Family Medicine Doctor or Midwife?

As soon as you find out that you are pregnant, a lot of questions come your way. Where will you give birth? Will you opt for a natural birth or an epidural? What healthcare provider are you going to choose to deliver your baby?

At Mile Bluff, the pregnancy care team is made up of family medicine doctors and a certified nurse midwife. Planning ahead and knowing what options are available is an important step in selecting a caregiver. There are many similarities between family medicine providers and midwives. However, there are some essential differences you may want to factor in when making a decision about your pregnancy care provider.

Do family medicine providers and midwives have the same amount of education?

No. Family medicine doctors complete four years of medical school followed by four years of residency. To become a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), it is necessary to become a nurse, and then successfully complete a graduate program in midwifery. The final step is to pass a national certification exam. Most CNMs have experience working with moms and babies before attending graduate school.

What services can family medicine providers and midwives provide?

While both types of practitioners are fully trained and capable of delivering your baby, CNMs cannot provide all the services that a doctor can.

Both family medicine providers and nurse midwives offer family planning, a full spectrum of pre-conceptual care, delivery, and postpartum care. During pregnancy, midwives care for women who have a low risk for complications, while physicians provide care for both low- and high-risk pregnancies. To determine if your pregnancy is considered high-risk, your first visit to our office will include a thorough medical history and exam.

Additionally, both providers also offer gynecological care, including screening and treatment of sexually-transmitted infections.

Preparing for Delivery Day

Myth buster: Midwives do not administer pain medications

While many midwives are advocates for natural childbirth and use a variety of labor techniques, a common myth is that they will not give a woman pain medications during labor. Midwives can indeed prescribe medications and provide an epidural for pain relief if that is your preference during labor.

Complications during labor: What now?

All CNMs are trained to recognize problems that might occur during pregnancy and delivery. If during your labor, your risk of complications increases, or emergency surgery is necessary, a family medicine doctor will be called in. If you unexpectedly require a c-section, your midwife will stay by your side and assist with the delivery, providing support along the way.

Delivery day with your provider

On the delivery day, a nurse midwife is typically with you during much, if not all, of your labor. The midwife will help you through various techniques to ease labor and will coach you through the stages. In comparison, a delivering doctor will check in on you throughout your labor and ensure you they are there. Nurses will also be with you, constantly monitoring you and your infant’s progress and health. The nurses will keep your doctor informed as your labor progresses and your doctor will arrive when your labor becomes more active.

Decision time: Will you choose a doctor or a nurse midwife?

At Mile Bluff, it is our mission to provide you with the highest quality care possible, no matter who delivers your baby. We encourage you to choose a provider you’ll be completely comfortable with - someone you trust, who will provide for your specific needs and desires.

When it comes to choosing, learn about your options, and talk to others about their experiences. Don’t be afraid to meet with various providers to ask questions so that you can ultimately find the right fit for you and your baby.

Learn more about our range of healthcare options for women including family medicine, gynecology and nurse midwife services today!

Information provided by UnityPoint Health.