What’s the difference between an OBGYN, an RN and a MidWife? Here’s why you want them all on your birthing team


Preparing for the birth of your baby is a very exciting and busy time. It is also a time where you are likely to hear a lot of advice and opinions on various birthing methods and processes and who should be on your birthing team. As a first-time expectant mother, one of the first things you need to do to prepare for your big day is to assemble your birthing team well in advance. You should also be aware of who does what and why you should include an OB/GYN, an RN and a Midwife on your team, but also be aware of their differences when it comes to care.


Educational Background

The biggest difference between these three professionals is their level of education.

  • Obstetrician Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) like all other physicians have completed four years of medical school and four years of residency. They have an additional three years of specialized training in obstetrics and gynecology.
  • Registered Nurses (RNs) have completed four years of nursing studies that includes both classroom and clinical training. They have obtained a bachelor’s degree in nursing and have taken a licensing exam to become a registered nurse.
  • Certified Nurse Midwives are registered nurses that have furthered their education by obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing degree. They are certified through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).


Levels of Care from Each Professional

An RN can assist either an OB/GYN or Midwife in providing prenatal or during the delivery process. They can answer any questions that you might have throughout your pregnancy and alert you when further attention might be needed from your doctor or midwife. OB/GYNs and Certified Nurse Midwives can both deliver babies within a hospital setting. Both can prescribe medications and contraception medications and are able to focus on:

  • Women’s health
  • Prenatal care
  • Postpartum care
  • Menopause care

These professionals’ approach to the birthing processes do differ slightly. A midwife takes a more holistic approach to the pregnancy with more focus on the physiological processes that occur. This generally includes:

  • Allowing labor to begin on its own and allow it to progress at its own speed
  • Not interfering with the labor process when possible
  • Staying with the mother throughout the entire labor process
  • Assisting with home births or birth center births if requested


An OB/GYN with the mother’s permission may opt to move the labor process along with by inducing labor or other interventions. In the case of a high-risk pregnancy, a midwife will request that an OB/GYN be actively involved with the mother’s prenatal care. Unlike a midwife, this doctor will be able to provide any needed:

  • Surgical prenatal care
  • Surgical procedures, including C-Sections
  • Intervention and care for any complications that could arise during pregnancy and childbirth


Having all three, an OB/GYN, an RN and a Certified Midwife on your birthing team can give you a balanced level of care throughout your pregnancy and baby’s birth. They will work together as a team to help keep you and your baby healthy.

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