When I found out I was pregnant, I originally booked an appointment with my family practitioner, but quickly changed my mind and instead decided to go with the midwife group at the local hospital. I liked the idea of working with people who specialized in pregnancy and birth, and didn’t consider it just another small facet of the overall knowledge base they are expected to maintain. They also hold the philosophy that birth is a natural event and not a medical emergency, a different approach from your average doctor.
The Certified Nurse Midwife group at our local hospital is made up of several women that see appointments and handle deliveries. (There are many kinds of midwives. CNMs attain graduate degrees, are licensed as RNs, and receive advanced study in obstetrics and gynaecology.) Patients see each of the midwives, so you are comfortable with whoever is on call at the time of your delivery. The midwives spent a lot of time with us at our appointments, well more than the average OB. Our first appointment (for both spouse and I) lasted an hour! They provided an 800 number we could call with questions or concerns, day or night. They took a natural, holistic approach to the pregnancy and provided information on things like nutrition, exercise, and medicines.
When it comes to the actual birth, they have a little leeway with hospital regulations, and are likely the best option for those wanting a birth with minimal interventions. When I was in labor, the let us do what we wanted to do, but also supported us with suggestions on positions and tips to make pushing more effective. They helped me have a natural birth, drug free birth with no interventions and no tearing!
I should note that while we chose to go the midwife/hospital route, others may desire a homebirth. This really wasn’t a consideration for me as a first time mom going in with little knowledge of my options. However, if I were to do it all again, I’d consider it. There’s something to be said for giving birth in the comfort of your own home, secure in your surroundings.
In summary, I felt I was in really good hands with the midwives and would highly suggest them to anyone. In other countries midwives attend nearly all births, and I’m always surprised when people around here aren’t even aware of the option.