Modern mothers-to-be have lots of decisions to tend with regards to determining the best, safest way to deliver their baby. And for first-time moms, one is whether to choose an obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyn) or certified nurse-midwives (CNM) to oversee their deliveries. Here are some considerations to help you determine which option may best for you and your baby.
OBs vs. Midwives
An obstetrician-gynecologist, or OB-GYN, is a licensed medical doctor with specialty training in female reproductive health, pregnancy and childbirth. Some OB-GYNs also serve as primary care doctors, while others only focus on the female reproductive system.
A certified nurse-midwife (CNW) earns a master’s degree and is board certified as both a registered nurse and certified midwife. Midwives enable mothers to experience childbirth as naturally as possible, as well as providing certain services that may include family planning, fertility, contraceptive and reproductive education.
Both CNWs and OBs may conduct annual gynecological examinations, preconception and prenatal care, as well as labor and delivery. Their services may also include nutrition, exercise, breastfeeding and infant care; as well as menopausal management.
Choosing a Midwife
Depending on the pregnancy, midwives have been known to:
- Decrease cesarean births
- Reduce labor induction and augmentation
- Reduce use of anesthesia
- Decrease preterm births
- Decrease perineal tears
Midwives consult with and refer necessary cases to obstetricians, perinatologists, and other healthcare professionals. Birthing centers are usually staffed by CNMs, and are unique in being supportive environments for natural births without routine interventions and medications. They welcome companions for the laboring mother including doulas, family, friends, and siblings. Many midwives offer home births, which can be more comfortable and familiar, natural, less expensive, and in line with certain religious practices than hospital deliveries. And, while not reliant on insurance parameters such as length of stay, some insurance companies may offer full or partial compensation for home birth claims.
When to Choose an Ob-Gyn
When a pregnancy is difficult or high-risk, it may be to the moms-to-be’s benefit to choose an OB. OBs usually work with a team of other medical professionals to offer anesthesia and emergency treatment during the birth. Many women prefer knowing their doctor may be skilled in surgical procedures, or that their hospital offers neo-natal and emergency support.
The decision to go with a birth center or home birth with a midwife, or in a hospital with ob-gyn supervision, medical interventions and augmentation boils down to your own individual needs. Today, obstetricians remain the most common recourse for pregnant women, although certified nurse-midwives are becoming more popular. Some women choose practices that have both traditional OB medicine and holistic offerings. Research shows that fetal and maternal outcomes are equally good when comparing OB-GYN and midwife normal births.
Women seek obstetrical and gynecological health care at different stages of their lives for different reasons, looking for a combination of both skill and compassion in providers. At University OB/GYN Associates, we provide both. As medical school faculty, our physicians work on the cutting edge of patient care, research, and education, and they enjoy national and international reputations as scholars, teachers, and healers. If you are interested in the many specialties we have to offer – including OBs and midwife services – call University OB/GYN Associates at (315) 464-5162 to request an appointment or request one online.