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2 Things To Understand About Midwives And High-Risk Pregnancies

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If you find out you are pregnant, one of the first things you will need to do is choose a doctor. This doctor will be there to monitor your pregnancy and deliver the baby when the time comes, and there are two main types of doctors to choose from for this. The first type is a midwife, and the second type is an obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN). Midwives tend to have limitations with their services, and one limitation involves high-risk pregnancies. Here are two things to know about this.

The Differences Between an OBGYN & a Midwife

In 2008, OBGYNs delivered the majority of babies, with midwifes delivering only 7.5% of all babies. While this number is small, it has steadily been growing over the years. One of the key differences between these two types of doctors is the education they receive. An OBGYN attends college and medical school and completes a residency program. A midwife, on the other hand, typically goes to college and then earns a three-year master's degree.

Another key difference is the theories they use and support in their practices. OBGYNs are more likely to recommend pain medications, epidurals, and other forms of intervention. Midwives tends to focus more on natural ways to handle problems and pain during labor. They are also less likely to encourage cesarean-section deliveries, unless absolutely necessary. 

Normal Pregnancy Versus High-Risk Pregnancy

Because of the difference in education between an OBGYN and a midwife, many midwives are only able to assist with normal pregnancies. In other words, they are often not qualified enough to handle high-risk pregnancies safely. While this is not the case with all midwives, the majority of them will transfer patients to OBGYNs if the women become high-risk during their pregnancies.

This factor is important to know if you are pregnant and already considered at a higher risk than a normal woman from the start of your pregnancy. Here are some factors that can place a woman at higher risk from the start:

  • Age—When a woman is over the age of 35, she is often considered a high-risk patient. Women over this age tend to have more problems with their pregnancies than women that are younger.
  • Health problems—Any type of existing health problem can immediately place a woman in this category. This can include heart problems, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • History of miscarriages—Another factor that can place you in the high-risk category is a history of miscarriages. If you have had one or more miscarriages in the past, your doctor might consider you at a higher risk than normal.

In addition to existing issues that can place women in the high-risk category, there are other issues that can develop during the pregnancy that can force them into this group. If you develop one of these conditions and are using a midwife, the midwife may decide to transfer you to the care of an OBGYN, simply to make sure you receive the care you may need due to the issue you are having. Here are some of the issues that can occur during pregnancy:

  • You are having multiple births—If the ultrasound reveals more than one baby, you may be instantly considered a high-risk patient.
  • Preeclampsia—This condition can cause problems with the placenta, and it is most common with teen pregnancies and with women over 40.
  • Gestational diabetes—If you develop gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, you will also be placed in this category.

Midwives and OBGYNs can both assist with normal pregnancies, but midwives might be limited when it comes to high-risk pregnancies. To learn more, contact a midwife through resources like Women's Healthcare Associates LLC to find out if you are in a high-risk category.