Perhaps one of the biggest decisions a pregnant woman has to make pertains to whom to entrust her care throughout her pregnancy. There are two types of care providers for pregnant women: obstetricians and midwives.
When deciding which provider to work with, you will have to consider certain factors. These include the type of pregnancy that you have and the type of childbirth method you prefer.
It pays to know the similarities and differences between an obstetrician and a midwife—as far as their training, credentials, the scope of their services, and the approach they use—to make a well-informed decision. Let’s delve deeper.
Albeit obstetricians and midwives are part of the same specialty area, the education, training, and credentials they hold are not the same
For one to become an obstetrician, they need to complete medical school and undergo four years of residency training and three years of fellowship training. For one to become a midwife, on the other hand, they have to hold either a certified professional midwife (CPM) or a certified midwife (CM) credential. To be a certified nurse midwife (CNM), one must first become a registered nurse prior to completing a graduate program in midwifery and passing the CNM certification exam
An obstetrician and a midwife both provide care throughout a woman’s pregnancy all the way through the postpartum period and guide the patient through such important life transitions.
However, there is a stark distinction in their specializations. Obstetricians also care for women with gynecologic/reproductive health problems and those with sensitive or complicated pregnancies: they also perform procedures other than those related to childbirth. Obstetrics and gynecology are considered one specialty, thus the designation, OB/GYN.
Midwives can only care for women with low-risk pregnancies, whereas obstetricians— with their medical training— can provide care for all types of pregnancies. Patients with multiple pregnancies or who have preexisting medical conditions are safest in the care of an obstetrician.
Another thing that differentiates a midwife from an OBGYN is that the former can work in birthing centers, in patients’ homes, and in hospitals.
Midwives utilize a holistic approach to delivery: they are proponents of vaginal births, as such method has fewer complications and provides greater benefit to both the mother and the child. Pain management techniques midwives employ include massages, homeopathy, and the use of birthing balls. Water births are a midwife’s specialty.
Obstetricians, on the other hand, are versatile and flexible. An obstetrician will use any type of delivery method and pain management approach as deemed necessary and applicable to a patient’s situation.
A midwife remains by the side of the patient during the delivery, unless a complication arises. In such a case, either an obstetrician will be called in, or the patient will be transferred to a hospital. The midwife will stay with the patient prior to the location transfer or until an obstetrician takes over.
Obstetricians deliver babies in the delivery room, and this allows them to quickly respond in the event of a complication. However, obstetricians tend to employ a routine approach to delivery as they usually need to attend to a lot of patients; thus, they may be unable to devote time to a single patient.
MIDWIFE ADVANTAGE: EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
Perhaps the biggest selling point of midwives is their distinct delivery of compassionate, personalized care. Midwives are recognized for the superior emotional support they give to their patients—before, during, and after pregnancy. This makes a big difference in how the mother feels throughout the different stages of pregnancy.
OBSTETRICIAN ADVANTAGE: MEDICAL TRAINING
Obstetricians—with their extensive medical training in clinical and hospital settings—can care for women with all types of pregnancies. Obstetricians are equipped to effectively handle complications, such as preeclampsia, preterm labor, and breech presentation, and ensure successful deliveries.
OBSTETRICIANS IN WOOSTER, OH
At Wooster Community Hospital, we have our Women’s Pavilion—a dedicated obstetrical unit at our facility—which we designed to provide superior comfort and family-centered maternity care, making each of our patient’s birthing experiences as memorable as possible.
We have a highly trained nursing staff and board-certified obstetricians who are dedicated to providing our patients with the highest quality of maternity care and are always ready to accommodate their birth plans and wishes. With our obstetric care team’s advanced and ongoing education, you can rest assured that you will have a safe and successful delivery.