Differences between midwives and gynaecologists in pregnancy care
Updated: Sep 27
Midwives, doulas, doctors and gynaecologists are all part of pregnancy, birth and postpartum care. Who cares for what?
It completely depends on which country you live in, how the care is organized.
So before I’m going to talk about how it is organized in detail, we have to split it up into subgroups.
First and foremost, their education and training differences:
OB-GYNs are trained in med school; they study medicine and then specialize in woman’s health. They are trained to detect and treat illness, disease and abnormalities and to perform surgeries.
In some countries (also where I am from), you have to study to become a midwife, and you also graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Science /Midwifery. In others, you first have to become a nurse and in addition to that, do a training to become a midwife. I’ve also heard about countries, where they attend a school to be trained as a midwife.
In general, midwives are trained to support a woman during pregnancy, childbirth and afterwards. They have a holistic and salutogenic way of taking care of expecting parents. If you are interested in the Term “salutogenic”, I explain the midwifery view of a woman’s body in a different post.
More than detecting abnormalities, we advise pregnant women, prepare them for labour, support and accompany them during contractions and birth and care for them post-partum. It is our obligation to consult with a doctor if some pathological symptoms come up at any time.
To break it down:
OB GYNS are trained in complex medicine, to detect and take care of abnormalities, can prescribe meds and do surgeries.
Midwives accompany expecting parents until up to 1 year post-partum, are there for advice and preparation of birth and need to consult a doctor if they detect abnormalities. Under circumstances, they are also allowed to prescribe meds.
Okay so let’s explain the different ways of care during pregnancy:
In most of the countries, primary pregnancy care is being done by OB GYNs.
The doctors do ultrasounds, check the baby’s health and heartbeat and also your wellbeing.
Doctors are trained to detect everything that causes problems with one’s health and to treat the symptoms and the causes of malfunctioning. They take blood tests and measure the baby’s size and health via Ultrasound. They also take care of any complication during pregnancy, birth and post-partum to safe both baby and mother from trauma, if needed.
In some countries, midwives are also involved in pregnancy care. They can monitor the baby’s wellbeing and growth by palpating your belly and checking the heartbeat. They also draw blood and work closely with OB GYNs to prescribe Vitamins and if necessary, meds. Moreover, midwives do antenatal classes to prepare expecting mothers and their partners for birth and everything that comes with it. It is part of their job to give them advice, on physical and psychological subjects.
It is also quite common for midwives to not only work in the hospital but also in private practices, birthing centres or even visit you at home.
Despite how different the education of midwives is, depending on which country you stay in, they are trained to take care of women and babies in pregnancy and anything that comes with it, except for Ultrasounds. And If you ask me, midwives all over the world are still under-represented in this area of maternity care.
Why do I think that a midwife is the perfect health professional in addition to OB GYNs to be in charge of pregnancy care with low-risk mothers? (low risk what?)
We are trained to do it! We can put every pregnancy-related test into practice, except for the Ultrasound
We have much more time than OB GYNS - most of them are overbooked and are not able to talk with every family about the little things that are important
We take care of the little things: listen to expecting mothers and fathers, talk with them and take action
We speak about sensitive topics and even visit you at home
Our salutogenic and holistic approach to healthcare makes us supporters, not only detectors of the ill
We will be there with you the whole time you give birth, so if we already know you from pregnancy, we can adjust the care during birth (tailor-made birth support, so to say)
Midwives have been on earth caring for mamas since ages, we know the drill that comes with birthing by heart
We also prepare for all the changes after the baby is born
Do you need more?
To conclude: We NEED to combine midwifery practice and doctors’ appointments. With the expertise and knowledge of both health professionals, the best care for mothers, fathers and babies can be achieved, from all points of view.
What’s your opinion on that? How did you experience pregnancy care in your country?
stay safe, stay healthy, and always remember:
it’s not pain, but power!
Your midwife Sarah