I'll Take A Midwife Over An OBGYN Any Day

Why did I choose a midwife the second time around?

“Midwives help people out.”

This clever play on words pretty much sums up the difference between midwives and OBGYNs. OBs deliver babies, midwives catch them. OBs get informed consent, midwives help you make informed decisions. Of course, this is over simplifying things, but that is the gist of the difference between them.

When I first told my parents I was using the services of a midwife for my second baby, they immediately thought of me giving birth on our kitchen table, aided by a bonneted townsperson using boiled water and newspaper. But the modern midwife could not be further from the truth.

While standards for midwifery qualifications vary widely by country and region, Ontario midwives are incredibly well-trained and educated professionals. They complete a bachelor’s degree followed by a four-year masters degree, including hundreds of hours of practical training with exceptionally high expectations. There is no room for mediocrity in midwifery.

Modern Ontario midwives are medical professionals. They can do medical procedures, prescribe medication, and perform life-saving procedures. They have offices, hospital privileges, and a warehouse of knowledge.

The stereotype of the crunchy, anti-vax, hippie midwife is also far from true. Midwives were the first people to recommend I get a whooping cough booster when I was pregnant, well before my family doctor was aware of the need. They informed me I had a right to refuse the vitamin K shot, but if I did, they were required to call children’s services. I had ultrasounds, I gave birth in a hospital with an epidural, and received all the same medical tests I did with my first child under the care of an OB. I am incredibly pro-science, and so are they (and in the case of my friend the midwife, an actual genetics scientist).

This isn’t to say that OBs are not also wonderful. I had an amazing experience with my OB. She was fantastic in every way. So why did I choose a midwife the second time around then? Because there are some definite benefits to being under the care of a midwife.

1) They tend to be much more client-based.

The emphasis is on helping you through your pregnancy. It is you giving birth, not them delivering your baby. There is a bigger feeling of being in control of your own body and care.

2) It is a lot more relaxed.

The regular exam tables at my midwife’s clinic were actual beds. The medical exam table was reserved for medical exams. I had my pap smear on the medical exam table, I had my check ups on a comfy mattress with a bedspread. Although I knew they were highly qualified medically, the clinic did not feel, well, clinical. Even the birth itself was so much more relaxed. They let my body do its job, and there was no rush like I had felt with my first baby. My kid basically walked out and made himself a sandwich.

3) You can contact your midwife if you have concerns.

Of course, use this with a high amount of discretion. But knowing that if I had something going on that was concerning me, like a pain or something not feeling right, really eased my mind. If I had a concern after hours with my OB, I had to go to the hospital.

4) After care for the first six weeks is done in your home.

Because a midwife visits your home the next day, you do not have to stay the full 24 hours if there are no concerns for you or the baby. I stayed about five hours. I had several home visits the first week, and then periodically after that. I got examined on my couch in my pj's and did not have to bundle my day's old winter baby to go to a clinic. Upon hearing my microwave was broken, my midwife showed up the next visit with a microwave she had in her garage and a giant tub of Lego for my oldest.

5) There are a lot more options for personalized care.

While I chose a fairly traditional birth in a hospital, many choose to give birth at home. This is controversial, but quite a body of evidence shows that in a low-risk birth, with a qualified midwife and access to a nearby trauma centre, home births are not any riskier than hospital births (and some studies suggest they can even be safer). Midwives are often more open to trying different labouring and delivery positions, and techniques. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a fully qualified midwife when making these decisions, but there definitely seems to be more room for personalized birth plans.

Having experienced the care of a wonderful OB and a wonderful midwife, if I were to have a third baby, I would choose midwife again in a heartbeat. It isn’t that I think midwives are better than OBs, I genuinely believe that they are different but equal, my experience with midwives was just much more relaxed and comfortable.

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