The choice between a doctor or midwife is the biggest one of your pregnancy. If you have strong feelings one way or the other, your choice may be more straightforward, but if you don’t have a strong inclination one way or the other, the decision can seem overwhelming. Understanding what to expect in each scenario can make your choice a little easier.
Consider Your Health
A midwife delivery is generally only indicated for a healthy mother and pregnancy. Each practice has different interpretations of what this means. For example, some midwives will consider attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), while others will not. If you have any preexisting medical conditions that may complicate your pregnancy, you may not be a good choice for a midwife delivery. It is important to remember that many healthy women may develop unexpected complications during their pregnancy. While these complications, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, can be effectively managed, it may mean switching from a midwife to a doctor during your pregnancy.
Visit the Facilities
If a doctor delivers your baby, you will give birth in a hospital. If you choose a midwife, you may deliver in a hospital or a freestanding birthing center. There may also be more than one hospital and birthing center in your area. Before settling on a provider, it makes sense to schedule a tour of the various facilities.
Talk to the Providers
While training is important, so is chemistry. Whether you are using a doctor or a midwife, you want someone who will listen to you. While the goal is always a healthy baby, the mother’s wishes should be taken into consideration as well. It is also important to ask how call is handled with your potential provider. What is the likelihood that your provider will deliver your baby if you go into labor in the middle of the night or on a weekend? Will you meet any other members of the practice during your pregnancy? There is no right answer, just know what to expect and decide if that is something you are comfortable with.
Know Your Options
While midwives do receive extensive training, there is no denying that the scope of practice for a licensed obstetrician is much broader. This means a doctor is much better equipped to deal with birth injuries or other problems should they arise. It also means that if there are issues related to the labor or birth, for either mother or baby, there is recourse for any physical or mental pain.
Selecting a healthcare provider for your pregnancy can be stressful, but knowing what is important to you and what you are more flexible about can help ease your stress. Talk to friends who have recently given birth, get recommendations, and don’t feel stuck with one provider. If you become uncomfortable with the care you receive during your pregnancy, listen to your instincts.