How to Choose a Midwife
In North America the majority of births are attended to by a doctor. However the option of choosing a midwife is increasing in popularity especially among women who wish to experience a more natural type of birth experience. Midwives specialize in low technology births and are best for women with low risk pregnancies. In most places women who choose midwives still receive standard blood tests, fetal monitoring and ultrasounds. They have the option to deliver in a hospital, birthing clinic or at home. Often midwife care is covered by insurance or the public healthcare system. If it isn't, you'll need to pay those costs yourself so it's important to find out if the costs are covered before you begin the midwife selection process.
Finding a Midwife
If you're considering getting a midwife, the challenge can be finding one and finding one who is able to take on new patients. Midwives tend to take on fewer patients so they can provide more one-on-one treatment to them. Friends who have chosen midwives for their care may be able to provide recommendations or suggestions. So can neighbors and co-workers. Sometimes a primary care physician or a gynecologist can suggest a midwife or a place to find one.
Your local college of nurse-midwives chapter will be able to let you know which midwives are taking on new patients. This will depend on your due date so you'll need to provide that information when looking. The La Leche League or organizations like Healthy Mothers, Healthy babies will also be able to provide information about midwives.
Questions to Ask A Midwife
Once you've found one or a few midwives, it's important to find out if you're fully comfortable with her and if she's properly certified. For your own comfort, it's a good idea to find out what her or her clinic's policy is regarding unexpected emergencies. Typically there's an obstetrician on stand-by but it's a good idea to confirm and get the name of the doctor.
1. How long have you been practicing and how many births have you attended?
2. What is your training? Are you licensed and accredited?
3. How do you see your role as a midwife at my baby's birth?
4. What is your general philosophy about pre- and post-natal care, labor and birth?
5. If you're not available who will be delivering my baby?
6. How long are wait times in your office and how much time do you allow for each prenatal visit?
7. Can I be assured that you or one of your midwife partners will be there for my delivery unless there's a medical reason for a doctor? (This question would only be applicable to midwives who are in a group practice with doctors.)
8. Do you have hospital admitting privileges? What are my options as far as birthing location is concerned? (This is in reference to a hospital birth, home birth or labor and delivery in a birthing center.)