Pregnancy is a wonderful journey that women go through. Whether you are a first-time mom or have had kids before, you’ll understandably want nothing but the best prenatal care for you and your baby. This includes choosing who will help you deliver your baby when the big day comes. So, the question is, will it be a physician or a midwife?
An obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) is a physician who specializes in pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system. They are in charge of making sure that you and your baby are in the best of health during your entire pregnancy as well as during labor and delivery. They are also trained to help you give birth either naturally (normal spontaneous delivery) or, if the situation calls for it, surgically (cesarean section).
What do midwives do? They are also trained and certified to provide the best care you and your baby need during your pregnancy and childbirth experience. Sometimes, they work with an ob-gyn in a hospital setting, but they can also assist should you prefer to deliver your baby in a birthing center and even at your home if your health permits.
Physicians and midwives: Your choice
Choosing between a physician and a midwife is a personal matter. However, it’s important to know what factors to consider when choosing the professional who will not only help you deliver your baby but also make sure that your pregnancy is safe during the whole journey. Some may find it easier to choose a pregnancy care provider based on the following factors:
- Your overall health during your pregnancy – You are considered high risk if you have any of the following diseases pre-pregnancy or had them in a previous pregnancy: diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy, or serious complications during your last pregnancy (such as preeclampsia, preterm labor, or miscarriage). In such cases, you’ll need to see an ob-gyn or someone who specializes in high-risk pregnancies (otherwise known as a perinatologist). Your well-being and your baby’s health are the top priority. Midwives mostly deal with low-risk pregnancies and births.
- Your birthing experience – Having a birth plan can most likely help you in choosing between a physician and a midwife. If you prefer a more holistic approach with minimal medical intervention during every step of childbirth, you may opt to have a midwife by your side. However, you can also choose to have a physician and discuss your birth plan. If you think that you’ll be needing an epidural, he may be able to give you a quick overview of what to expect during childbirth and all the possibilities that go with it.
- Your birthing facility – Should you choose to give birth at a hospital, more often than not, a physician will be there to guide you through the process. A midwife can also be present during your labor and delivery, but overall, the physician is in charge. In case you choose to give birth in a birthing center, a midwife will lead you through each and every step of your journey. Some mothers-to-be choose other birthing options, such as tub birth or water birth, and a midwife is trained to give you the best possible care should you choose these alternatives.
- Your expenses or insurance coverage – The cost of childbirth and even prenatal check-ups are also important considerations when choosing between a physician and a midwife. The cost of childbirth in the US ranges from $4,500 to $11,200 for vaginal birth and $5,100 to $15,000 for C-section. Understandably, you’ll want it to be covered by your insurance. So, it’s best to check with your insurance provider whether they will cover your childbirth expenses with your chosen healthcare professional. You may also want to find out if there are any costs your insurance plan doesn’t cover so you can prepare beforehand.
- Your relationship with your prenatal care provider – It’s important that you feel comfortable with your chosen pregnancy care provider. After all, he will be part of an important journey in your life. Moms who have given birth before will probably choose the same prenatal care provider because they have already built a relationship with their physician or midwife. For first-time moms, recommendations from family and friends can be valuable at this point, but over time, you will know and feel if your physician or midwife is the right one for you and your baby.
Are you looking for a prenatal care provider? Here are some important questions to ask before deciding on one.
Is it a physician or a midwife for me?
In my case, the choice is a physician from day 1. I know myself and that includes my pain tolerance pre-pregnancy, so having an epidural was a subject I discussed with my ob-gyn early on in all my pregnancies.
I also developed gestational diabetes, which put me at high risk. That made it essential to see my ob-gyn and regularly do blood tests to ensure there were no further complications in my pregnancies.
What do most women choose?
In the United States and some parts of the world, physicians are more popular than midwives when it comes to support during pregnancy and childbirth. However, since women are given the choice these days, a large number opt to go with midwives. Perhaps the most important thing is to choose someone you feel comfortable with, someone who will listen and suggest without imposing his own beliefs and will address your concerns about you and your baby.
Our body, our choice
So, will it be a physician or a midwife? The choice is yours. As a parent, your baby’s safety is your primary consideration. Choosing your childbirth partner will give you strength and the comfort of knowing that everything will be done to ensure the safe arrival of your precious little one into the world.