Midwives have been involved in the birthing of children for centuries. This profession could be argued to be the oldest women’s health specialties in the world, and they’ve seen a growing renaissance in the past decades. In today’s modern world, they still perform much the same function as they always have, and this has led to some questions among those considering involving a midwife in their birth.
Midwives, OB/GYN, Doula – What’s the difference?
There are three different types of specialist that get involved with women’s health as pertains to reproductive health. These are midwives, OB/GYNs, and Doulas, and they often work closely together to see women through their pregnancies and help bring healthy babies into the world. Of the three, the most well-known are midwives and OB/GYNs. This has led to some confusion as to the difference between the three and what role they play in pregnancy.
- OB/GYN – As the most commonly known childbirth specialists, we figured we’d start with them. OB-GYN is an abbreviation of obstetrician-gynecologist and is the term for a doctor of medicine who has a specialty in childbirth and pregnancy care. They can perform complex procedures such as Cesarean Sections and are who you see for an annual wellness visit.
- Midwives – Midwives are also experts in their field and are certified as part of a program that demonstrates their skill and knowledge. They help you design your birth plan, honor the goals you’ve set as part of your pregnancy, and keep you informed about your care options. There are actually three levels of midwives:
- CPM – Certified Professional Midwives are specialists certified by the North American Registry of Midwives.
- CM – Certified Midwives are those who have earned a post-graduate midwifery degree and are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board.
- CNM – Certified nurse-midwives have completed their education as a Registered Nurse and may have masters or doctorates in nursing. The American Midwifery Certification Board has also certified them to practice.
- Doulas – These professionals are not medically trained but are there to provide emotional, informational, and physical support throughout your entire pregnancy and beyond. They do not deliver babies; they simply provide support throughout the process.
Many women opt to have one of each of these professionals involved in their pregnancy to ensure they have the necessary care and support.
Choosing Your Pregnancy, Women’s Health Care, and Birth Professionals
You may start your planning prior to becoming pregnant or wait until you know you’ve conceived to choose your support team. Speaking to your OB/GYN about midwife and doula support can direct you to reliable resources with good reputations. In the end, choosing to have a midwife and/or doula is a personal choice and is between you, your family, and your OB/GYN. Complicated pregnancies should generally involve the support of an OB/GYN to ensure that you have a healthy delivery. Reach out to your professionals for a consultation to determine which of these specialists, or all of them, is the proper choice for you.