The Birth Wars – Midwives Vs. Gynaes

Midwife or doctorWhen you first find out you are pregnant, a thousand things race through your mind and the realisation dawns on you that there are so many decisions to be made. One of those all important decisions is who is going to take care of you during your pregnancy!

One’s first instinct is to only have a gynaecologist as this has most likely been indoctrinated into you by society as a whole. However, one does have a choice of who takes care of you during and after your pregnancy.

The birth wars have raged for so long that I think the facts about both sides have been rather skewed. Horror stories of good births gone bad also account for a lot of bad publicity for both sides. How do you distinguish fact from fiction?

One has to remember that there is nothing more natural than being born. Pregnancy, despite popular perception, is not a disease. You are not ill, you are expecting. Your body is amazing and it knows exactly what to do and when to do it. Your body is not the same as someone else’s so why be taken care of by someone who treats you like it is?

In all fairness there are pros and cons for both sides of the argument but let’s take the emotion out of it for just a second and look at the facts.

Doctor Pros

  • Reassurance – There is no doubt that having a gynae provides reassurance in that if anything went wrong, you are in a hospital with the best equipment available with a doctor who is an expert.
  • Should you need a caesarean, the same care giver would perform the operation.
  • You might already have a very strong relationship with your gynae which was built over years of routine checks.
  • An epidural is an option with a gynae and not a midwife.

Doctor Cons

  • Should your gynae be on leave or on the golf course when you need to deliver, a locum who you have never met will deliver your baby.
  • Due to a gynae seeing so many patients a day, you may not get the personal attention you would get otherwise. Most often, during labour and delivery, your doctor might check on you while you are labouring and only come back to -catch the baby.
  • Your gynae may not be very flexible with regards to your requests. For example, some might prefer you to give birth in a certain position or have a water birth.
  • Gynaes are far more expensive than midwives.

Midwife Pros

  • You will get far more personal attention from a midwife than a gynae. They have less of a patient load and are able to be with you during your entire labour and birth.
  • You will not be forced into have any medical procedures you don’t want. You have more chance of having the birth you want with a midwife than a gynae.
  • Although midwives are not able to give you an epidural, they are able to give you pain killers such as gas or pethidine.
  • Midwives will listen to your wants and needs and do their best to give you the birth that you want.  You are in control of your labour and birth unless there is a problem at which time they take the necessary medical action.
  • Midwives are less expensive than gynaes.
  • You are able to have a home or hospital birth with midwives. With midwives you are able to have your family, including other children with you when you deliver. In a hospital setting this is not an option.
  • Because midwives prepare you for a more natural delivery, they spend more time with you during your appointments.
  • Midwives are generally available 24/7.

Midwives Cons

  • If things don’t go according to plan you will be seen to by a doctor who you have never met or rushed to hospital in the case of a home birth which can be very stressful.
  • Midwives are unable to give you an epidural.
  • Midwives are unable to provide you with a prescription should you need one.

Ultimately what makes you feel comfortable will be the right decision for you and your partner. From my personal experience, using both a gynaecologist and midwife works beautifully should you be honest and upfront about your requirements or expectations from the first appointment.

Most gynaecologists are a bit averse to being a -back up but there are a few out there. On the other hand, midwives insist that you have a -back up doctor so that you feel comfortable with someone should something go wrong as well as to have regular sonars and blood tests.


 – Candice Shelley


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