Of course you should go with an obstetrician – you are a first-time mom and need someone who is qualified and know what they’re doing!
Said my parents when I informed them that I was considering a midwife as my pregnancy caregiver rather than an obstetrician, commonly referred to as “OB”.
This misconception about midwives – that they are unqualified / just women helping out at birth but not educated about it – is not uncommon. This was also my impression of them until I researched extensively to determine which is the better fit for me. As both my mom and mother-in-law live across the globe from us, my husband and I knew that we would need lots of support to get through our first pregnancy.
It actually takes a lot more training than I first assumed to become a midwife. Of course, there are benefits to having an OB as the primary caregiver, especially if one is having a high risk pregnancy. Midwives focus on low risk “boring” pregnancies, and cannot perform caesarean surgeries (“C-sections”).
In other words, if you are having a regular boring pregnancy (like I did, yay for the uneventful pregnancies!), perhaps you could consider midwifery care. We wanted a hospital birth so the option to have a home birth under a midwife wasn’t a deciding factor for us, but it appears to be for many who chose midwifery care over the “traditional” OB route.
Here are the reasons why we decided on midwifery care:
1) Same caregiver for pregnancy and delivery
The same midwife caring for your pregnancy will be the one catching your baby at birth. We got assigned a primary midwife and a back-up midwife, in the event that our primary midwife cannot make it for our labour. With an OB, the person delivering your baby will be whoever is on call at the hospital that day. I am too Type A control freak to not know who will be the person delivering my baby!
2) Option to be transferred to an OB if need be
Although I was cared for by a midwife throughout pregnancy, as my labour had to be induced (whole other story) and my baby had to be extracted via forceps, my care had to be “transferred” to an OB at the hospital. My sixth week postpartum checkup was also with said OB. However, my midwife stayed by my side throughout labour, and I relied heavily on her for emotional support throughout labor. You can go from midwife to OB if any complications from birth arise, but you can’t have it the other way around. In my case, I pretty much had the best of both worlds since my midwife continued to be involved with my / baby care after birth, while the OB also kept a pulse on my condition.
3) More time at each appointment for questions
Each midwife prenatal appointment we had was upward of 30 minutes. We were able to ask all the questions we had as paranoid first-time parents without being rushed. While I’ve never had a prenatal appointment with an OB, after surveying a number of friends who did, as well as my family doctor, and it sounds like OB appointments tend to be much more rushed since the volume of patients to one OB is very much higher than that of a midwife.
There aren’t many midwives in this region, and since they limit the patients allocated to each midwife per month (to ensure that they’ll actually be available for your labour!), it is quite difficult to get a spot with a midwifery service. Hence, it is important to call the midwives to ensure your spot immediately after finding out about the pregnancy. We waited till about ten weeks in as we were undecided, and only got in because someone else had miscarried. It is so awful to have benefited from another person’s disaster though.
4) Less waiting time
The one OB postpartum follow-up visit I went to had a ridiculous wait time of 1.5 hour, while an average midwife appointment wait time was about ten minutes.. sometimes longer and sometimes no waiting, but definitely not more than thirty minutes. It might not be the case for every OB or midwife, but another survey from friends appear that wait times for OB appointments are generally much more unpredictable and likely, longer. Again, it is probably because the volume of patients for an OB is much higher when compared to a midwife.
5) Personalized Care
After birth, my midwife called me personally almost every other day to ensure that I was coping well. When I had a question for my OB, I had to leave the message with her receptionist and wait for the next business day for an answer… from her receptionist.
6) Home visits after birth
If I had to pick ONE reason why I would definitely choose a midwife over an OB, this would be it. The days/weeks after birth is just an insane rollercoaster of serious sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion (sore everywhere!), intense emotions.
After we were discharged from the hospital, our midwife visited us and our new baby at home for a few weeks. I was pretty much camping out in pyjamas the entire time. Not having to put on pants after birth is seriously the best.
I believe that if you go the OB route, you’ll have to bring baby to your family doctor/OB for those frequent initial checkups. I could barely walk properly then!
Our midwife was also able to take care of some of the newborn screening tests / injections.
If you’re interested in midwifery care in Waterloo Region for your pregnancy and birth, here are the midwifery services for Waterloo Region:
- Kitchener Waterloo Midwifery Associates
- Blue Heron Midwives
- Genesis Midwives
- Born Midwives
- Cambridge Midwives
- St. Jacobs Midwives
Hope this helps clarify the difference between choosing a midwife / OB. Good luck with the pregnancy!