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What is the difference between
a midwife and an obstetrician’s philosophy?

“An obstetrician manages labour; the midwife supports labour. The obstetrician makes things happen; the midwife lets things happen. The doctor trusts technology and is wary of nature. The midwife trusts nature and is wary of technology. The obstetrician fears birth will go wrong. The midwife expects birth will go right.”

from the Birth Book by William Sears M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.

Giving birth is one of the most memorable occasions in your life.

It is vitally important that you hand select the birth team to attend to you during

your own childbirth. Midwives and obstetricians are both qualified to help you

birth your baby, yet their roles may be quite different.

Comparisons between a Midwife and an Obstetrician

1. Both midwives and obstetricians can help you give birth to your baby.

2. Both professionals can take care of your prenatal and postpartum needs.

Contrasts between a Midwife and an Obstetrician

1. Midwives tend to have a more holistic, natural philosophy about childbirth,

whereas obstetricians are more likely to have a medical perspective and view

birth as a risk.

2. Midwives tend to spend more time with you during labour and in prenatal visits than an                                                                      obstetrician, who may be in and out of the birthing room until the final stages of pushing and birth.

3. Obstetricians are more likely than midwives to use medical interventions such as inductions, continuous monitoring, episiotomies as well as recommend caesareans.

4. Midwives practice in birth centres or attend homebirths in addition to hospital births, unlike obstetricians who practice only in a hospital setting.

5. Obstetricians are trained as surgeons and can do a caesarean, whereas a midwife cannot perform major surgery.

6. Obstetricians can treat both low and high-risk mothers but midwives can see only low-risk patients.

Exceptions to the Rule

While in general, midwives and obstetricians tend to have different philosophies and practice styles, there may be exceptions to the rule. For example, some obstetricians may be very supportive of natural birth and rarely perform interventions such as episiotomies. On the other hand, some midwives who have worked only in hospital settings may adopt a medical model of birth.

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