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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Midwife for Childbirth?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Many women around the world use a midwife for childbirth instead of securing the services of a doctor. The choice of a midwife for childbirth can have its advantages and disadvantages, which include issues such as stress, medical expertise, and different approaches to pregnancy and childbirth. Many women are more emotionally comfortable with a midwife during the process of prenatal care and childbirth and may feel that a midwife is less likely to medically intervene in a normal pregnancy and birth. The services of a midwife may also cost less than that of doctor, which can be a significant consideration in places that do not offer government-sponsored health care or for individuals who do not have medical insurance. A disadvantage of selecting a midwife as a childbirth attendant is that complications can suddenly arise that may require the intervention of a medical doctor, which can be disappointing for a woman who wanted a midwife-attended birth. In addition, a delay in summoning a physician in case of a sudden complication may pose health risks to both the woman and her baby.

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In many places, a woman may have the option of choosing a midwife for childbirth if she has been evaluated for potential pregnancy risks and is found to be in good health. She will regularly see her midwife during her pregnancy for prenatal checkups and will typically spend a significant period of time with her midwife at each visit, often resulting in a close and trusting relationship. This may differ significantly from the relationship that a woman may have with a medical doctor, who may rely on nurses to perform most routine medical tasks during prenatal visits and who may see the patient for only a few minutes at a time. As many women feel that childbirth is a significant life event, they may be more relaxed and happier if they are able to give birth in the presence of someone they know.

Midwives do not have the same level of medical training that doctors do, however, and in some cases the services of a physician are needed if a woman is to safely deliver a baby. A medical doctor may be better able than a midwife to identify potential problems with the pregnancy and can perform a cesarean section if complications develop. In situations where a woman has worked exclusively with the midwife throughout her pregnancy and expects to be with that same person for childbirth, a change in plans can be stressful and upsetting. If a woman is concerned about the possibility of having to switch from a midwife to a doctor at the last minute, she may decide to work with a doctor from the beginning of her pregnancy or may choose a midwife who practices with a doctor so that she is less likely to suffer a stressful transition if a change in practitioner is necessary.

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