Pregnancy and motherhood introduces a multitude of decisions that need to be made.
Breast milk or formula?
Disposable diapers or cloth diapers?
Carrier or stroller?
Then there’s midwife or obstetrician…
With my first pregnancy, I was under the care of an obstetrician. With this pregnancy, I’ve been under the care of a midwife. I’m here to tell you that their are major differences between the two. Let me preface by stating that I had two EXTREMELY easy and smooth-sailing pregnancies, along with two outstanding care providers. Your experience with either midwife or doctor may vary from my own.
Let’s begin with the pros and cons for having a midwife as your care provider for your pregnancy and labor/delivery.
Pros to Having a Midwife
– Increased likelihood of a natural birth: I honestly feel like midwives are more empowering towards women and their ability to birth naturally than an obstetrician. They are less likely to encourage medical induction methods and the use of interventions. However, I find that midwives are supportive of any way that an expectant mom chooses to birth, even if that means wanting an epidural or an induction! Midwives can be as hands on or hands off as you would prefer.
– More time spent with patients: One thing I noticed with this pregnancy is that my midwife spends WAY more time with me than my obstetrician ever did. My OB was a quiet lady, and I’m a quiet lady, so it didn’t exactly negatively affect my first pregnancy experience. It could be a major factor for other women, though. My midwife spends adequate time addressing any concerns and answering any questions that I may have. Not only does she answer my questions, but she goes into great detail and answers my next question before I even ask it.
– More thorough: My midwife is incredibly thorough with revealing my results for any blood work, tests or procedures I have done. I didn’t even know my blood type until she went over my blood work with me! Turns out, I’m type A+. I had a weight estimation done at my last sonogram appointment, and we found out that baby is in the 77th percentile for that gestational age at 4.9lbs. She recommended that I up my protein intake so baby won’t become too large for my body to birth…easily, that is.
– Can work in a hospital setting, birth center or at home: Midwives don’t just attend home births. They can also be present in hospitals and birth centers. Wherever you feel most comfortable, you can have a midwife there for your labor and delivery!
Cons to Having a Midwife
– Only covered by insurance in a hospital setting: In the majority of instances, midwives are not covered by most insurance plans in the event of a birth at home or a birth center. Most women will have to pay out of pocket for a midwife’s services.
– Not for high-risk pregnancies: Most midwives will refer you to an obstetrician if she deems your pregnancy as high-risk. This could include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, a breech baby, multiple births or repeated c-sections, among other things.
Let’s move on to the pros and cons for having an obstetrician as your care provider for your pregnancy and labor/delivery.
Pros to Having an Obstetrician
– Completed medical school: This is actually the main reason why many women choose to see an obstetrician for their prenatal care. While doctors are no more knowledgeable about low-risk, non-surgical births, you might feel safer in the hands of an obstetrician. Being in the care of a midwife is just as safe as with a doctor in the case of low-risk pregnancies.
– Can perform a c-section: Midwives can be present during a c-section to assist with the procedure, but they are not certified to perform the surgery. Only a doctor can. If you were to be with a midwife your entire pregnancy and needed a c-section, a different doctor will be the one to perform the c-section. My midwife scheduled me to meet the other two obstetricians at the clinic I go to so I would at least know their face.
– Can care for high risk patients: If you’re a high-risk patient, you will likely be required to see an obstetrician, as midwives are not qualified to take you on as a patient. Obstetricians are excellent when it comes to tricky pregnancies! If you’re low-risk like me, a midwife might be a better option for you, if that’s what YOU desire.
Cons to Having an Obstetrician
– More likely to be unnecessarily induced: Many obstetricians will push for an induction the closer you get to the 40 week mark.
– More likely to face interventions and have a c-section: Midwives are great at allowing a woman to birth as long as needed, as long as baby isn’t in distress. With many obstetricians, it’s like you’re on a time limit to reach a certain dilation milestone, regardless of the health of mom and baby.
– Less time spent with patients: Since an obstetrician typically has more patients than a midwife, they may be unable to spend a lengthy amount of time with each patient and may produce short answers to questions. This, of course, largely depends on each individual obstetrician.
Which do I prefer?
Assuming I’m having a low-risk pregnancy, I personally prefer to be under the care of a midwife. I recognize the need for obstetricians and am remarkably grateful that they are available for women who are high-risk or who would just rather go with a doctor. I’m a big fan of OPTIONS.
Were you under the care of a midwife or an obstetrician during your pregnancy?