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Choosing A Midwife For Your Birth

Updated on September 11, 2011

Choosing A Midwife

How To Choose A Midwife:

The term “midwife” means “with woman” and midwives are trained to assist a woman with birth. They typically provide prenatal and postnatal care along with giving support and supervision during labor and delivery. Today, midwives care for women that are having low-risk pregnancies, working with the mom-to-be on how to manage pregnancy related questions and concerns. Some midwives are trained and certified through midwifery schools and national certification examinations. Other midwives are licensed registered nurses that have completed the nursing program and work in a hospital environment. Before committing to one midwife, meet with several and ask them questions about their experiences and see how they fit with your birth goals.

Why Choose A Midwife

Women who are looking to have natural births with little intervention, as well as a birth in which they get to have more control, should look into choosing a midwife. Midwives are also a good choice for women who do not have insurance, because they are less expensive than an obstetrician. Midwives allow you more time with every visit, to develop a relationship, to voice concerns, for the routine check-ups, and to calm any worries. Also, with midwives, you are given more options for birthing. While at many hospitals and OBs, the preferred method of birthing is laying on your back with your feet pushed against your body, midwives allow you the freedom to birth in any position that is comfortable for you.

Because midwives specialize in uncomplicated births, they rarely care for women who are high-risk, and will suggest that you go see an obstetrician if you are prone to having a high-risk pregnancy. Pregnant women who are considered high-risk may have one of the following: cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sexually transmitted disease, kidney problems or other risk factors. Even a mother’s age could be considered high-risk because women have an increased chance of miscarriage and genetic defect if they are younger than 17 or older than 35.

Different Types of Midwives:

In the United States there are several types of midwives; the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Midwife (CM), the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), the Lay Midwife and the Direct Entry Midwife (DEM).

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is a registered nurse who typically works in the hospital setting, although some do work in birth centers or at home in conjunction with a doctor. They receive their certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Certified Midwife (CM): although CMs have the same qualifications as a certified nurse midwife, she is not a nurse. This certification is somewhat new (since 1996) and only a few states recognize it.

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) has gone to midwifery school, or has learned through apprenticeships, or both, and is certified through the North American Registry of Midwives. CPMs practice independently from a hospital and will attend births at home or at a birth center.

Lay and Direct Entry Midwives are midwives who have learned midwifery through apprenticeships, self-study, or formal instructions, or a variety of combinations. They can have certification or degrees but many do not. They are often referred to as “granny midwives” because many lack licensure and are midwives only through experience. They assist with homebirths. 

Questions and Finding A Midwife

Questions To Ask A Midwife: (Below are just a few questions to ask a midwife)

Where did you receive your education?

How long have you been a midwife?

What hospitals have you transferred a mom to, what was the circumstance, and are the hospitals open to midwives?

What is your c-section rate?

How do you handle breech babies?

What happens if I go past 42 weeks?

How do you handle emergencies?

Under what circumstances would you transfer?

What kind of equipment do you bring to a birth?

Have you ever had to resuscitate a baby?

Will you help me with breastfeeding?

Have you had any bad outcomes for the baby or the mother?

What are your fees? Are you covered under insurance?

How To Find A Midwife:

The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) has setup a free number which you can call to find certified nurse midwives near you. The number is 1-888-MIDWIFE. Or you can go online to: Calling your OB/GYN can get you names of midwives that they work with or know. Ask friends and family who have had a midwife if they can recommend one, as well. Another site is Independent internet searches can also be fruitful. Find reviews of the midwife, call people with whom that person has assisted with births and see what they say about her, and best of all, meet with her. Many midwives have free consultations where they will meet face-to-face with you, answer all of your questions, and see if you are comfortable with their practice and with them as a person. Remember, this is the person you have entrusted your pregnancy care to! 


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    • Monisajda profile image

      Monisajda 6 years ago from my heart

      I am glad you published a list of questions to ask when interviewing a midwife. One more I would include is whether she is a hands on midwife or if she offers a lot of private space for a laboring woman. I happened to have a midwife who thought I wanted to be left alone and I actually preferred someone who would be more with me. Great hub!