Pregnancy Pregnancy - General

Doctor or Midwife? The Pros and Cons

Midwife or Doctor?Which prenatal caregiver is right for you?

While it’s true that there are few times in a woman’s life quite as exciting as pregnancy, it is also a time that is fraught with life-changing questions and decisions.

Am I ready for this baby? What name to choose? Is the house safe? Is the car big enough? Will I be a good parent? Breast or bottle? The list of pressing issues can seem endless and, for the already hormonally charged mother-to-be, can at times feel completely overwhelming.

But take our advice, and make a decision on the following question before you think about any of the others:
Who will be my caregiver during this pregnancy?

Whether to rely on a midwife or a doctor during this special time is a matter on which you’ll need clarity from the get-go, because nothing is as important (on both physical and emotional fronts) than expert guidance and care from the very beginning of your pregnancy, right up until the moment your beautiful baby is born.

It’s a big decision, and the differences between these two kinds of prenatal caregivers are significant. So will you play it safe and put your trust in a doctor who has all the medications and emergency equipment you may need on hand? Or will it be the midwife with the great bedside manner and the possibility of a laid-back homebirth?

Ultimately, your specific circumstances will determine whether you opt for an obstetrician or a midwife. But to make that call, you’ll need to be clued up on who’s who in the zoo. So make that cup of tea you’ve been craving, get out a pen and some paper to make a few notes, then read through our list of the top 4 pros and cons for each caregiver before making a calm, informed decision.

 

Conventional Route

The Doctor

Once the choice of only a select few women – usually those with medical complications or special needs – ob/gyns (physicians who specialise in both obstetrics and gynaecology) are favoured by the majority of pregnant women in today’s technology-obsessed society. Childbirth used to be a run-of-the-mill event that happened at home, usually assisted by the local midwife or family doctor. But in the modern world, it has become the norm to turn to the ob/gyn and the clinical confines of a hospital.

 Here are our top 4 advantages and disadvantages of choosing a doctor or ob/gyn for your prenatal care:

 

Doctor:  The Pros

 1. Familiarity

 You may already be under the care of an ob/gyn, so if you trust him, and the doctor-patient relationship is a good one, he’ll understand you better than anyone else will.

 2. Expertise

 Ob/gyns are trained professionals who have spent many years studying the subject of pregnancy and childbirth. This expertise will give you peace of mind that, should anything go wrong, your doctor will be there to handle the emergency.

 3. Pain management

 Doctors are able to prescribe and administer various drugs and medications as well as order an epidural should you decide to go that route during labour, whereas midwives aren’t qualified to do either.

 4. The option of a C-section

 If you’re partial to (or at least open to the idea of) having a C-section, a qualified ob/gyn is the only way to go. Midwives advocate and assist in natural birth only and, while they can have an ob/gyn on call, this is only in case of emergencies.

 

Doctor:  The Cons

 1. Lack of personal attention

 Doctors are known for their clinical approach and, when compared to that of a midwife, an ob/gyn’s bedside manner often leaves much to be desired. If you’re looking for a hand to hold and an encouraging smile, the ob/gyn is probably not the right choice.

 2. So much to do, so little time

 Don’t be surprised if your doctor’s familiar face is nowhere to be seen, and in its place is that of the locum or nursing staff. Doctors are busy, and you may not get much of his time until right before your baby’s grand appearance.

 3. Intolerance

 Notorious for their contempt for alternative and natural remedies (not to mention unusual birthing options), doctors are believed to encourage more invasive procedures and unnecessary medication than a midwife would.

 4. The price isn’t right

 When compared to giving birth at home with a midwife in attendance, paying for an ob/gyn and a hospital delivery (especially an elective caesarean) is a very expensive exercise.

 

Alternative Route

The Midwife

Midwifery has been in existence for as long as… well… for as long as people have populated the planet, and still has its place in modern society. Since the dawn of time, women have had a supportive and knowledgeable midwife by their side for the birth of their children, so why change what works? Advancements in medicine, the elective caesarean and the fact that more women are having babies later in life (often leading to high-risk pregnancies) have all been instrumental in the rise in popularity of the ob/gyn as prenatal caregiver of choice. Having said that, myriad women around the world choose to give birth with the assistance of a midwife, and would have it no other way.

 

 Here are our top 4 advantages and disadvantages of choosing a midwife for your prenatal care:

Midwife:  The Pros

 1. Flexibility

 With a midwife, you get to choose the birth that’s right for you: have your baby how you want, where you want and surrounded by the people you want. This flexibility leads to a more relaxed labour, which can result in fewer interventions and less medication.

 2. The personal touch

 Midwives offer invaluable guidance and friendship to their patients. The value of this support cannot be overstated, and is also the reason given by the vast majority of women for choosing a midwife for subsequent pregnancies.

 3. Experience

 Far from being less qualified than medical doctors, midwifes have in most cases delivered just as many (if not more) babies than the average ob/gyn. This practical experience often means that less intervention is required, with fewer episiotomies, epidurals and medical procedures being carried out in midwife-assisted births. Many midwives these days have also had experience in waterbirth and hypnobirth, which may be an option for you.

 4. Good for the budget

 Apart from the advantages of being in one’s own comforting environment, giving birth at home with a midwife in attendance is substantially cheaper than going the doctor/hospital route.

 

Midwife:  The Cons

1. A hospital setting is safer

 There is no argument: a clinic is an impersonal, sometimes unwelcoming, place to give birth compared to the warm familiarity of your own home or cozy maternity home. That being said, there is great comfort in knowing that, in a hospital, medical help is just seconds away should an emergency arise.

 2. Lack of medical expertise

 Midwives are not trained doctors and, as such, don’t have the level of medical know-how that an ob/gyn does. Her training could have been completed decades ago, too, which means that she is simply not up to speed on advancements in the field of childbirth.

 3. Medication is not an option

 Unless your midwife has a doctor on call, access to pain medication is limited. This may be fine if all goes smoothly, but if you have a particularly painful or prolonged labour, you may want to keep your options open.

 4. Midwives are limited to low-risk pregnancies

 Due to their limitations, the services of midwives are recommended only if the patient is fit as a fiddle and the pregnancy poses no risk. So if you are classified as high-risk, there’s not much to decide – it is most likely that you will be strongly advised to place yourself under the care of a specialist ob/gyn and have your baby in a well-equipped clinic.

 


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