1. Continuity of Care

Obstetricians/Gynecologists often work in teams. While you might still get to see your doctor for each of your prenatal visits, when you go into labour you will see whoever is on call at the time (which might be anywhere between 1 other, to 3 or 4 other doctors). In some cases, where a woman would like to guarantee that her doctor is the one delivering the baby an elective c-section will often be encouraged.

It's completely understandable that you would want the same person who has seen you during your pregnancy to be there during the birth. You build up trust, and therefore a relationship, with that person and it can be a daunting idea that s/he will not be there for the most important part - the birth.

A private midwife will be the person you see for each pre-natal visit and she'll also be with you for the duration of your labour. If you choose an OB/Gyn then s/he will only see you if s/he is "on duty", but also during your labour it will be the hospital midwives who care for you until birth is imminent at which point the doctor will be called to oversee the birth. Some doctors may periodically call in to check on you, but if they run a busy practice then the first time you see him or her might be as you are pushing. In some cases the doctor may not even get there on time and it will be the hospital midwives who deliver the baby.

With a private midwife she not only stays with you throughout labour and is there to catch the baby, but she will also be at your side for a few hours after the birth to monitor you and to help you begin breastfeeding.

2. Post-natal care

Following the birth, you will only see your OB/Gyn around 6-8 weeks following the birth. A midwife will instead be very involved with you following the birth of your baby. She'll return a number of times to check on you while in hospital and she'll come and visit you in your home as well. This is a highly important service that she performs because she will be available to help you with any problems you might be having with feeding your baby, or if you are feeling particularly depressed after the birth. For most new mothers this kind of post-natal home visit is invaluable!

3. Hire the expert you need

There is a terrible misconception that midwives are somehow less qualified to deal with childbirth than a doctor. The thing that people often forget is that a pregnant woman is young, in good health and simply going through a natural process. She is not ill and should not be treated as such. In their training, doctors are specifically taught to pick up illness and how to treat it. This training, and their subsequent practical experience in hospitals where they see many women experiencing complications often lead them to treat a pregnant woman as if she has a potentially life-threatening illness.

Midwives come from a different perspective. They are taught how to support a healthy woman through a natural process and how to pick up problems if they should arise. A midwife is the expert in a normal, healthy pregnancy and an OB/Gyn is the expert in complications. However, women feel that they would prefer to have an OB/Gyn "just in case" which, while understandable, is a bit like hiring a Paediatrician to babysit your child "just in case".

Midwives don't work alone though. While your primary care giver is a midwife, you will still have an OB/Gyn as a backup and your midwife will ensure that your doctor is kept informed of your progress and together they will ensure that everything is going smoothly. If at any stage there is a question about the health of you or your baby, your OB/Gyn will be consulted for input.

4. Studies-based medical practice

Midwives are known for practicing medicine that is studies-based. This means that they are more likely to keep up to date on the latest methods which have been scientifically studied, tested and shown to be the best way of caring for a pregnant woman.