Midwife or Doctor?

This is not meant to bring about debating or arguing. I am just writing this to state the facts so people can make an informed decision. Also, I think a lot of people have misconceptions about what a midwife does. I personally use a midwife, but I have no problem seeing a doctor. I will be referring to certified nurse midwives not direct entry midwives.

Training/Education

OB/GYN doctors attend medical school and also have specialized training in obstetrics and gynecology.

Certified Nurse Midwives are registered nurses with Master’s degree in nurse midwifery.

Where they deliver babies

OB’s deliver only in hospital settings with a medical approach.

Midwives also deliver in hospitals but can deliver in birthing centers or in your home. (However, a majority of midwives deliver in hospitals. Everyone has a misconception that midwives come to your house to deliver babies, but in reality 75% of them only deliver in hospitals).

Prenatal Testing

Both doctors and midwives will order any blood tests, genetic tests, ultrasounds etc during your pregnancy.

High Risk Pregnancy

If you are considered having a high risk pregnancy (pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, etc) you will likely only have the option of an OB. Midwives typically only handle low-risk pregnancies.

Epidurals/Pain Medication/Induction

Both doctors and midwives can order any pain medication during birth. There is a misconception that midwives will not allow epidurals and this is simply not true. Midwives are big on making sure that the mother is making the decision she is comfortable with. Also, both of them can order pitocin to induce or speed up labor.

C-Sections/Episiotomies/Forceps

Midwives do not perform c-sections. If a c-section is necessary they will have to call in a doctor. Midwives have a much lower rate of their patients needing a c-section, episiotomies or forceps. I think this is because they typically have less patients. They are with you throughout the entire birthing process and seem to have a bit more patience for mothers in labor.

In short, there is not a whole lot of difference between an OB or a midwife. A doctor will have a more medical approach and will look at pregnancy and delivery as a medical procedure which is great if you have complications or just want a straight forward approach. Midwives tend to look at the whole process woman and baby. They spend a bit more time making sure that you are ok physically and emotionally throughout pregnancy and labor and delivery. It is a bit more a personalized approach. You usually only see one midwife your whole pregnancy and you get to know him/her VERY well. With an OB you will likely rotate between all of the doctors in the practice. Both are great options and the most important thing to remember is that you should choose what is best for you!

 

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6 thoughts on “Midwife or Doctor?

  1. I am 38+4 weeks pregnant with my first and we are having our baby at home with a midwife. We interviewed a few other midwives but the midwife we chose was the standout- also she is a NP and EMT and has been practicing for over 30 years. its been a wonderful experience working with her so far- its definitely more of a relationship and my appointments are never rushed!

    • I totally agree! That’s awesome that you found one that delivers at your home. None of the ones around here do that, but I think that is a great option. It is so nice to have them around during your entire labor.

  2. I saw an OB until I was 40 weeks, at which point I felt like they put me on a conveyer belt. We also bought a house at that point so we decided to switch to a midwife and have a home birth. I started at home but after laboring for 27 hours decided to go to the hospital and get an epidural. I delivered in the hospital with another midwife. My actual delivery was awesome. The midwife at home I think pushed me a bit too hard. It became stressful. I wouldn’t go back to her. Nice side-by-side comparison though!

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