Midwife vs. OB/GYN: Deciding Which One is Right for You

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During pregnancy, you have a lot of important decisions to make. You must make a plan for
parental leave, decide on a childbirth class, pick out some options for names, and do a lot of comparison shopping.

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Some of the most important decisions you’ll make during pregnancy involve your birth plan.

Thinking about your birth plan in advance will help you stay calm during the delivery, although it’s important to realize that many birth plans do ultimately change during the progression of labor.

Choosing the person who will guide you through that process can ultimately make a huge
difference in your comfort and safety.

Your two main choices are between a midwife and an OB/GYN. But which provider is right for you?

The Difference Between a Midwife and an OB/GYN

An obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) is a medical doctor who is trained in women’s health, pregnancy, and childbirth.

OB/GYNs must go through medical school and can perform surgeries and other interventions in a hospital setting, which may be necessary to save the life of a woman or her baby.

A midwife is someone who is trained in helping women through pregnancy and childbirth.
There are many different certification levels for midwives, but the most common type of
certification is a Certified Nurse Midwife. These midwives have been through nursing school
and have advanced degrees in midwifery.

Both midwives and OB/GYNs offer prenatal care during pregnancy. They provide ultrasounds, checkups, genetic testing, and other services. Both types of providers fill critical needs for maternal health.

doctor with tablet pc and pregnant woman at clinic
Adobe PhotoStock

Where Do You Want to Give Birth?

Generally, OB/GYNs assist women who give birth in the hospital.

While some women prioritize being assisted by a medical doctor with access to pain management options like an epidural, others feel more comfortable giving birth in a birth center or at home, where midwives typically assist unless the birth is not progressing as it should.

It’s important to consider where you want to give birth when choosing whether to work with a midwife or an OB/GYN.

If you want to attempt a natural birth without pain medication, it can be more comfortable to give birth at home or in a birth center. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or you’re concerned about getting to the hospital in time if the need arises, giving birth in a hospital might be a better choice.

Your Birth Plan

Your birth plan should include who you want present during the delivery, what kind of pain
management you want, and other important details.

The birth plan you create will help you choose the right provider for you since midwives and OB/GYNs tend to specialize in different types of birth experiences.

For example, if you want to go the natural route, without an epidural, then a midwife might be a great choice.

Any birth plan should include some flexibility and a backup plan should things go wrong. If you choose to work with a midwife and want to give birth naturally, you still must be prepared for the possibility of a c-section in the worst-case scenario.

female doctor using ultrasound scanner
Adobe PhotoStock

Considerations for High-Risk Pregnancies

Some women have “high-risk” pregnancies, based on their health conditions, age, and
other factors.

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, then it might be best to work with an OB-GYN for your prenatal care and delivery.

Although midwives are highly skilled, they are not able to provide advanced interventions and you might end up in the hospital during delivery anyway if things do not progress normally.

Which Should You Choose?

Midwives play an important role in our maternal healthcare system. They offer a great
experience for women with low-risk pregnancies and have the training to know when a trip to the hospital is needed for the mother and baby’s safety.

OB/GYNs are also important for ensuring that women have safe deliveries. They are
knowledgeable about high-risk pregnancies and can provide life-saving surgeries and
treatments when needed.

Only you can decide which type of provider is right for you. Take some time to weigh the pros and cons before you choose.

This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your pregnancy, so be sure to go with the provider you think will help you feel safe and comfortable through the labor and delivery process.

***Author Bio: Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children. When she’s not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

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