homes and offer support during and after home births.


Are you committed to sharing your time and talents to help pregnant families in under-served communities? Volunteers are the heart of our organization. Every volunteer that comes to HHFC, brings experiences, histories, expertise, skills and expectations.

No matter what role a volunteer plays, everyone at Hope Healing Family Center is in it for the same reason: to help pregnant families to receive the services and healthcare they could not receive anywhere else. If so, we are looking for experienced nurses/ midwives and doulas to join our team. Learn more about our Board Member positions.


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