Midwife, Doctor, or Doula: How to Choose

When deciding how to have your baby, you might be surprised by the many choices you’ll need to make. Your birth plan, where you want to deliver, and the list goes on. One of the most important things you’ll need to choose is what medical professional you’ll have on hand to deliver your little one.  The location of your birth may determine this for you, but for most expecting mamas, the choice is all yours. Will you choose your doctor, a midwife, or a doula?

If you’re feeling a little lost on which one to choose, it’s important to know each one’s strengths, weaknesses, and your own preferences for pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know.

Your OB-GYN

This is the most common medical professional chosen for births, but certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. An obstetrician-gynecologist is a trained medical professional whose specialty is in women’s reproductive and general health. These types of doctors have a great deal of experience in all things pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum as well.

Advantages: Doctors and OB-GYNs are ideal for those with high risk pregnancies, and are mandatory for those that have scheduled or will need a Cesarean section delivery. You may also choose your ob-gyn due to a past relationship, or if you plan on having an epidural during your labor and delivery. Midwives and doulas are not able to administer epidurals, and will need to send you on to an anesthesiologist.

Disadvantages: On the flip side, if you’re hoping for an all-natural birth, an ob-gyn may not be your best choice. They are far more likely to suggest medications, surgery, and technological interventions. They can also be a little more costly when considering a hospital stay.

A Midwife

Midwifes are also medical professionals, but typically do independent practices, and can learn their trade through self-teaching, midwifery school, apprenticeship, or through a university.  They are typically more comfortable doing home births and working for birthing centers.

Advantages: One of the biggest advantages to a midwife is that many mamas feel that the medical attention they receive from a midwife is more personal than that of a doctor. This can be especially important if you don’t have a preexisting relationship with your doctor. Midwifes are ideal in low-risk pregnancies and for those hoping for a more natural birthing experience.

Disadvantages: Midwives are ill-equipped if things go wrong during delivery, and will need to send you to a hospital for further medical attention. Another big downfall is that many insurance companies still do not cover midwifery under their plans.

A Doula

A doula will not be able to cover all of the practices that a doctor or midwife can, but can be a great addition to your birth plan. Doulas lack the medical training the other two do, but instead, will work as your main support system, cheerleader, and source of personal attention throughout the entire process.

A big perk of doulas is that they can also include a lot of postpartum care for you, which helps many women feel more comfortable as they enter this new chapter of motherhood!

Having open and honest discussions with your partner and medical providers will help you decide on the right choice for you. Being very aware of your personal health and the health of your baby should play the biggest role in that decision — because all that will matter is that you both come out of labor and delivery happy and healthy!

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