Choosing a Midwife – Facts and Advice
In the United States and most other developed countries, a midwife is the first port of call when it comes to comprehensive prenatal care. For a low-risk pregnancy, it’s likely that the midwife will be the only professional you’ll need. However, if you have congenital conditions that are high-risk or you develop pregnancy complications, you may need a care plan which involves both a midwife and an obstetrician. Read on for more information about the role of the midwife and how to choose one who meets your needs.
What is a midwife?
A midwife is a certified professional who is trained to support women through pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period. They generally have bachelor’s degrees in midwifery and are required to update their certification every three years. Any midwife you employ should be a CPM (Certified Practicing Midwife). Having a midwife is the preferred approach to prenatal care because it offers the woman continuity, trust, and expert care. Their duties include:
- Regular checkups and monitoring of symptoms during pregnancy.
- One-on-one care and support.
- Educating new parents about pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
- Helping families to develop a personalized birth plan.
- Offering advice on natural childbirth and prenatal classes.
- Hands-on support during labor and delivery.
- Delivery the baby.
- Regular home visits and checkups during the postpartum period.
Midwives can work in a number of settings and will either visit you at home or receive you at your local pregnancy center. The services they offer are very personalized to your needs and beliefs. For a normal delivery, midwife care should be all you need. But they are trained to recognize the signs of complications and get you specialist help if you need it.
When should I get a midwife?
It’s entirely up to you but many women engage a midwife very early in their pregnancy, almost as soon as they’ve had a positive pregnancy test result. It may take you some time to find a midwife who you can trust and click with so it’s a good idea to start early. Generally, you should ensure that you have your first prenatal checkup by the time you’re eight weeks pregnant.
How do I find a midwife who meets my needs?
You will be working extremely intimately with your midwife and need to talk to her about things you wouldn’t dream of mentioning to anyone else (like constipation and vaginal discharge!). So it’s really important that you form a strong trusting bond with your midwife and feel comfortable being open with her. The following questions might help when you meet a prospective midwife:
- Are you available in the two weeks around my due date?
- Is your midwife certification up to date? Can I see your practicing certificate?
- What are your philosophies around pregnancy and childbirth?
- What are your thoughts on natural birth?
- Do you do home visits or will I come to you at the pregnancy center?
- I’m thinking about homebirth. Are you an experienced homebirth midwife?
- Tell me about your approach to creating a birth plan?
- At what point would you call in specialists if I were experiencing difficulty with labor?
These questions are, of course, just a guide. The most important thing is that you chat with the midwife and get a feel for whether you can work with her or not and whether her beliefs about childbirth align with your own. If possible, it’s best if your partner is part of this initial appointment, too. Don’t feel obliged to engage the first midwife you meet. They are professionals and will not be offended if you decide that this is not the midwife for you.
What are other pregnancy care options available to me?
Although having a midwife is the preferred prenatal care in the united states and other developed countries, it is not the only option. Other forms of prenatal care include:
- Prenatal and postpartum doulas.
- Obstetricians and gynecologists.
- Natural or spiritual guides.
Of course, it is very common for any of these options to be used in conjunction with midwife care. In the United States, it is becoming more common to have an obstetrician as your sole pregnancy professional but this option can be more costly and the serv ice is not as holistic or as personalized as with midwife care. For more information about your prenatal care options, click here.
Do you have a question about midwives which we haven’t answered?
Remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question! If you’ve read the article and you’re still wondering something about midwife care, it’s likely that other women are wondering the same thing. We’re always more than happy to answer questions or to share your good advice with other readers. Feel free to post in our comments section or to send a private message through our contact us page.
More articles and advice for a healthy pregnancy:
What to expect at your first prenatal visit:
Generally, you’ll have your first prenatal visit when you’re around eight weeks pregnant. Click here to find out what you can expect at this exciting early appointment.
Attending prenatal classes helps you to understand your pregnancy, prepares you for labor and delivery, and is an excellent way to meet new friends in the same situation as you. These days, there is a wide range of different styles of prenatal classes. Click here to read about them and find one that’s right for you.
Ready to learn more about what to expect in the first three months of your pregnancy? Click here for a comprehensive guide to all of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy, as well as helpful advice, and links to more detailed info of each of the weeks of the fist trimester. There’s so much to learn about!