MD or Midwife: The Choice Is Yours

MD or Midwife: The Choice Is Yours
BlessedBeginnings photography

You may not get to choose whether you have a boy or girl, but as an expectant mom, you do get to decide who will support you throughout your pregnancy and delivery—a physician or a certified nurse-midwife. The choice is yours. It is a matter of preference and a decision you will want to make based on your own personal vantage point and circumstances.

Here are some simple guidelines to help you make the selection that is right for you and your baby:

Health Status. If you have a medical condition—such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or a mental health issue—an OB-GYN might be the best option for you as a healthcare provider. Your physician can monitor you and your baby and manage your medication needs as you progress through your pregnancy.

Perspective on Life. Women who select midwifery come from all walks of life, political persuasions and socioeconomic backgrounds. But they do tend to share a few things in common—such as a sense of personal determination and a desire to actively participate in planning their childbirth journey.

View of Childbirth. If you see your pregnancy and delivery as normal life events rather than as medical processes, a nurse-midwife might be right for you. Midwives support natural childbirth, with little or no medical intervention. So if you find soothing music, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy and movement appealing alternatives to an epidural or pain medication, you’re very likely going to be happy with a midwife at your side.

Model of Prenatal Care. The nurse-midwives at VCU Health offer their patients individual prenatal visits or CenteringPregnancy®—group prenatal care. Eight to 12 women who are at about the same points in their pregnancies meet regularly for prenatal visits, education, emotional support and sharing.

Lasting Relationships. Establishing a relationship with a nurse-midwife practice can extend far beyond pregnancy and childbirth. Certified nurse-midwives are masters-prepared, advanced practice nurses. The term midwife literally means “with women”—and we are with you throughout the spectrum of life, including:

  • Initial gynecological visits and pelvic exams for young women
  • Routine woman care
  • Menopause care
MD or Midwife: The Choice Is Yours
BlessedBeginnings photography

Nurse-midwives can do pretty much everything physicians can do—except surgery—our healthcare services include:

  • Performing physical exams and pap smears
  • Ordering lab tests and interpreting results
  • Ordering diagnostic imaging studies, such as screening mammograms
  • Prescribing medications

Across the profession, nurses tend to be educators by nature, looking at the whole person, not just the medical condition.

You can take comfort in knowing that your VCU Health nurse-midwife is part of a comprehensive team of healthcare professionals—working collaboratively with OB-GYNs, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, pediatricians and others.

Having a baby is one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime. So is selecting the right healthcare professionals to guide and support you every step of the way. For many women, a nurse-midwife is the most natural choice of all.

If you are considering birthing with the midwives, call 1-800-762-6161 and tell the operator that you would like to schedule a new OB visit with a midwife. New patient consultations are offered at both VCU Health at Stony Point and Nelson Clinic on the downtown campus.

Learn more at

Leslie FehanArticle is written by Leslie Fehan.  Leslie Fehan, MS, CNM, WHNP-BC, is the lead nurse-midwife and an associate clinical professor at VCU Health.

VCU Health
VCU Health is constantly pushing the limits of what’s possible in medicine and health so we can provide the most comprehensive, safest and highest quality care. We are the region’s only Level I trauma center, NCI-designated cancer center — VCU Massey Cancer Center — and full-service children’s hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.In addition, VCU Health provides an exceptional birth environment for moms-to-be. We offer comfortable, home-like environment with a variety of birthing options to choose from. We put the needs of the mother-to-be and her baby first. Our expert doctors, certified nurse-midwives and nurses work with you to create the birth experience you want. They are the region’s most highly respected and experienced medical professionals, whose work is guided by the highest standards of care and the most current medical knowledge.With our leading-edge technology, unparalleled problem-solving, and legacy of academically driven excellence, VCU Health is leading what’s possible in your health, recovery and life.