Midwives vs. Doctors – What’s the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a midwife and a doctor?

Both are medical professionals but what are their direct responsibilities and how do they come into play in pregnancy?

If you’re expecting a baby, it’s always a great idea to explore your options.

You want to be in full control of your birth experience and the first step is finding out who you want on your team.

As a mom myself, I’ve never fully understood the full authority I had over my birth experience until after I gave birth.

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When I found out I was pregnant, I followed the standard of finding a doctor for maternity care.

But your experience can be different once you understand that there is more than one option.

Don’t follow the “norm” and instead, start learning today about what you can do and who you can have on your team.


Doctors are the most common type of health providers you can turn to for maternity care.

A doctor may be an OBGYN or a family physician.

An OBGYN (Obstetrics and Gynecology) specializes in the health of women and can provide care for you and your baby during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after birth.

They can perform exams, do ultrasounds, diagnose and treat other health complications you and your baby may encounter. 

An OBGYN can perform a cesarean section when necessary and monitor both low-risk and high-risk pregnancies. 

A family physician provides general care to all members of the family but some can also offer OBYGN-care.

However, in the case that you are considered “high-risk” or have other health complications, your family doctor may refer you to an OBGYN.


Midwives are certified health care providers who provides care throughout a woman’s lifetime.

They have expert knowledge in pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum care and can also provide general care for women from teenage years to beyond menopause.

In addition, they understand that pregnancy and birth are normal life events and will provide support and education to help you make your own choices.

Midwives use evidence-based medical procedures and perform clinical tasks just like a doctor would (for example: prescribing medications, checking blood pressure, performing exams, etc…).

However, they mainly work with low-risk pregnancies but will partner up with local physicians in case you require surgery (C-section). Midwives do not perform surgery.

You will learn that there are three types of midwives:

  • Certified nurse-midwives (CNM) – has a college degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery
  • Certified midwives (CM) – has a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing and a master’s degree
  • Certified professional midwives (CPM) – received apprenticeship training and have graduated from an accredited program.

Most midwives are CNM’s as they are licensed in all 50 states but some states do not certify a CM or CPM.

For more information about the different types of midwives, you can learn about it from the online journal of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Where can I find a doctor or a midwife near me?

Finding a local doctor of midwife near you has become an easy route thanks to the various resources out there.

You can search for one by asking friends or family for recommendations. Recommendations are great because you learn about their personal experience with the provider and whether the provider was helpful or not.

You can also find one through online search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc…

For midwives, you can search for one near you by using the tool provided by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. All you have to do is enter in your zip code and a list of available midwives will show up.

If you have health insurance, you can also search for a provider through your insurance’s online web portal. They can often direct you to a provider who is in-network so you can avoid high costs in the long run.

Regardless of who you choose as your health care provider, it’s important to remember that you do have a say in who you want for maternity care.

You will be working with this person for the next nine months and you want to be comfortable asking any questions that you have.

Talk to different providers, interview and tour their offices, and get a deeper understanding of whether the provider’s philosophy aligns with yours. 

It’s the little things that matters the most, do you agree?

If you found this post helpful, please share? Other mamas may find it helpful as well!


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