Choosing a midwife to deliver your baby is an exciting step! While a majority of women in the United States still opt to give birth in a hospital, more and more mothers are choosing midwives to be their prenatal care providers. According to data from IBIS World, the midwives and doulas industry grew by 3% from 2015 to 2020. Additionally, women with low-risk pregnancies who choose midwives over traditional doctors report greater satisfaction both prior to labor, shortly following the delivery, and for several weeks postpartum.
For any soon-to-be-mom, having the choice to work with a provider you feel comfortable with and trust is an empowering, satisfying experience. While every woman should consider her preferences and personal circumstances, many mothers find working with a midwife to be an excellent choice for them and their babies from prenatal to postpartum care. Additionally, many women – even those who are not currently pregnant – work with their midwife to take control of all aspects of women’s health.
It can be difficult to navigate options for prenatal care and labor and delivery. Understanding the difference between an OB-GYN and a midwife is essential for making this decision. Here are some of the services our We’re here to support you as you start this journey and help you brush up on the services our Palmer midwives provide.
Want to learn more about all the services we provide? Speak with our certified midwives.
Understanding the role of midwives in pregnancy
Many people know that midwives can help deliver babies in nontraditional settings, such as a home birth or birth center, while an OB-GYN strictly delivers in a hospital. However, there are several other important factors that differentiate midwives and obstetricians.
Level of support
An OB-GYN provides prenatal care and may even be present during their patient’s birth, but the level of involvement from an obstetrician is often limited. Soon-to-be-moms can almost always expect that their midwife will be present during the birth, and many midwives offer nutritional advice, lactation support, and longer appointment times to better address the changes that pregnancy brings.
Midwives can be a good option for low-risk pregnancies. However, women who are considered high risk (such as having a history of previous pregnancy complications, diabetes, or issues with the placenta, cervix, or uterus) may need to work with an OB-GYN, which can be in addition to care from a certified nurse midwife. Your midwife can advise you on this and help you make a decision.
Midwives typically don’t administer pain relief during labor, relying instead on natural methods such as movement and the application of heat. If you desire stronger pain-management methods, such as an epidural, it is important to know that the delivery will need to take place at a hospital. It’s also important to note that midwives primarily help women who choose vaginal births and cannot perform C-sections.
Certification and education
While both OB-GYNs and midwives are certified health providers, the training process differs. OB-GYNs must have a bachelor’s degree, a medical degree, and up to seven years in an internship and residency program. Midwives, on the other hand, have several options for becoming certified depending on location:
- Certified nurse midwives: A CNM has completed nursing school, can write prescriptions, provide a wide variety of women’s health services, and can work in every type of birth setting in all 50 states, including hospitals.
- Certified midwives: While CMs also have a graduate-level education in the health industry, the field they studied in wasn’t nursing. They can only practice in Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Delaware, and Missouri.
- Certified professional midwives: Certified to work in 33 states, including Alaska, CPMs do not have a formal university education but have completed certain coursework, such as that from a midwifery education program by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council and often undergo an apprenticeship. They must also pass an evaluation process by the North American Registry of Midwives.
Full range of midwifery services
Midwives offer highly personalized prenatal care services, birth plans, and postpartum care to support women through every step of the pregnancy process. Lactation support begins after birth and may continue for the months following if any issues with breastfeeding arise.
For women who aren’t seeking a midwife for pregnancy-related care, midwives can address a wide range of other women’ healthcare services:
- Well woman exams
- Pap smears
- STD diagnosis and treatment
- Birth control options
- Conception and fertility treatments
- Menopause support
- Hormone replacement
When seeing a midwife for these services, many women enjoy the informative, relational approach most midwives employ, and services are often holistic in nature. Women who formed a good relationship with their midwife during pregnancy can continue seeing the same healthcare provider through different walks of life.
Interested in women’s healthcare from a midwife? Contact us to learn more.