If you’re planning on getting pregnant or are currently pregnant, chances are you will need to find a care provider. But what’s the difference between a midwife and an OB-GYN? Keep reading.
When choosing your postpartum care provider, you must find someone who validates your concerns, answers your questions, and helps you feel heard and supported.
For some new or expecting mothers, an OB-GYN fills that role. For others, a midwife is their healthcare provider of choice. When choosing between the two, it’s essential to know the differences between them and which type of provider would be the best fit for you and your journey to motherhood.
What is the difference between an OB-GYN and a Midwife?
A closer look at OB-GYNs
Although they can both deliver babies, an Obstetrician-gynecologist is a medical doctor specializing in women’s health. They are medical professionals who attended medical school, completed a residency, and in many cases, are board certified, meaning they have other professional experience.
They are very well experienced and can perform C-sections if a mother needs one.
OB/GYN also has experience with high-risk pregnancies. They know the best route to take if a mother is experiencing any health complications related to the pregnancy.
They can prescribe medication and take extra measures to ensure the mother and baby are delivered safely.
|OB-GYN||Certified Nurse Midwife|
|Education Level||Medical School||Nursing Masters with Midwifery Specialty|
|Pregnancy Risk Level||High and low risk||Low risk|
|Birthing Location||Hospital||Hospital, birthing center, and home births|
|Provider Availability||Must reach via a receptionist||Typically 24/7 by phone|
|Appointment Duration||15-20 minutes||1 hour or more|
|Accepts Insurance?||Yes||Varies by state|
A closer look at midwifery care
Midwives are also health care professionals who provide obstetric and gynecological services, annual exams, and prenatal care. They tend to care for low-risk pregnancies and home births.
Most midwives attend water births, home births, or at birthing centers. Some midwives even work in birthing centers within traditional hospitals. A midwife could not assist a mother who may need a C-section or is high risk.
A midwife is almost always available 24/7 for their patients; not only are they there during labor and delivery, but they also offer emotional support during the process.
They are hands-on and available and will assess any problem that may come their way unless it requires a visit to the emergency room.
It’s important to note that there are different types of midwives:
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)* º
- Certified Midwife (CM)º
- Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)
* Has RN licensure
º Attainment of knowledge, skills, and professional behaviors as identified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Education (source)
What is better? A midwife or an OB-GYN?
While there is no direct answer to this question, there are a few things to consider when considering going the traditional route of an OB-GYN or midwife.
- Are you a high-risk or low-risk pregnancy?
- Are you planning a natural birth or a C-section?
- Are you considering a home birth or delivering in a hospital?
Some other factors to consider when choosing between providers are:
- Your in-office experience
- Provider availability
- Your birth experience
- Cost of services
These are essential factors when deciding between a midwife or OB-GYN.
Your in-office experience
Another critical factor is the difference in office visits between midwives and visiting your OB doctor. OB doctor visits are usually between 15-30 minutes; meanwhile, a midwife appointment may last about an hour, and you can sometimes schedule on weekends.
Often, you can contact a midwife via cellphone, depending on your needs and availability. To book or contact your OB/GYN, you must schedule and speak to the receptionist or medical assistant.
Your birth experience
With a midwife, you control your decisions about how you would like your labor and delivery. You can make most of the rules, and they support your needs and access you on your terms.
With an OB/GYN, practices and protocols are limited based on the pregnancy.
Cost of each provider
The cost for a midwife varies by state. It’s essential to research and find someone you think will be the best fit for you and your family’s needs. Check with your health insurance to see what midwives (if any) are covered within your network.
OB-GYN majority take many different insurances and do not always need to pay out of pocket.
Final thoughts on choosing a midwife or OB-GYN
Ultimately, choosing which care provider you prefer is up to you. For those wanting more hands-on experience and who are considered low-risk, a midwife might be your best option. For those who are high-risk or prefer traditional medical care, an OB-GYN could be your preferred route.