3 things to know before you choose a midwife

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How to choose a midwife

More and more of our girlfriends are choosing a midwife instead of a doctor during pregnancy and for childbirth, both at home and in a hospital. Having a midwife is a deeply personal choice that has worked out well for me and my family, especially the home care and postpartum support. It is so important to find a midwife that is right for you!

If you’re planning to go the midwife route, ask these three questions before selecting one that is right for you. Download a detailed checklist of questions to ask midwives here.

1.     Education and experience

Midwives’ levels of education and designation can vary. Some are registered or certified midwives while others can be doctors or nurses. Confirm this information and their qualifications!

Other important questions about experience include:

  • how long they have been practicing

  • the number of many babies they have delivered alone (i.e., without the assistance of a more experienced mentor)

  • how many of those babies were delivered naturally, vaginally or with medical intervention such as a C-section, and

  • whether the babies they have delivered were in a hospital or at home births.

It may also be important to you that a midwife have personal experience delivering their own baby.

2.     Approach and what sets them apart

Ask about their general approach to midwifery and what their services entail, including where they deliver babies, their views on medical intervention and how long they offer postpartum care. Also find out what makes their practice unique.

Figuring out if your personalities mesh can be as important as determining if you and the midwife are on the same page with respect to medical intervention. Ask how they feel about medicated births and interventions compared to natural childbirths. Find out what techniques they usually recommend for pain management, from natural methods like relaxation and breathing to medical intervention options. For example, if the midwife is an employee of a hospital she may be required to take an approach restricted by the parameters of the hospital’s protocols. Some midwives may offer transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units (a battery-operated device that can be used to treat pain).

Find out what they offer and what sets them apart. Some midwives may bring ambience or things like aromatherapy to the childbirth. Others may bring homeopathic kits to assist with pain management and other ailments during and after childbirth. Some practitioners may be able to offer massage and acupuncture to clients.

It is also worth asking a midwife what support they give you in pre-labor (i.e., do they support you by phone or do they come to your house). If you’re having a home birth, find out if there’s another midwife that will be there to support them.

3.     References, availability and back-up plan

Confirm your midwife’s availability in the weeks leading up to and following your due date. You may even want to know their specific days and hours of work each week.

It is common for midwives to work in clinics with other midwives so you may have a chance to meet the backup midwives at your scheduled monthly or weekly appointments during pregnancy. If you’re in a remote area it may be more difficult to find a back-up midwife in case of an emergency.

Don’t forget to ask for references. Reading testimonials and other feedback can also provide good insight.

Start looking for a midwife as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Depending on community and practice volume, finding an available midwifery practice can be difficult, especially if you switch from a doctor to a midwife mid-pregnancy.

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