"When my sister suggested I consider a midwife instead of an OB for the birth of my first child my first thought was “what century is this?” "
Your sister is right—modern midwives are not only highly trained healthcare providers, they are also a growing trend. For many expectant moms, midwives offer a more home-like and natural birth experience with as much help as they want or need along the way.
Choosing between using an obstetrician (OB), Family Practice (FP) physician who delivers, or midwife for your prenatal care and delivery is a personal choice for those expecting a low-risk birth. However, high-risk births should be attended by an obstetrician.
Benefits of Midwives
If you are at low risk, having a midwife-attended hospital birth may offer benefits.
Like your OB or FP who delivers, a midwife can begin working with you even before you learn of your pregnancy, and continue your care up to your labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. With a low-risk pregnancy, you are not likely to see your obstetrician as frequently as those at a higher risk. A midwife, however, provides regular education and counseling throughout your pregnancy and assists you in developing a personalized birth plan.
Many women describe seeing their midwives more like visiting a friend than going to the doctor. And that’s the feeling your certified nurse-midwife wants. After all, pregnancy isn’t a medical condition, it’s a natural and beautiful part of life to be shared with friends and family.
Midwife-attended births are usually very different experiences for labor and delivery as well. You’ll likely be encouraged to have as many friends and family members with you at your birth as you’d like (within the hospital room’s capacity).
Midwives have earned a reputation for being very supportive of natural births – fewer C-sections and episiotomies are reported in births attended by midwives. But what they actually support is a birth experience that meets the needs and goals of each individual patient. That may be a “natural” or low-intervention birth. But they can also administer drugs, perform medical procedures and provide technical interventions when needed or desired. That may include:
Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
Hands-on support during labor, physically and emotionally
Waterproof, cordless telemetry system so baby and mom can be monitored on the move
Midwives & High Risk Pregnancies
If your pregnancy is considered high risk, you will need to be monitored by a board-certified obstetrician (OB) throughout your pregnancy. But you can still include a midwife in your prenatal care and delivery. There are several factors that increase pregnancy risk:
Existing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease and AIDS/HIV.
Age. First time pregnancies in women over 35 are considered high-risk, as are teen pregnancies.
Multiple births. Expecting twins, triplets or more raise the risk to both mom and baby.
Obesity or being underweight. Both put the mother at higher risk of complications.
Alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy put the baby at risk of birth defects.
Pregnancy related complications, like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
Having a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t mean that there is a known problem or that you will need advanced care. But if you are at high risk, you need to have the highest level of care available—and that includes an OB attended birth, preferably in a hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
About HCA Midwest Midwives
HCA Midwest Health was the first health system in the Kansas City region to offer midwifery services and has continued to do so for more than 20 years. Our midwives are advanced practice registered nurses who have been master's-trained and board-certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board. They work within our hospitals and with the support of the entire hospital care team of doctors, nurses and support staff.
Making Your Choice
If you are enjoying a low risk pregnancy, it really comes down to what makes you comfortable. We suggest talking with both an obstetrician and a midwife, talking to friends and family members and then making the decision that feels right to you.
Whether you choose an HCA Midwest Health midwife or an obstetrician, you can be assured that they are part of the largest and most comprehensive maternity and childbirth system in the greater Kansas City region. In fact, more than 5,000 moms from across 13 counties deliver their babies with us each year.
That experience makes a difference, both for you and your baby. To find an obstetrician or certified nurse-midwife, call (913) 541-8330 or use our online physician finder.
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