OB, Family Doctor, or Midwife?

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When you think about pregnancy and delivering a baby, you naturally assume that you’re talking about having an obstetrician as your health care provider. After all, when it comes to the medical field obstetricians are the ones with the most training and education. That said, many women choose to use another provider for their baby, for any number of reasons. There are many factors that go into choosing what kind of health care provider you want to delivery your baby, including your health history, personal preferences, financial situation and more.

There are essentially three choices when it comes to choosing a health care provider to deliver your baby:

  1. Obstetrician. An obstetrician or OB/GYN is a medical doctor that specializes in pregnancy and birth. They’re also trained in the female reproductive system, and able to provide surgical care for women’s needs. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or have a history of complications, chances are pretty good you’ll want an obstetrician. Generally, an obstetrician will delivery your baby in a hospital setting, although some may also work with birthing centers.
  2. Family practitioner. Some generalists may have experience working in family medicine, and that may also include handling low risk pregnancies. In fact, a family practitioner is the most common type of doctor for low risk pregnancies. Generally speaking, a family doctor will delivery your baby in a hospital setting.
  3. Midwife. A certified nurse-midwife has a nursing degree plus specialized midwifery training. There are also midwives that are certified professional midwives who do not have a nursing degree but do have midwifery training. A midwife often offers the least invasive type of birthing experience. Midwives are almost exclusively used in low risk pregnancies. Midwives may delivery babies in a hospital, birthing center or even in a home birth.

If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, do some research to see what kinds of options you may have in your area in terms of a health care provider to deliver your baby. Obviously, your own particular medical situation plays an important role, as well.

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