Pregnant woman checkup

OBGYNs vs. Midwives - Understanding the Difference

The confirmation of your pregnancy can be overwhelming. Regardless of circumstance, finding out about a pregnancy can be enough to send even the most prepared person spiraling, wondering what to do next. One of the most important tasks to prioritize, however, is deciding on a delivery plan. There are numerous directions you can go, but the most common choices are relying on an OBGYN or finding a midwife to deliver your child, and it is very important to understand the distinction.

What are the Similarities? 

Regardless of what path you take, what matters most is your level of medical care, comfort and trust throughout your pregnancy and, ultimately, during delivery. This is your journey, and you want to find someone who hears you and respects your wishes to the best of their ability. Both OBGYNs and midwifes are experts in women’s health. Both hold a deep understanding of the needs of a mother and both can deliver healthy babies using modern best practices. However, an OBGYN can provide additional services and treatments that a midwife cannot.

What Are the Differences?

To put it simply, the difference comes down to the level of expertise and training. In general, a midwife can handle a low-risk delivery. A midwife typically functions in a low tech, high touch situation. This means that it is best for people facing few complications, who are firm in their knowledge that they aren’t likely to face serious complications during labor.

OBGYNs, on the other hand, are trained to deal with all pregnancies, including high-risk pregnancies. This can range significantly depending on age, weight, and other important medical history concerns. Both can offer you support and comfort, but an OBGYN is best equipped to handle situations where you might need to be induced or when complications arise mid-delivery. OBGYNs can also provide extensive prenatal care and screenings and tests during the pregnancy.

Another difference between giving birth with a midwife versus an OBGYN is the setting. OBGYNs typically operate in a hospital or similar setting, whereas midwives may often be more associated with water or at-home births. A common misconception is that midwife birthing settings are all completely personalized, though that is often not the case. It is important to communicate your entire birth plan and backup plans, regardless of your choice between OBGYN or midwife.

It’s Your Journey

At the end of the day, what matters most is your comfort when choosing a delivery path. No matter what, you should find a person you trust—someone who respects your decisions and is excited to work with you on bringing your new baby into the world in the way you imagine. Since every journey is different, some may be more complicated than others. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or want to be best prepared in case complications arise, an OBGYN is likely your best choice, as they have more technology and resources at their disposal to help keep you and your baby safe.