If you're expecting a child, you're looking into prenatal care, as well as a trusted professional who is qualified to bring your baby into the world in a safe and healthy manner. Both midwives and obstetricians offer this type of service, but they are distinctly different. These differences in care can dictate the type of birth you have, depending on your specific needs and the needs of your child.
So, what are the differences?
Midwifery is ancient in practice-- women have been delivering babies for thousands of years, and so having a midwife instantly ties you to centuries of tradition and trusted natural methods of birth. With a midwife, you can expect:
- a more personal level of care. Usually, a prenatal appointment with a midwife goes longer, and the midwife is more present with you as you labor and prepare for birth.
- a natural-birth friendly environment. Many midwives respect a mother's birthing choices, including refusing inductions and pain killers. If you are looking for a care provider who supports you in these choices, midwifery is the first place to look. Water births and hypnosis are more common with midwife services.
- flexibility in birthing facilities. Midwives can practice in the hospital, but they can also work in birthing centers or even be there for home deliveries. If you prefer a more intimate setting for birth, you'll need to choose a midwife for your care.
Many natural-minded moms believe that midwife care is superior to obstetric care, for the reasons listed above. Studies show that women flourish under the care of modern midwives. However, just because care from an obstetrician gynecologist is different, it does not mean that it is somehow inferior to midwife care. With and OB/GYN, you can expect:
- a more medically-minded birth procedure.
- a hospital birth with full supportive staff.
- peace of mind, knowing that if something were to go wrong, your care provider can act quickly to save your life or the life of your baby.
- access to pain medication, medical interventions, and induction drugs in order to accelerate or redirect labor.
Which should you choose?
Most of your decision will come from weighing the pros and cons, and what you want specifically out of your birth experience. However, there are some key factors that will influence whether or not you will need interventions during delivery.
Midwives are very capable birthing professionals. They know methods for delivering a baby that is breech, or for helping a mother to get into a good position for birth. They also know what to look for during labor, and are able to spot irregularities early. However, because modern medicine has provided some life-saving procedures, midwives only choose low-risk patients so that fewer lives are put in jeopardy due to unforeseen complications. Depending on the midwife, your pregnancy may be considered high risk, and therefore better suited for obstetric care, if:
- you are expecting twins. Multiples during pregnancy and birth increase the chances of complications, including premature delivery, postpartum bleeding, or breech or transverse positions.
- you have had serious pregnancy complications in the past. If you have had a stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, a c-section, or other complications, your midwife might suggest seeing an obstetrician instead, as you will need more monitoring of your health, as well as the health of your baby.
- you have had multiple c-sections. Vaginal deliveries become more complicated when you c-section rate has increased.
If you feel that midwife care is right for you, you should schedule a consultation. You will most likely qualify for this kind of care if:
- you are a first time mom.
- you have had a successful vaginal delivery in the past with few complications.
- you have had a c-section, but have successfully given birth vaginally since then.
If you wish to have to benefits of midwife care, but you are a high-risk patient, choose a midwife who works under an obstetrician. This way, if complications arise, surgical hands are close by. Also, if a midwife is working under an OB/GYN, you will have the safety net of the hospital while still having a personable experience and some flexibility during labor.
For more information, check out sites like http://www.whallc.com.