Having a baby is an exciting time for a woman. But it also comes with many choices. One such choice is whether to use a doctor or a midwife as her pregnancy healthcare provider. It's a very personal decision, one that each woman must make for herself and based on her own health and pregnancy history. But it's also important to understand the differences between a doctor and a midwife in order to make the best possible decision. So what are those differences.

The Overlap

The first thing to know is that a doctor and a midwife are not mutually exclusive. A midwife can also be a doctor and vice versa. However, not every doctor can do what midwives do. Both provide sound medical advice every step of your pregnancy and after. Both can be present at your child’s birth, and both will use medical procedure to ensure that you and your baby are healthy and at the stages you need to be. Midwives, however, offer more than that.

Midwives Are More Emotionally Supportive

Midwives care about the physical health of you and your baby, but also your emotional and mental health. They spend a little more time with you during your initial consultation and other prenatal appointments, getting to know you. They allow you more say in your care, so you can ask questions, educate yourself, and express concerns or desires for your pregnancy and/or labor. They don't perform unnecessary or invasive testing, and when they do recommend a test, they explain why they recommend it.

Doctors Handle Higher-Risk Pregnancies and Complications

Midwives handle low-risk pregnancies and deliveries. Doctors are trained to handle pregnancies and deliveries that are higher risk, such as women who have a previous history of difficult pregnancies or C-sections. Both midwives and doctors will go over your medical history, including previous pregnancies, to determine if you are considered a high-risk pregnancy.
Even if you have a low-risk pregnancy and choose to see a midwife, if you need a C-section or have other complications, a doctor will be called in to take over your care in order to ensure the best possible outcome for both you and your baby. You can actually have your birth in a hospital with your midwife there and all of the benefits of emergency medical equipment on hand.

Midwives Give More Birth Options

Midwives offer their services in birthing centers that often look and feel much more like your own home. Some even offer their services in your own home. This allows you to feel more relaxed and calmer when giving birth. You have more freedom to move around, to eat or drink, and to try different positions and birthing tools to make your labor and delivery easier. Many offer birthing pools for water births, and all seek to emphasize comfort of mother and child during and after birth. Even if you don’t want to give birth in a birthing center, however, your midwife can come wherever you go to give birth. That’s the best part of midwives—it’s never an either-or situation.
Pregnancy and giving birth can be both scary and exciting. Choosing between a midwife and a doctor is an important decision. Understanding what each has to offer allows you to make the choice that is best for both you and your baby.

Author's Bio: 

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure.