Mothers-to-be have many choices to make during the course of their pregnancy: whether to have a gender-reveal party, how to decorate the baby’s new room, what name to choose, and much more. One of the biggest questions that a future mom needs to decide is what kind of care provider she will visit during pregnancy.
Types of Pregnancy Care Providers
There are several different types of care providers a woman can visit during the course of her pregnancy. She can choose to seek care from one or all of the below, depending on her preference and her situation.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Department (OB-GYN)
An obstetrician is a medical professional who provides all-in-one care for an expecting mother. They are experienced in low-risk and high-risk pregnancies, and have the capability and resources to provide medical intervention during childbirth should the need arise. An OB-GYN can prescribe medication, offer health advice, and answer many questions future parents may have.
A family physician has a wide scope of knowledge in many fields, including pregnancy. A family physician can deliver babies in low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies. They are trained to know when situation is out of their depth, and will consult an Obstetrician if needed. In some cases, an Obstetrician may assume care of a patient following complications.
A doula is a labor support companion who is in constant contact with mother during labor and birth. She does not replace husband or partner, but enhances the experience with the goal of making childbirth empowering and as comfortable as possible.
A doula does not provide any medical care, but uses non-medicated pain-relief techniques to help relax the mother during labor and childbirth. Her calming, reassuring presence often makes for an empowering birth experience.
Prior to the birth, a doula helps the mother create a birth plan, and answers questions or concerns the mother may have. A doula may also be called birth assistants, labor support specialists, or labor companions.
A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is an alternative to a physician who can deliver babies in low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies. A midwife may need to consult an Obstetrician for certain questions or concerns. In some cases, they may need to defer a patient with complications to an obstetrician.
A midwife provides personalized care before, during, and after pregnancy. She also spends more time with the mother, acting as a personal pregnancy coach. A midwife usually lowers the amount of medical intervention needed during labor and childbirth.
What is the Difference Between an Obstetrician and a Midwife?
A midwife can perform many of the same roles as an obstetrician in normal pregnancies, but are limited in what they can do when complications arise. The difference between an obstetrician and a midwife largely comes down to the type of experience an expecting mother wants to have.
Generally, a mother seeking a midwife’s services desires a natural childbirth experience that limits the amount of medical intervention. She is not limited to a hospital setting, but can deliver her baby at a birth center or at home.
Benefits of a Midwife
- Usually, little-to-no medical intervention is required with a midwife
- A midwife always needs backup plan in case of emergency
- Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) can write prescriptions only in certain states
- Usually works with OB-GYN doctors to provide the best care possible
- Offers therapy, support, and reassurance to the mother-to-be
- Knowledgeable about activities that promote a woman’s health
An OB/GYN provides a more hospital-based experience. Mothers will be under the care of a practicing doctor who is well-equipped to handle any unforeseen complications that may arise. An OB/GYN can deliver any baby, but is especially valuable for mothers with high-risk pregnancies.
Benefits of an OB/GYN
- An obstetrician is well-equipped to handle complications that may arise with the mother and baby
- Can perform emergency C-section or other necessary procedures
- Has larger arsenal of resources at their disposal
- Can offer information and advice to future parents
- An all-in-one resource for new parents
The choice between a midwife or obstetrician depends on several things, such as the risk of your particular pregnancy, and your desired outcome. These are all questions you should consider when you are deciding what kind of care provider you would like during your pregnancy.