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Can I Have a Midwife Help Deliver My Baby at a Hospital?

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Once you discover you’re pregnant, especially after struggling to conceive, the emotions can be overwhelming, joyful, and even a dash of trepidation. You have so much to look forward to, but at the same time, many women are fearful of the unknown. Will you have a boy or a girl? How will you tell your friends, family, and even your boss that you’re expecting a baby? Perhaps the most important question is: “What will I do next?”

A decision that pregnant women and their significant others must make is who will care for them during their pregnancy and help throughout the labor and delivery of their newborn. The most common choice women have is to make an appointment with an obstetrician (OB/GYN) as a trusted, reliable person to help navigate their pregnancy and ensure their baby is healthy and safe during the 40 weeks of pregnancy. Still, it’s important to know your options.

Another path you can take is opting for a midwife, who is fully capable of delivering a healthy baby for low-risk pregnancies. Trained, certified midwives have specialized education and experience in their field and are committed to their patient’s safety and comfort. They are also very passionate about their job and want to make sure that mothers and babies are healthy, happy, and safe while giving you the best birth experience possible. You probably have a vision for how you hope your prenatal care and birth will go, but you might not be sure whether a midwife or an OB/GYN is the better choice for you.

While both OB/GYNs and midwives are advanced specialists who share similar credentials, each has different training and educational requirements to hold their professional titles. For example, OB/GYNs are medical doctors and hold surgical training to perform C-sections when necessary. They have completed 4 years of medical school, a 4-year residency program, and a 3-year fellowship. Many go on to earn board-certification as an additional mark of distinction.

On the other hand, midwives have different credentials. There are certified professional midwives, certified midwives, and certified nurse-midwives (CNM). The most advanced of these 3 certifications is the CNM, as they are registered nurses (RNs) with advanced nursing degrees and certifications from the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Should I Choose a Midwife or an OB/GYN?

Depending on your needs for your health and that of your baby, you may want a practitioner with specific experience. For instance, OB/GYNs are better suited to manage high-risk/complicated pregnancies, especially for women expecting multiples or those who have preexisting conditions. Midwives are better suited to low-risk pregnancies and births that require fewer, if any, interventions.

Midwives are known for a “low tech, high tech” tactic for birthing, which means mothers are not induced and typically do not receive any pain medication, such as an epidural. They are also known for delivering babies at the patient’s home, a freestanding birth center, or even a hospital-based birth center as part of the care team to deliver a baby.

Meanwhile, OB/GYNs can and will induce labor when necessary, but can also handle natural births without administering pain medication. Should you need a C-section, you must see an OB/GYN for safe delivery. OB/GYNs have surgical training, which is the primary reason they handle high-risk, complicated pregnancies, while midwives do not.

Choosing an OB/GYN or a Midwife: What to Consider

Deciding between an OB/GYN or a midwife is a personal decision only you can make, but your doctor will guide you to the best option for your health and safety.

These questions will help you decide:

  • Is my pregnancy high risk? If so, you should work with an OB/GYN or a maternal-fetal medicine doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. Women who are deemed “high risk” usually have a preexisting medical condition or are expecting multiples.
  • Where do I want to deliver my baby? Women who are considered low risk may opt for a home birth with a midwife as their primary care provider. However, hospitals are always the safest place to deliver a baby, especially because unexpected complications may arise at any time during delivery.
  • What kind of pain management do I want during labor and delivery? Labor is called “labor” because it is just that – it’s not easy. Whether you’re planning to forego the pain medication or you know you’ll want an epidural, your choice may be decided for you. Midwives specialize in little to no pain medication, whereas OB/GYNs can provide epidurals so you feel no pain below the waist.
  • Other questions: You may want to know what kind of team your doctor or midwife works with (do they use a team of specialists focused in multiple areas?), you’ll want to know the ongoing care they provide after the birth, and you’ll also want to ensure your insurance covers the provider you are interested in having.

Do you have questions about midwives versus OB/GYN care? Contact us at Palm Beach Fertility Center by dialing (888) 819-5177 today.