How to Choose: Doctor vs. Certified Midwife

How to Choose: Doctor vs. Certified Midwife

Let's Chat about finding the right provider

When you discover that you are pregnant, or when you are trying to conceive, suddenly your whole world shifts. There are many decisions to make, which can be overwhelming! One thing you will have to decide rather early on is what type of provider you plan to entrust with your care. This can be a very personal and complex decision, and can depend on your specific circumstances. Your health history, your vision of the ideal birth, your health insurance, and your beliefs related to medical care are all factors that will play a part in helping you make the best decision for you and your baby. In this post, we give a quick break down of the difference in provider options so that you can feel a little more informed when deciding which direction to go.

Choosing a Doctor (Ob/Gyn):

Both doctors and midwives are highly skilled and well trained. Doctors attend formal medical school, four years of medical residency, and an additional three years of residency specific to obstetrics and gynecology. They are surgically trained to perform cesarean sections and often provide more medical interventions than midwives do. Currently, they are the most commonly used providers for prenatal care and birth in the USA. Oftentimes it will be advisable to see a doctor if your pregnancy is high risk, if you need a cesarean section or complex hospital birth, or if you simply feel more comfortable with a doctor.
Many hospitals and obstetrical practices staff doctors as well as midwives for routine prenatal care and vaginal deliveries, so opting for a hospital birth does not necessarily mean you will need to see a doctor.

Choosing a Certified Nurse Midwife:

CNMs obtain master’s degrees in nursing and then continue their education and training through a Midwifery program. Midwifery training is focused on the reproductive care of women, providing prenatal care and supporting them through labor and delivery, as well as postnatal care and breastfeeding support. Midwives are a great choice if you are seeking a natural hospital birth, home birth, or a delivery in a birth center. Oftentimes midwives are well trained and passionate about water birth. While tubs are increasingly common in hospitals, water births at home or in birth centers can provide a level of comfort unmatched by what a hospital can provide.
Statistically, women seeking the assistance of a midwife are much less likely to require induction of labor, epidurals and pain medicine, and other invasive or surgical interventions. Costs vary from provider to provider and depending on region, however opting for a midwife is typically less expensive.
If you are in need of a c-section or have complications but still prefer a midwife, many offer collaborative care alongside hospitals. This would give you the option of seeing a midwife for your prenatal and postnatal care, while also seeing a doctor for your actual delivery. Regardless of what complications you may face, the combination of midwifery care alongside a doctor can be a great balance for many women.

Not sure where to start?

You may already have a doctor or midwife who has provided gynecological care for you in the past. If you are comfortable with that provider, many times they are a good place to start. Regardless of who you see, you will want to make sure you feel comfortable with your provider. It’s good to choose someone who you can communicate openly with, and who respects your preferences for your care plan and delivery. You will surely want to share this very special and vulnerable time with an expert who makes you feel safe, empowered and prepared.
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