Midwife vs Obstetrician: What's The Difference Between Them And Whom To Choose

Midwife vs Obstetrician

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In the past, pregnant women depended almost entirely on midwives and other local women with considerable experience in childbirth. But today, we have obstetricians (OB) and gynecologists who are preferred to midwives for delivery and prenatal care.

An OB and a midwife are both professionals in their own right and have different methods of dealing with pregnancy and childbirth. But who could be the best for you? A midwife or an OB? If you are in a dilemma about it and are not sure who to choose, this article is for you.

Momjunction explains the difference between the two care providers and helps you find the right one.

Difference Between An OB And A Midwife?

Midwife: A midwife is a healthcare professional who focuses on sexual and reproductive care of women along with pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care.

Obstetricians (OBs) and midwives are both trained professionals who assist pregnant women. But the difference lies in their method of training and approach towards dealing with the pregnancy until delivery.

The differences are further explained here.

They have a medical approach towards obstetric careThey take a holistic approach
Trained in performing surgical procedures like C-section or any otherCannot perform surgical procedures
Perform circumcisionsCannot perform circumcisions
Capable of handling pregnancy complications during deliveryCan handle only low-risk pregnancies
Attend deliveries only at childbirth centers and not at homeCan carry out delivery at the hospital or home
Might not spend more time with you during prenatal visits and after deliverySpends time with you during the prenatal visits and after delivery

The approach towards obstetric care varies from doctors to midwives. Read here to know about the different models of care.

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[ Read: Tips To Choose The Right Gynecologist ]

What Are The Different Models Of Obstetric Care?

There are two general models of obstetric care (1):

1. The midwifery model of care:

Midwifery considers pregnancy and birth to be a natural or biological process that should be supported but not interfered with. The approach focuses on non-medical obstetric care to reduce the likelihood of C-section and other medical interventions unless there is a complication that needs medical care.

The length of appointment with midwives is generally longer as they also attend to the social, spiritual, and emotional aspects of pregnancy.

2. Obstetrical management:

An obstetrician focuses on diagnosing, treating and preventing the complications during pregnancy. This approach also emphasizes on using medical interventions during labor.

For example, an obstetrician may suggest using medications to speed up the labor and deliver a baby via a cesarean section in case of complications. The preventive strategies under obstetric care are a combination of tests and medical procedures that increase the chances of a positive outcome.

But how do you know which one is ideal for your situation? Next, we answer a few questions that will help you determine whether you should choose a midwife, obstetrician or seek the help of both the professionals.

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List Of Questions To Help You Choose Between An OB And A Midwife

Here are few questions you can ask to figure out which medical professional is best for you.

1. How do you want to deliver your baby?

A midwife primarily supports vaginal delivery, but an obstetrician may or may not. If you want to deliver your baby through the natural birthing process, then make sure that your care provider is supportive of that.

2. Do you need a caregiver with you during delivery?

Midwives spend a lot of time with the patient during labor. However, obstetricians may not be able to dedicate personal time to you, as they have other patients to attend to.

[ Read: What Is Baby Crowning ]

3. How do you want to manage labor pain?

Obstetricians handle deliveries only in hospitals, where they can administer epidural for pain management. However, midwives encourage medication-free and natural methods to manage the labor pain.

4. What can you expect from the caretaker during labor?

The OB-GYNs may put you on IV and recommend continuous fetal monitoring. However, a midwife will let you move around freely or stay in a comfortable position and perform periodic checks to monitor the progress.

5. Do you need support and advice as you enter parenthood?

Midwives spend time with you discussing the nutrition and exercise you need to follow before and after childbirth. They are almost always at your service. But obstetricians may not be available as and when you need their support, although they will guide you about nutrition and lifestyle.

6. What if you have a high-risk pregnancy?

In case of a high-risk pregnancy, a midwife needs to take the help of an obstetrician to deliver the baby. If the need for a C-section arises, only an obstetrician, who is trained for it, can handle the case efficiently. If the patient has serious medical conditions, then an obstetrician and a midwife together can handle the case during pregnancy and delivery.

7. Where would you like to deliver?

If you are in favor of home birth and have no pregnancy complications, then appointing a midwife is a good idea. But midwives do not encourage the use of epidurals during labor.

If you need epidural and want to be in a hospital under the supervision of a doctor, then an OB is the best choice for you. Note that obstetricians will only attend to childbirth cases at specific delivery centers.

8. Are you comfortable with the practitioner you are seeing?

If you have a good rapport with your practitioner and if you can reach out to her or him any time you have a concern, then go with your OB-GYN.

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[ Read: Enema During Labor ]

Make a note of how you want your delivery to be and what you might or might not need, considering your health. In the end, it boils down to who you think is the best or who you are comfortable with. If you still have doubts, talk to other mothers who have used either of the professional’s services.

Do you have any experiences to share with us? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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