Choosing your care provider is a big deal decision when you’re pregnant. Heck, just deciding where you want to have your baby may have been a job and a half.
But now you’ve decided you want to have your baby at home!
Or a birth center.
Or maybe you’re pretty sure you want to have your baby in the hospital but you’re still curious about all the great things you’ve heard about homebirth midwives.
Great! Those are all wonderful starting places. But now you’re faced with a new decision- which midwife is the right one for me?
Step 1: Find Your Local Midwives
If you live in a community of wonderful midwives who get along well and collaborate in interesting ways (like we have here in Sacramento), they might have a local organization like the Midwives Collective of Sacramento. Almost every midwife serving the greater Sacramento area is listed on this page.
When you dig deeper into each of these practices, you start to realize that there’s a midwife for every person. You may not resonate with one midwife, but for somebody else they might be the perfect caregiver. Start by looking at websites. Read the about page for the midwife, look at the pictures, learn about their birth philosophies. You can even call them to get a better sense of their personality initially.
Tune into your heart and gut reactions and choose 2 or 3 midwives to interview in person. It’s actually not in your best interest to interview every midwife in the area. You’ll only wind up exhausted and confused, trying to remember how each one was different. The truth is you’ll know pretty immediately which midwife is the right one for you. There is power in trusting your intuition. This skill will continue to serve you well through your pregnancy and birth.
Before you meet with a midwife ask yourself questions like:
- Do I like this person’s care philosophy?
- Could I be comfortable with this person at my birth?
- Do I find myself excited to learn more about them and how they practice?
How do you know if a midwife is really as cool as their flashy website and beautiful birth pictures make them look? You can talk to other people in your community who had babies with that midwife. Former clients are often very happy to share about their experiences. Looking at Yelp reviews and Facebook reviews can give you a surprisingly insightful look into the aspects of a midwife’s care that really resonated with folks. The very best way to find out if a particular midwife is the right fit for you is to meet with them in person.
Step 2: The Interview
Every midwife I know is more than happy to sit down with you for an entire hour for free and chat with you. You have nothing to lose except that short amount of time. Here’s a universal midwife secret: we love meeting new people and talking to them about birth. I personally love educating people about what I do and what my care looks like. It helps folks see how my services are different than hospital-based care and what the pros and cons are of each birth setting. Answering questions and helping people feel more relaxed in their decision helps me get to know them, their reasons for considering homebirth, and their unique needs and desires for their care.
What if you’re not sure you want a homebirth but you’re curious about it? You should still interview a midwife. I’ve had folks interview me when one partner very much wanted a homebirth and the other partner was against it. Or they brought their mother-in-law who was scared of the idea. These folks sat down and asked me their hardest questions. I did my best to provide honest answers. It makes a huge difference when you can meet a midwife face to face and learn about the rigorous training they completed, the breadth and depth of their medical knowledge, and the emergency skills training and equipment they bring to every birth.
When a midwife is honest and up front with you about their practice style and their skills, this is an extension of the excellent informed choice we pride ourselves on offering. This informed choice process begins the very first time you meet a midwife and continues through your care every time a routine procedure or intervention is discussed.
Step 3: Choose Your Midwife
So how do you choose your midwife? I’m not going to give you a list of questions to ask your midwife (because so many other people have done that for me), but you should be asking yourself these questions throughout the interview:
- How does this midwife make me feel?
- Do I feel safe?
- Do I feel comfortable?
- Do I feel heard?
- Do they seem knowledgeable?
- Do I trust them?
- Do I like the answers they’re giving me?
- Do I feel like I get a good sense of their personality?
- Could I see myself being vulnerable with them at my birth?
- Do I want to see them again and again throughout my care?
Listen carefully with your heart and your gut and you will know if this is the right midwife for you. If you interview more than one midwife, take notes so when you go back and review them you can remember what it was that you liked or didn’t like about each one. Also, you might interview the first midwife on your list and realize that you really love them and want to hire them. It’s ok to cancel your other interviews if this happens. When it’s right, you just know it’s right.
Knowing that people are hiring me because they feel comfortable with me and my practice is a great feeling. This process develops trust between you and your midwife from before any medical care even begins. This initiates a care provider/client relationship that is heavy on rapport, honesty, vulnerability, and true client-centered care.
Choosing a midwife also means gaining access to a community that supports and celebrates you and your family. Interacting in my online client community, at potluck picnics, at walks and playdates, and at classes in the office you get immersed in a parenting community of like-minded folks. It helps make those long, hard, beautiful early days of parenting a little easier and filled with a lot more joy.
Tel Viehmann Cunningfolk, LM, CPM, AP