Doctor or midwife: Which one is right for you?

Pregnant woman touching her stomach

Wondering whether you should choose a midwife or doctor for your pregnancy and delivery? The prenatal care expert you select will depend on several factors, including:

  • What kind of experience you want
  • Whether your pregnancy is high risk

Read on to learn about your choices and how to select the expert that’s right for you.

Comparing doctor and midwife credentials

While midwives and doctors who deliver babies are part of the same specialty area, their education and credentials are different.



Medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathy (DOs)

Most are certified nurse-midwives (CNMs)

Specialize in obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN), family medicine or maternal-fetal medicine (MFM)

CNMs are registered nurses who have pursued advanced training and hold a master’s or doctoral degree

Completed four years of medical school and three to four years of residency

Completed at least 2-4 years of graduate education

Licensed by the state to practice

Licensed by the state to practice

Likely board certified in their specialty

Certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board

Consider different birthing approaches

If you're looking for someone more likely to take a holistic approach to birth – and to intervene only when necessary – you may prefer a midwife. Midwife means “with woman,” so this type of care is typically more hands-on with greater face-to-face interaction. A midwife can help you think about what kind of birth experience you want and support you in that decision. For example, midwives are experts at guiding you through natural birth. However, if you choose other options, such as an epidural, your midwife will still support you. 

Other benefits of midwives include:

  • Fewer medical interventions, without any difference in outcomes for you or your baby
  • Lower rates of cesarean section
  • Lower rates of preterm delivery
  • Higher rates of patient satisfaction
  • Higher rates of breastfeeding
  • Work closely with doctors who can provide medical interventions if necessary

Most major insurance companies cover midwifery care. Check with your insurance provider to see what they will cover.

Evaluating medical conditions that impact pregnancy

Some risk factors may influence your decision to see a midwife or family medicine doctor. These providers typically handle low and moderate-risk pregnancies.

If you have any of the following conditions, you may need to see a general OB-GYN or MFM doctor:

  • Having twins or multiples
  • High blood pressure requiring medication, or preeclampsia with severe features
  • Severe fetal growth restriction
  • Pre-pregnancy diabetes
  • History of blood clots
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy

If you start with a midwife or family medicine doctor and later develop complications, your care may be collaboratively managed by your midwife or family medicine doctor and a maternal-fetal medicine doctor.

If your baby needs a higher level of care after delivery, you’ll also have access to our Newborn Intensive Care Unit or NICU. Nebraska Medical Center’s state-of-the-art NICU is designed to support the needs of premature or acutely ill infants in a family-centered environment. Studies show that premature babies born in a facility that offers this type of care are likely to do better than those born elsewhere.

Finding the prenatal care expert that’s right for you

Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose someone you feel comfortable with and who's appropriate for your situation. All our doctors and midwives are dedicated to learning your needs and desires. We want to help you have the birth experience you’re hoping for, regardless of who you choose for your care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 800.922.0000.