@PinkPandaBear: I had DD about 7 months ago, and she is my only one so I can’t compare experiences.
To clarify for any Bees following, a midwife is a credentialed medical professional, often a nurse or nurse practitioner. A doula is a birth assistant/attendant, but not necessarily a medical professional. They assist the couple during labor and some do prenatal and postnatal visits (to help with breastfeeding, etc) and varies from doula to doula.
I saw the midwife group who practices at the hospital I work for. There are five midwives, and they rotate being on-call much like an OB would. For that reason, I asked to be scheduled with each individual midwife at least one time during my pregnancy so when I went into labor I would have a familiar face and not a stranger.
The midwives I saw (and most if not all, as far as I know) will only take low risk patients. As a general rule of thumb, they are typically supportive of a natural approach to childbirth, and often encourage each individual mother to have a great deal of say in her birth plan and birth.
The midwives I saw were wonderfully supportive, always available if I had concerns or questions, were patient with me and my 100 questions during appointments, and I felt very connected and comfortable with each and every one of them.
I also had doulas while in labor. I had met them once prior to birth, and had talked with them on the phone a few times as well. They helped guide my husband to better support me and my needs. They used aroma therapy, massage, warm and cool compresses, counter pressure, and general good vibes/positive energy.
I had a fantastic birth experience and shared my birth story on here if anyone is interested in clicking through my old threads to find it.
I should also say that my cousin gave birth just five weeks before me, with an OB at the same hospital, and while she didn’t have a completely intervention-free birth, she had a lovely birth and a positive experience as well. I do think it varies from provider to provider, and it’s possible to have very caring and compassionate OBs as well as distant midwives.