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Choosing the Right OB or Midwife

By Leslie Vandever of Healthline.com for Welcome Baby Care

This is the expert who will educate, guide, and care for you throughout your pregnancy, will deliver your baby when the time comes, and assess your health afterward. It’s important that the you and your caregiver(s) share the unique combination of trust, honesty, communication, and respect.

Which maternity professional you choose is up to you, but keep in mind that not all health insurance providers cover midwifery. It’s a good idea to look into it first to be sure.


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Obstetricians (OBs) are the standard in maternity care in the U.S.; they deliver babies in hospitals. As both a medical doctor and surgeon, your OB is trained specifically in women’s health. He or she will provide care throughout your normal pregnancy, labor, and delivery and–additionally–can handle serious medical issues should they arise.

Midwives have assisted women in childbirth for thousands of years. In the U.S., there are two types: Certified-Nurse Midwives (CNMs) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs).

CNMs are registered medical nurses who have graduate-level training in midwifery. They provide professional, routine maternal care (including tests) and deliver only low-risk mothers, working under the direct supervision of an obstetrician. CNMs deliver babies in hospitals or birthing centers.

CPMs may be a good choice if your pregnancy is normal and you wish to have as natural a birth as possible. CPMs attend midwifery schools and serve apprenticeships. They typically provide maternal care only low-risk, normal pregnancies (in most areas), and they deliver babies both in the home and at birth centers. CPMs believe that pregnancy is a natural part of a woman’s life, and that it usually doesn’t require medical intervention. They rely heavily on natural methods during prenatal care, labor, and delivery, but come to births prepared with some basic medical equipment as well–oxygen, Pitocin, suture equipment.


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A good first step is asking friends and relatives for recommendations. You might not have to look any further! At the very least, this list of names and numbers based on word of mouth will give you a good starting point.


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Don’t be afraid to ask questions—and don’t settle if you have doubts or feel even the slightest bit uneasy! You’ll be working closely with this individual during your pregnancy; feeling comfortable and relaxed around them is a must. Examples of questions you might ask before making a final decision:

  • What are your credentials? Your experience?
  • What is your birth philosophy?
  • What routine tests and procedures do you do? Why? Can I opt out?
  • Will you answer my questions and explain things to me?
  • Will you discuss my options with me if there’s trouble?
  • What is your induction rate?
  • Your Caesarian rate? (In the case of a home-birth midwife, her transfer rate.)
  • What’s my role in decisions?
  • How can I reach you outside office hours?

Remember, you are the one having the baby! Make the choice that’s right for you.  

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California where she writes for Healthine.






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