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The midwife experience

Midwives offer a different experience from traditional OB-GYN care

Your personal preference for how you want to have your baby is important. There are options, such as choosing to have your care provided by a midwife or an OB-GYN, and understanding the differences will help you make the most informed choice of how you would like to labor and birth.

Many birthing persons wonder if they qualify for midwifery care or if they are considered “high-risk.” It’s not uncommon for a person to be told they are high-risk when in reality they could qualify for mid-wifery care. Most pregnancies are low risk.

The key differences

Midwives care for low risk patients, which include those over the age of 35 and those who have had one previous C-section. Midwives are experts in pregnancy and birth. They can order labs, perform ultrasounds, prescribe medications and make referrals when necessary. They are trained in the philosophy that pregnancy and birth are a natural part of a birthing person’s life.

OB-GYN doctors are trained with a similar set of skills for pregnancy care, but in the case of complications, they can perform procedures such as C-sections. OB-GYNs are surgeons and approach pregnancy and care of the pregnant person as a medical condition. They also care for medically high-risk patients.

Midwives have lower intervention, C-section and labor induction rates. Mid-wives are also trained to care for emergencies as they arise and collaborate closely with OB-GYNs if a transfer of care is needed. Midwives are board certified and licensed by the State of Oregon.

The experience

During labor, midwives give support by dissipating fears, helping to know what is normal when you’ve never experienced it before. Midwives can help with labor pain by using techniques like counter-presure and massage. They use water immersion to help with relaxation and can use nitrous oxide for pain relief.

The midwife’s role is to guide, mentor and offer continued support and education from the first prenatal appointment, through birth and all the way through the six weeks of postpartum care for mom and baby. After birth, postpartum care is provided in the comfort of your home to both mom and baby for the first few weeks by your midwife. Then the midwife continues to care for both the mother and baby in the clinic for the remainder of the post-partum period.

At the hospital, labor and delivery nurses are the primary support during labor and birth. It is not uncommon for the OB-GYN who cares for you at the hospital and delivers your baby to be a new face and not the OB-GYN that has provided your prenatal care. With a hospital delivery, your labor nurse will care for you and your baby during a typical two- to three-day postpartum hospital stay. You will meet many providers, nurses, nursing assistants and other hospital personnel. Once you go home you will likely wait six weeks before seeing your provider again. OB-GYNs do not provide care for babies after delivery. Your baby care would be provided by a pediatrician of your choice, at their office.

Again, what is right for one person may not be right for another. This is why exploring your options is key. If you have more questions about midwifery care or wondering if it’s the right fit for you, call us for a consultation or tour.


Crystal Massey, CNM, MSM


890 Beltline Road in Springfield


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