Jen Warman: New Freakin' Mummy


Doctor VS Midwife


midwife, doctor, labour, birth story, birth planning, pros and cons

Alright, let's drop the gloves and jump right into the ring:

Who do you trust to deliver your most precious piece of cargo? A Midwife or a Doctor?

I know a lot of people feel very strongly about this topic (second maybe to circumcision) so let's try to keep all shots above the belt here, shall we? (Not to mention, with childbirth, we take enough shots below the belt, literally. Lets give our lady bits a rest.)

Like everything in parenting the choice to go with a Midwife or Doctor is a highly personal decision and there are no right or wrong answers. Just personal preferences. With our first child, we had an OB and delivered at a hospital. It was a very pleasant and amazing experience. You can read about it here. However, this time around, we have decided to shake things up a little and go with a midwife (and still deliver in a hospital — I'm scared shitless of a home birth.) For us — we wanted to guarantee that we'd have someone knowledgeable and kind to help me through the labour process, while being in an environment we felt safe in. We really lucked out last time with world's best nurse and I didn't want to risk getting someone who was less than stellar. So for us, it made sense to go with a midwife this time.

So now let's weigh some pros of each option:


Doctors likely have 8 years of post-secondary education and a minimum of 2 years residency under their belts. Translation: they're pretty smart cookies (Unless they managed to beat the system and copy their neighbour's notes during every exam...) 

When you decide to have a doctor deliver your baby, you get a whole team (and hospital) full of medical care. You will be assigned a nurse (or two) who will primarily be taking care of you throughout your labour. They will be the one monitoring your contractions and keeping a close eye on you and the baby. When it is time to "push" (if you're having a vaginal delivery) that is when the nurses will page the doctor on-call (perhaps it will be your doctor, or it might not be — depending on your arrangement/situation) and then the doctor will arrive to deliver the baby (and stitch you up if need be.) 

Doctors will give you drugs. If you are certain you want an epidural or pain medicine, a doctor is the way to go. This isn't to say you can't have an epidural with a midwife, but it will need to be a doctor who administers it.

Doctors are specialized in dealing with high-risk pregnancies. If you are considered "high-risk" for any variety of health reasons, you will need to be seen by a doctor during your pregnancy. And this is a good thing. Doctors exist for a reason: to keep us alive and healthy to the very best of their ability. 



With a midwife, in Canada, you get highly personalized care. You have the choice to have a homebirth, or you can deliver with your midwife in a hospital (whichever hospital(s) your midwife is associated with). However, if you deliver in the hospital with your midwife, you will not be under the care of a doctor. A lot of people assume you'll have a midwife AND a doctor — but this will only be the case if there is a need for further medical intervention that requires the expertise of a medical doctor, and in that case your midwife will just be around for moral support and won't be the one delivering your baby. 

Midwives are huge advocates of natural births and allowing the mother to be in charge of her own body and birthing decisions. There have been studies that show if you choose a midwife you are (insert high percentage here) less likely to have medical interventions and c-sections. 

Midwives have 4 years of university training (at least I know this to be true in Ontario) or they've studied abroad and have taken the proper courses/exams to be certified in Canada. 

Midwives come visit you at home after the baby is born for follow-up care (both for Mom and the baby). This is a huge plus, for obvious reasons. In Ontario you get 1-2 home visits after your baby is born in the six weeks postpartum.

Typically, the midwife spends more time with you during your visits. You don't have more visits than you would with your OB or doctor, but they typically spend 30-45 minutes with you per visit. They are trained to take your blood, and are fully licenced to send you for all your proper pre-natal screening tests and ultrasounds. 


Now there are a LOT more pros to either choice, I'm just outlining the ones that come to mind. I'll write a follow-up on my midwife birth experience in March, but I'm hoping it's as good (if not better) than my first experience.

Now, I'm curious: what did you choose, a midwife or a doctor — and why?

Also, side note: please don't try to convince me to have a home-birth. While I support the decision of those who are brave enough to try it (and I enjoy hearing your stories) I've done my research, and I still think it seems scary. I'm sorry. That's my opinion, and I've done a lot of research, so I will not be swayed ;)