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Despite marked differences in their approach to childbirth, it's now clear that obstetricians and midwives working together can offer the best of both worlds.
Leaders of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Nurse Midwives evaluated the results of such collaborative practices across the United States. They found that OBs and certified nurse-midwives who worked as a team delivered better outcomes along with babies: Rates of labor induction and Cesarean sections in their practices were below average, less pain relief was needed and patients were more satisfied.
The teams, whose findings were published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, acknowledged the philosophical differences between their specialities: Certified nurse-midwives tended to be "more holistic, present and noninterventive," while OBs were "more episodic and medicalized in their approach," one study reported.
But together they found ways to achieve "low-tech, high-touch" deliveries. Their practices focused on letting labor begin spontaneously, providing extensive prenatal education and hands-on support during labor, and following mutually developed, evidence-based clinical guidelines.
Midwives are becoming increasingly mainstream, with an increasing number of women opting not to have an OB deliver their babies. Despite the growing popularity, lingering questions and myths persist about midwives—so check out our How to Choose a Midwife page for more information to help make the best decision for you.
If you're trying to decide between the two approaches, answer the seven questions in our "OB or Midwife?" article to help you decide on whom should help you deliver your baby.