A Midwife Versus A Doctor

The choice between choosing a doctor or midwife merits looking into. Your health and preferences will ultimately determine your choice.

Congratulations! You have just taken your first home pregnancy test and found out that yes, you are indeed pregnant. Now the vast number of choices await your approval - from cloth or disposable diapers to using a doctor or a midwife. First things first. Right now you need to narrow down your research to choosing a care provider so you can make that first appointment. But which to choose? Here is a rundown of the pros and cons to both doctors and midwives.

Doctors that delivers babies are called obstetricians (doctors for pregnant women), usually they double as a gynecologist (women's doctor). Some family practitioners deliver babies but most of the time it's the OB/GYN that is the choice of doctors for pregnant women.

Doctor Pros

1. Expertise. Should a problem occur, doctors are well educated and very equipped to handle most every emergency situation and condition - up to and including performing a cesarean section if necessary.

2. Doctors don't have to answer to anyone else in the event of an emergency. With their knowledge and experience they can comfortably handle every pregnancy situation that may arise.

3. Doctors can order pain relief - such as Demerol or an epidural if the laboring mom requests it.

Doctor Cons

1. Lack of personal attention. Doctors see many patients a day and as a result most appointments will be rushed. During labor and delivery, most of the time, a doctor may come in once during labor and will arrive just in time to "catch" the baby.

2. Unnecessary medical procedures. A lot of doctors have standing orders for a laboring mom to receive an IV - whether or not she truly needs one. Doctors have varying opinions on what positions they will allow a woman to birth in. If you are one who has definite preferences about birthing positions and medical procedures, be sure to discuss them with your doctor well before your due date.

3. Cost is *usually higher than that of a midwife.

Midwives are educated through a certification process. Some midwives are certified nurse midwives - a registered nurse with qualifications for midwifery and others are considered direct-entry midwives, meaning that they received their education through experience and hands-on learning, usually under an experienced midwife.

Midwife Pros

1. Personal attention. Midwives offer more personal attention than that of doctors. They have less of a patient load and are able to spend more time during each prenatal visit as well as usually spending the entire time during the labor and birth.

2. No enforced medical procedures. Because midwives aren't doctors, they do not use IV's and allow the freedom of an all natural birth.

3. Most of the time, midwives charge less than doctors do.

Midwife Cons

1. If an emergency arises a midwife will have to refer you to a doctor to handle it.

2. They can not administer pain medications such as Demerol or an epidural if the laboring mom desires it.

3. They can not write prescriptions if medication is needed.

In my experience with the midwives in my particular area - the cost to hire a midwife to assist in pregnancy and childbirth are the same - and sometimes more - depending on which OB/GYN you compare too - as the doctors that deliver babies. The only way to cut back on the cost of pregnancy and childbirth would be to hire a midwife for a home birth.

The choice between a doctor and a midwife also depends upon your health and the health of your pregnancy. If you are a "high-risk" pregnancy - you will probably have to go with a doctor. Otherwise the choice is up to you. Whether you choose a doctor or a midwife, keep the above pros and cons in mind. If you are someone who strongly believes in an all natural birth experience, then a midwife is the best choice. If you are someone who doesn't deal well with pain and may need some pain relief during labor and delivery, your best served with a doctor. Both doctors and midwives offer excellent care.

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