Midwives have been around since the Middle Ages. In 2005, midwives attended approximately 11.2 percent of all vaginal births in the U.S. Many women use them while they are pregnant, and midwives sometimes offer their services to women throughout their lifetimes, proving support during puberty, childbirth, and menopause. Midwives work in a variety of places — in patients’ homes, in hospitals, and in private offices. Finding a midwife can be extremely easy, as long as you know what type of midwife you are looking for. Whether you want them for only nine months or for nine years, hiring the right midwife can make a huge difference in your life and your family’s.
What is a Midwife?
First you should know that there are two types of midwives; Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) and Direct-Entry Midwives (DEMs). DEMs are trained through apprenticeships under the supervision of an experienced midwife, and they may also take midwifery courses. DEMs can be certified professional midwives (CPM) through the North American Registry of Midwives. CNMs are midwives who are also RNs and have passed the certification exam required by the American College of Nurse Midwives. CNMs have at least one year of midwifery specialty training beyond their nursing education. They practice in hospitals and birth centers, and they also assist with home births. Some of the services midwives provide include:
- Prenatal care to mother and baby
- Non-stop support during the pregnancy, labor and delivery
- Postpartum support
- Counseling to help the mother get through the birthing process
- Performing births at homes, in birthing centers, or in their offices
Finding a Midwife
Finding a midwife doesn’t have to be a chore. There are numerous resources available to you everywhere, including:
- Referral from relatives or friends
- Referral from a childbirth class instructor
- Referral from a doula
- Referral from your OB/GYN
- Midwife certification organizations
- Online directories
- Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter
A Google search of the keyword “midwife” will yield results for midwives in your area. However, you should keep your options open. Search online directories and get a list of referrals from people you know. You may fall in love with the first midwife you meet, but you should interview at least three or four before making a final decision. Interviewing can be time consuming, but you should be 100 percent comfortable with your midwife, as you’re going to share a very precious and intense moment in your life with her.
Questions to ask a Midwife
There are numerous questions you should ask your potential midwife during the interview process. These questions should include:
- Is she licensed in your state?
- What are her credentials?
- How much experience does she have?
- Haw many births has she attended as a midwife?
- Where does she do her prenatal visits, at her home, her office, or a birth center?
- Does she have a back-up midwife if she’s unavailable?
- Can you meet her back-up midwife?
- How often does she monitor mom and baby?
- Will she help you develop a birth plan?
- What are the fees for her services?
- Is she available the month you are due?
- Will she attend the birth?
- How long do her appointments usually last?
- Will she stay will you after labor and delivery?
- Is she CPR certified?
- Has she ever had to resuscitate a baby?
- What would she do in the event of an emergency?
- What will she do if two clients are in labor at the same time?
- How is she contacted?
- Does she work with student midwives in her practice?
- How will your partner be included in the visits and birth?
You may not think some of these questions are a cause for concern, and you may have additional questions. The important thing is to write down a list of questions before you meet with your prospective midwife. That way you can stay on track.
Cost of a Midwife
The cost of a midwife will vary depending on where you live. Midwifery is much cheaper than obstetrical care in a hospital, but some insurance companies will not cover the costs of a midwife. You should ask your midwife if she takes insurance. Still, having a baby in a hospital, even with insurance, can run you around $5,000, while the average cost of a midwife is usually around $2,000. Midwives’ fees usually include all prenatal visits, the birth, and postpartum visits. Some midwives offer sliding scales, trades, reduced fees, or payment plans for clients who need financial assistance.