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Doctor or midwife: Which should you choose?

Now that you know that you are pregnant, you may begin to think about the type of prenatal care and labor and delivery you desire. With so many questions that pregnant mothers have, it may be hard to decide between an OB GYN and midwives or doulas. Discover the differences between each, what they offer during prenatal care, and how to decide when it comes to the big question of doctor or midwife: which should you choose?

Related story This Doula Says This Popular Birthing Position May Not Be the Best & Is Calling Out Facilities That Don’t Let Parents Choose for Themselves


The majority of babies born in the United States make their big entrance into the world with the aid of a doctor, or obstetrician, using tried and true ways to ensure a safe delivery. “If you’re high risk or have medical problems, it’s best to choose an obstetrician who will have a better understanding of diseases and complications that can arise during childbirth and can handle that pregnancy much better,” advises Dr. Rob Atlas M.D., Chairman OB/GYN, Mercy Medical Center.

Following are some benefits of choosing a doctor or an OB/GYN:

  • Best for high-risk pregnancies such as high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
  • Provide prenatal care and labor and delivery in a hospital or medical center
  • Access to epidurals and medication that may be necessary during labor and delivery
  • Provide routine ultrasounds as needed throughout pregnancy
  • Most services are covered by insurance

>> I hate my doctor. Can I change?

Midwife or doula

According to , midwives delivered only 7% of American babies in 2003. However, that percentage has been increasing since 1975. “The reason why a low-risk patient should choose a midwife is that a midwives offer more one-on-one time, personalized care, and do a much better job spending time with their patients than doctors do,” offers Dr. Atlas.

>> Certified nurse midwives: As primary caregivers

Following are some benefits for pregnant mothers who choose midwives or doulas:

  • May take a more holistic approach to your pregnancy, labor and delivery, only intervening when necessary and letting the process naturally
  • Reduced need for medical interventions, such as epidural, vacuum extraction and forceps, according to doula and co-founder of Birth Day Presence, Jada Shapiro
  • Can help you create a birth plan based on the kind of labor and delivery experience you desire
  • Deliver babies in birthing center or in your home, but will also work in a hospital
  • Will assist in comfort techniques and act as a labor coach during the labor and delivery process

>> Pregnancy and Baby: Why doulas are a girl’s best friend

If you have a healthy, normal pregnancy, you may choose to see one or the other, or a combination of both. The most important factor in your decision to choose between a doctor and a midwife is your comfort level and relationship with your caregiver, and that they respect your birth preferences. And that’s something only you and your partner can decide.

More on doulas

Finding a doula
Why doulas are a girl’s best friend
The doula advantage: Becoming a doula

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