Linda Murray: What type of caregiver do women choose? The 2 types of caregivers trained to help a woman deliver a baby are doctors and midwives. The vast majority of women in the United States choose a doctor, shown here in blue, as their main caregiver during their pregnancy.
Mom 1: I'm very confident with my doctor, my physician, and I thought the one thing I wanted to have was be comfortable with my OB and really trust her to do the right thing, and I did. And she was affiliated with that hospital, so we trusted her, which turned out to be the best experience. The nurses were fantastic there.
Linda Murray: Most use an obstetrician and a small number use a family physician. Choosing a midwife, shown here in yellow, is becoming more common. Nearly 1 in 10 births are attended by a midwife today, up from about 1 in 100 in the mid-1970s. Many obstetricians these days also work with midwives, so you may be able to enjoy the best of what both caregivers have to offer.
Mom 2: I went to see a midwife, and I felt insanely comfortable with her. She spent an hour with us, or more, at every visit.
Mom 3: For some reason, I just feel like a midwife would be able to be more in tune with what I want.
Linda Murray: Many women choose a doctor partly because that's the type of caregiver they trust and are used to. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you'll probably need to see an obstetrician, since they're skilled in handling the complex medical issues that can arise. If you want to give birth in a hospital, the most widely available type of caregiver is a doctor, but a midwife may also be an option, depending on the hospital or your obstetrics practice. Another reason you might choose a doctor is that health-insurance companies generally cover their services without question. One potential drawback is that you might not see much of your doctor until you're pushing your baby out. Doctors are often busy helping multiple women in labor at the same time.
Jeanette Lager: So one of the reasons that I would choose a doctor as my caregiver for childbirth is if you're established in a practice and you already have a doctor that you've been working with for your regular gynecological exams. That's a great time to pick your doctor if she also does obstetrics. I think another reason that it'd be good to choose a doctor is if you're planning to deliver at a particular hospital or you're interested in a particular birth center. Then you'd want to know who practices there, and if it happens to be physicians, then it would be nice to meet an obstetrician through that as well. Doctors are great if you have any sort of complications in your pregnancy. It's nice to be able to ask them questions, and especially if there's a reason that you might need a c-section, then you definitely want to have a doctor involved in your prenatal care.
Linda Murray: Midwives tend to have a more personal and holistic approach to pregnancy care. They can typically spend more time with you than a doctor, both before and during labor, and focus on providing emotional support throughout the experience. A midwife will help you try to have the kind of labor you want and can be an excellent coach if you want to avoid pain medication. There are several types of midwives with different types of training, so it's important to learn about a midwife's experience and certification before choosing to work with her. The most common type of midwife in the United States is a certified nurse midwife, or CNM. A CNM is a registered nurse who's educated in midwifery and allowed to deliver babies in any setting, from a hospital to your home. A midwife isn't a recommended choice if you have a high-risk or complicated pregnancy, but if your pregnancy is low risk, studies have shown that you're just as likely to have an excellent labor outcome with a midwife as you are with a doctor.
Judith Bishop: Midwives are what I would call the experts in normal, unlike physicians who might be the experts in complications of pregnancy. I think that gives the midwives the luxury of having extra time to spend on normal concerns that women have in pregnancy about the correct diet, help with exercise, questions about travel, questions about integrating older siblings into the arrival of a new baby, many kinds of normal things that we really just have the luxury of getting into in a deeper way than physicians may, who are dealing with more medical complications. Most midwives in the United States deliver babies in the hospital. It's not about whether you have medication or you don't have medication. They're there to support women in the choices that they make. Some midwives do also assist women in home birth, so women seeking that option might also be looking for midwifery care.