OB/GYN or Midwife – Which Is Right for Your Pregnancy?

One of the first and most important decisions you’ll make before or very early on during your pregnancy is what kind of health care provider will oversee your labor and delivery. While obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYN) are still the most common caregivers for pregnant women, certified nurse midwives (CNM) continue to grow in popularity. About 12 percent of all U.S. births were attended by CNMs, a figure that continues to increase.

What does a midwife do?

Certified nurse midwives offer low-risk pregnant women the same nonsurgical, gynecological and obstetric services as an OB/GYN. Most CNMs favor drug-free pain management techniques such as deep breathing, massage, visualization and laboring in a warm bath but are also supportive of epidurals as necessary. Keep in mind, CNMs are always partnered with an OB/GYN throughout the patient’s pregnancy and delivery, should a complication arise.

Comparing credentials

OB/GYNs complete four years of medical school followed by four more years of an obstetric residency where they gain clinical (hands-on) experience. Thereafter, the doctor completes AMA board certification in their chosen medical specialty.

A CNM undergoes education and clinical experience to become a registered nurse followed by the successful completion of a two-year graduate program in midwifery. CNMs must pass a certification exam by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) and are licensed in the state where they practice.

What services can midwives provide?

During pregnancy, midwives care for women who are low risk and prefer natural or less interventional care but in a setting where medical resources are available if needed. CNMs offer pre-conception care, prenatal massage, labor and delivery management, lactation counseling and postpartum care, much in the same vein as an OB/GYN. They also provide services to women who are not pregnant.

Physicians provide care for both low and high-risk pregnancies but only OB/GYNs perform surgery, however. Should you need a C-section while laboring with a midwife, the partnering physician would perform it. Nurse midwives consult with OB/GYNs for any particular patient concerns but act autonomously for most uncomplicated pregnancies.

More than 90 percent of all deliveries by CNMs are performed in a hospital setting where there are obvious advantages. Our practice’s CNM recently helped two women labor and deliver two healthy babies at CentraState Medical Center with support from one of our staff OB/GYNs.

Three key factors when choosing your obstetric partner

One of the many thrilling aspects of pregnancy is the plethora of choices women have in choosing their childbirth experience, including what type of health practitioner will help bring the baby into the world. This important decision is dependent upon the health of the mother, any risk factors related to the pregnancy and the personal preference of the soon-to-be parents.

The First Impressions Maternity Center at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold offer comprehensive services before, during and after pregnancy, including a Lactation Center that offers a comfortable and supportive environment to help educate, counsel and support breastfeeding mothers. CentraState’s OB/GYN staff is dedicated to treating women through all the stages of life, and a certified nurse midwifery program is also available for women preferring these services.

CentraState also offers a wide range of prenatal and parenting classes through its Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center. Expectant and new mothers can find classes to help plan for a healthy pregnancy, prepare for childbirth, or learn how to comfort a newborn through infant massage, among others. For more information and a complete list of classes and programs, call (732) 308-0570 or visit centrastate.com/healthprograms.

If you are in need of an OB/GYNCentraState’s Physician Finder can help you find the right doctor to meet your needs. Visit centrastate.com/physicians or call 866-CENTRA7.


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