Find a Midwife: 7 Tips
When you first find out you’re pregnant, you have many decisions to make — one being whether you’d like to have a midwife. Before you hire the midwife nearest to you, you should take a few things into account.
Becoming educated on a midwife’s role and knowing what to ask is important. Below are 7 tips to help you find the perfect midwife for your pregnancy.
#1: Know the Difference Between a Doula and Midwife
If you’re looking to go a more holistic route for your childbirth, you’ve likely come across two terms: Midwife and doula. When choosing who you’d like support from, it’s important to know the difference. Although they might seem similar, they are vastly different.
A midwife is a health practitioner who can often replace a doctor in labor. A midwife will monitor you and your baby’s health before, during and after labor. She can be present whether you choose to have your baby at home or in the hospital. If you have a home birth, a midwife will bring all the necessary medical supplies and will know what to do in emergency situations.
On the other hand, a doula provides non-medical support. She will give you prenatal and labor advice as well as emotional support. She will also be present during labor.
If you intend to give birth without a doctor present, you must have a midwife to ensure you have a safe delivery. If you want additional support, you can choose both a midwife and a doula.
Both midwives and doulas will have appointments with you throughout your pregnancy. Midwives are educated, certified providers and contrary to what many people think, they are safe. About 62% of home births in the U.S. had a midwife present and home births have a lower risk profile when compared to hospital births, according to the CDC. However, it’s important to keep in mind that home births are only safe for women with low-risk pregnancies. If you have or are expected to have any labor complications, you must give birth in a hospital so that doctors and medications are accessible.
#2: Ask About Cost Upfront
Before you begin your search for a midwife, find out if your insurance plan covers midwives. If it does, make sure you understand the details.
Next, you should inquire about all the costs associated with having a midwife. If you choose a home birth, what are you expected to purchase and what will the midwife provide? Will tests and certain appointments cost extra? Get a clear picture of how much this will cost. You may choose to call around first to get an idea of the average cost of a midwife in your city.
#3: Choose a Certified Midwife
In the United States, laws and certifications for midwives vary from state to state. A licensed midwife (L.M.) can only practice in the state they’re licensed in. There are a few other designations a midwife may have.
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM)
Certified Nurse-Midwives are midwives who have gone through the education to become a nurse and also are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives. They can prescribe medication and can practice in any U.S. state.
Certified Professional Midwives (CPM)
Certified Professional Midwives are not certified nurses and may only have a high school education. However, they must have taken an accredited midwifery course. CPMs cannot prescribe medication and are legal in about half of the states.
Certified Midwives (CM)
To become a certified midwife, a person must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed specific science courses. Next, they must take an accredited midwifery program. After passing the national exam, they are a certified midwife. CMs can only practice in a few states.
A full chart on the certification differences can be found here.
In Canada, a person can become a certified midwife by taking a midwifery program offered in five provinces. Since previous education isn’t a requirement, the bachelor program is four years long. However, regulation of midwives varies by province.
Discuss with your partner what kind of education you want your midwife to have. Some couples having a home birth feel more comfortable and reassured if their midwife is a certified nurse. Other couples are okay knowing that their midwife cannot prescribe medication because they want a completely natural pregnancy and birth.
#4: Ask About Experience
The midwife you’re considering is licensed, but how many years of experience does she have? When you call or email, inquire about when she got started in the field and why she chose this profession. Ask whether most of her experience involves home or hospital births. If you’re not sure about her certification, ask her to clarify what type of education she received. Many midwives will have testimonials on their website. If not, ask if she can provide any references.
Just like employers now Google job candidates, you should also Google your midwife. See what information you can gather about her from her website and social media pages. If she has a business Facebook page, you may be able to find out what other clients have said about her. In addition, see if you can find any reviews about her on Google, Yelp or medical review websites. Positive reviews can give you the reassurance you need that she’s the right choice, while negative reviews will give you extra information to consider.
A simple way to cut down on the research step is to choose a midwife recommended by a friend or family member. You may also ask your doctor or local hospital to refer you to a midwife.
#5: Protocols for Home and Hospital Birth
If you want to have a home birth, express that in your meet and greet appointment, and ask the midwife to give you a quick walkthrough of what a home birthing process would look like. Inquire about her protocols in case of an emergency. If you will be giving birth in a hospital, ask her about the involvement of doctors and what her role would be.
If you’re not sure whether home birth or hospital birth is right for you, read this guide. You should also communicate your ideas or concerns with the midwife during the meet and greet. Not only will this guide you towards a decision, but you’ll also get a sense of how involved and helpful your midwife will be. Is she addressing your concerns and taking them into account? Is she presenting information about both options? Does she seem genuinely interested in helping you?
#6: Trust Your Intuition
When you meet different midwives, trust your gut feeling! One midwife may be more qualified and have more years of experience, but keep in mind the subtle factors, too. Which midwife are you drawn to? Which one do you feel more connected with from the first appointment? Who do you trust the most? Who showed the most interest in your needs and concerns?
Remember, a midwife is not just there during labor; they are there to guide you in the months leading up to the big day. For this reason, it’s important to choose someone both you and your partner feel comfortable enough to bond with.
#7: Book a Meet and Greet
When you’ve found a midwife, book an introductory appointment to make sure they’re the right fit. Unlike a nurse who you only meet on the day you give birth, a midwife will be there with you throughout the entire process, so you want to be comfortable with her.
Since your partner will be involved in labor too, he should attend the appointment. Just like a job interview, ask your midwife questions to see if her personality matches you and your partners. Learn her beliefs about midwifery and the way she operates her practice. How frequent are appointments? When you go into labor, will she be on call or does she have a partnering midwife who will attend?
A midwife who owns a private practice will likely be the single midwife with you throughout your entire pregnancy, labor and after birth. However, if it’s a shared practice, you may be seeing different midwives each appointment. You and your partner will need to decide what you’re comfortable with.
Ideally, you want a midwife who has significant knowledge and who is compassionate and communicates well. If the midwife is reluctant to answer questions or seems to lack a genuine care and warmth, it might not be the right fit.
It’s okay to book meet and greet appointments with a couple of midwives until you find the right one. After you’ve met your midwife options, sit down with your partner and discuss who you both feel is the best fit.
Are you looking for a midwife? If you are, comment below your experience. Be sure to share this post with your pregnant friends to help them, too!
P.S. Between your midwife visits, you can listen to your baby’s heartbeat yourself. Our fetal dopplers give you that extra level of bonding.