As a woman expecting a child, you have the option to choose between an obstetrician or midwife for your prenatal care. Both options provide excellent care and support during pregnancy, but there are some key differences that set them apart. Here are 7 ways in which obstetricians differ from midwives.

What’s the difference between OBs and midwives? 

Education, Training & Certification 

Obstetricians must complete four years of medical school followed by at least four years of residency training in their specialty field, while midwives typically receive three to five years of academic and clinical education through accredited programs such as nurse-midwifery or direct-entry midwifery programs. 

In order to practice medicine legally, an obstetrician must be licensed by the state they live in, whereas most states require only certification for practicing as a certified professional midwife (CPM).  

Technology & Equipment Usage

An OBGYN is trained on how to use high tech equipment like ultrasounds and fetal monitors during labor. However, this technology isn’t always used by all types of providers, including some CPMs who may opt out due its higher cost or lack access within their own practices. 

Delivery Options

Most OBGYNs will offer women more delivery options than what is available with certified professional midwives, such as cesarean sections if needed, while still providing natural birth methods when appropriate.  

Medication Usage

Midwives typically focus on using non-medicinal pain relief techniques such as massage, hot compresses, breathing exercises etc., while doctors can administer medications if necessary. These can either be orally, intravenously (IV), or epidurally depending on the situation.   

Care During Pregnancy

Midwives generally take more time with each patient throughout her pregnancy, compared to doctors who tend towards shorter visits. In addition, many physicians will refer patients back into specialist care quicker than would be done so under guidance from a certified nurse-midwife. 

Follow Up Care After Delivery

While both health professionals provide postpartum follow up appointments after childbirth, it’s important to note that these visits may vary slightly depending upon provider type. For example, a doctor’s office might cover topics related specifically towards contraception/family planning, whereas a midwife could spend additional time discussing breastfeeding management issues.

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