You’re doing the right thing by interviewing midwives to find the right one for your birthing experience, but just what questions are important to ask…and why?
Before you meet with a midwife, you need to write down what is important for you during your pregnancy and birth:
- Is it the price?
- Is it to have homevisits?
- Is it the relationship with a midwife?
- Is it a midwife’s experience?
- Is it the professional and support network she uses?
- Is it an antenatal program that empowers you and your partner?
- Is safety important?
- Which birthing environment is important for you?
You need to know what you’re looking for in a midwife as this is the most important decision for the most important event in your life – the sacred birth of your baby into your family. It is your body, your baby and you want to choose what is right for you.
Here are some important questions to ask when you meet with your Private Midwife:
1 How long have you been a midwife for?
Experience is important, especially when you are employing a private midwife. If a junior midwife may be looking after you, you want to make sure she has a mentor to whom she refers. Midwives need to learn but they should be in a supportive environment when working in Private Midwifery.
2 Where has your experience mainly been – hospital or community?
A midwife who has worked extensively in the community is used to being independent and forming good networks for support in the community. She/he is not reliant others to make decisions for your care which is often the case in the hospital environment.
3 How many women do you take per month?
You want to make sure your midwife will be there for you and that she won’t be exhausted trying to juggle births, home and life. The recommended full caseload for a midwife (by the Australian College of Midwives ) is 4 women per month for 10 months of the year.
4 For homebirths – do you carry emergency drugs, oxygen and suction?
Every homebirth midwife or a midwife caring for you in labour at home should carry this equipment. The emergency drugs are those used in case you bleed following birth. She should also carry IV equipment in case you have a heavy loss requiring emergency fluids till you are transferred to hospital.
5 Do you work with a second midwife in homebirths? If not, who looks after me if you can’t be there?
The reason you are having a homebirth or a private midwife is so that you KNOW your carer. It is well researched that when you know and trust your midwife you are less likely to have any interventions and your labour will be shorter as you feel safe and secure with her/him. It is recommended by the Australian College of Midwives that for safety, a homebirth is attended by two midwives in case of emergency. You also need to know this second midwife well so you feel safe and trusting with her also.
6 What skills and preparation will you teach me for birth?
You want to know that your midwife is experienced in “moving and shakin” to shift babies who are malpositioned, that she/he will teach you breathing and meditation to prepare for birth ( preparation of mind, baby and body) and that she refers to a number of health care professionals for optimal care during your pregnancy.
7 How much time do you spend with me antenatally, postnatally?
You want to feel listened to, supported and special. You want to know your midwife has time for you, for your questions and concerns. You also need to know how many home visits or clinic visits you can expect.
8 What is your epidural/intervention rate and why?
You are wanting to have a normal birth, that is why you’re seeking a private midwife. You need to know that she/he has statistics over the years that they have a minimal intervention rate and only use interventions when medically indicated, not because she/he is wanting to control or rush things along or simply doesn’t have the experience.
9 What is your caesarean rate?
This is most commonly asked in relation to an obstetrician, not a midwife and yet who looks after you in labour? Who’s experience, energy and hopefully intuition is guiding the labour and ensuring safety and ease through this natural physiological process?
The midwife! Not the Obstetrician!
The Obstetrician is the one who is called in when things have gone wrong and then, when nothing can be done to rectify a situation, then calls for a caesarean.
Since private midwives only look after low risk normal pregnancies, her/his outcome should be less than 1% ending in caesarean.
10 Who do you refer to when there is a medical concern?
You need to know whether you are going to be referred to a GP, Obstetrician or into the hospital so that you can be part of the decision as to where to go, who you would feel comfortable with. You need to know your midwife has an established referral system supporting her/his practice.
These are some main questions I can think of. Please feel free to comment or send an email with anything you would like added. I would suggest that it’s also important to look at contracts, information disclosure policies and complaints proceedures that the midwife has set up for her practice as these are part of a Private Midwife’s insurance requirements.
What about you? I’d really like to know of any others you can think of that should be on this blog that you think are important. Share them with us below!