You have a choice about who will deliver your baby. Doctors and midwives are trained to provide medical care and support before, during, and after the birth.
Doctors and midwives share the same goal. They want you and your baby to be healthy. But their training and approaches may be different.
Doctors are also trained to treat more serious problems, and most doctors deliver babies only at hospitals.
Doctors who can deliver babies include:
- Obstetricians, who specialize in the care of pregnant women.
- Perinatologists, who specialize in high-risk pregnancy.
- Family medicine doctors who provide pregnancy (obstetric) care.
Midwives may not do as many medical tests as doctors. And they often teach you how to use comfort measures to manage pain during labor.
If you work with a midwife, you may be able to have your baby at a hospital, a birthing center, or at home.
There are different types of midwives with different levels of training and certification.
- Certified nurse-midwives are registered nurses (RNs) who have midwifery training and certification.
- Certified professional midwives (CPMs) are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives after training and being apprenticed to an experienced midwife.
- Lay midwives aren't required to have professional medical training. They learn through an apprenticeship with an experienced midwife and through workshops and classes. They are not licensed.
What to think about
Whether you choose a doctor or a midwife, it's important to find someone who can work closely with you and share in decision making. This partnership is key to getting the care that is best for you and your baby.
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology