Women count on their midwives to support them throughout labor and delivery. The job of a midwife, in fact, is to diagnose and coordinate all aspects of the birthing experience, according to the Bureau of15 Signs The Midwife Shouldn't Be Trusted Statistics.
They often provide instruction, kinship, and even medical advice to pregnant women for whom they work. They usually are gifted at keeping everyone in the room on an even keel. That is why women are increasingly drawn to having midwives, whether they opt for a home or hospital birth.
Whether they are working as part of a greater healthcare team or going solo as the primary caretaker, midwives are meant to be a calming presence, knowledgeable advocate, and fierce protector of mom and baby.
But not every midwife is the same. Sometimes, midwives are not a good fit for the mom or her family. Sometimes, they are just incompetent, a problem in every profession.
Since every woman wants to have the best possible labor experience, it behooves pregnant women seeking a midwife to learn the warning signs. The first step in noticing red flags is to recognize the vetting process is serious and should be carefully conducted with attention to detail.
Mom should ask probing questions about each midwife's approach to delivery, her birthing plan hopes, and any emergencies that might pop up. If she can, she should spend time with potential midwives and get to know them.
And she should consider a number of midwives before making a final decision. While choosing a midwife look for these warning signs that she can not be trusted:
15 The Resume Does Not Check Out
This is simple human relations. Whenever people are hiring someone to do a job, they must carefully examine the submitted resume. For starters, moms should scan the resume or CV for qualifying experiences and desired credentials.
Because some people fudge their resumes or exaggerate them a bit, moms must do some fact checking. Once mom has whittled down her list of potential midwives, she should check with the former employers and educators to make sure what is in the resume is accurate.
If there is a pattern of falsities within the resumes (even if they are small), mom should see this as a sign that the midwife in question is not trustworthy. Being able to have faith in the midwife forms the foundation of the relationship between her and mom.
Starting with a hyperbolic resume is akin to starting on the wrong foot. Mom is better off moving on and looking for someone who is more honest.
14 Lacks The Right Credentials
Professional midwives can have a slew of different credentials. Knowing what each is and making sure the midwives in consideration have the ones that best fit mom's situation is an important part of the vetting process.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) have completed an accredited course with the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), and they must have RN or BSN degrees, according to Parents.
RN refers to registered nurse and BSN refers to bachelor of science in nursing, which usually provides more opportunities to move up the ladder, gain responsibility, and earn a higher salary.
The point is that a CNM has had extensive training, and assuming the credentials are legitimate, should be able to provide knowledge and medical assistance. Others are accredited by Midwives' Alliance of North America (MANA).
They are known as Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs), and they attend some schooling and have an apprenticeship, but the program is not as rigorous as the one for CNMs, according to Parents. Finally, there are midwives with no credential per se. These midwives often teach themselves through apprenticeships and studying.
Often, women from abroad have learned these kinds of skills out of necessity when helping their family and friends deliver babies far from hospitals and birthing centers.
13 References Have Nothing Nice To Say
Again, turn to the logic of HR professionals and take heed. Always ask for references and then follow up with those folks. Find out just what their experience was like with the potential midwife. If references have nothing nice to say, nix that midwife from the list of possibilities.
But what if they don't say anything bad but they don't say anything good either? Whenever someone is hiring another, she must learn to read between the lines. Sometimes, references do not want to put down the person but did not have a great experience.
In those instances, they might take their grandma's advice, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." Unless the person on the other line confirms the training or experience listed and speaks glowingly and genuinely of the candidate in question, consider this a possible red flag.
Probe deeper. Ask why the person seems to be holding back or if there were any negatives that concerned her or him about this potential midwife. Be pointed and direct. The purpose of these calls is to see past the veil of the resume.
12 There's No Chemistry
Midwives are with women during labor and delivery, one of the most personal, revealing, and emotional times in a person's life. Letting someone be in that room at that moment when life begins is a big deal. Mom and midwife should have a good rapport.
They should be comfortable with one another and able to have difficult conversations. While it's most important that mom and midwife get along, it helps if other members of the family, who will be in the delivery room or home, are happy with the choice. Still, mom should have the final say.
She should look for good chemistry with the midwife. Mom will be in various states of undress, facing some pain and discomfort (potentially a lot of that), and experiencing a wide range of emotions in a short timespan. She needs someone who can sympathize with her and understand her needs.
If the two don't share a good rapport, the experience could be negative. The last thing mom wants is a negative birthing experience. This is usually one of the best days in a person's life, so it's important to be surrounded by only the best people.
The truth is that mom can't control much of what happens, but she can carefully choose with whom she'd like to share the experience.
11 Lies, Lies, Lies
Any potential midwife who tells lies to mom or others in the family or healthcare team should never get the job. Just as an exaggerated resume is a red flag so are outright lies. This bears repeating because people don't always recognize how damaging telling lies can be.
Authenticity is the cornerstone of developing a good rapport with someone. It's necessary to the bonding experience. It also reveals the character of a person. A liar will always cut away at the foundation of trust.
So, if the potential midwife tells mom she is meeting with healthcare professionals to discuss the birthing plan and she isn't doing that or she just tells hyperbolic stories about previous deliveries, mom should reconsider. What mom should look for is honesty and caring.
A midwife needs the right knowledge and training but above all she needs to be a good coach, which requires developing a strong relationship with mom, so that the birthing plan and delivery go smoothly.
If it can't go smoothly because of unexpected situations and complications, then mom should have someone strong, kind, and knowledgeable by her side. Indeed, that is when it becomes even more important that there are no lies between mom and midwife.
10 She's Unreliable
Moms should pay attention if midwives repeatedly show up late (or not at all) to appointments or fail to follow through on promises. Labor and delivery are unreliable enough. Much of it is unpredictable and out of mom's control.
As a result, she should seek to find stability in those with whom she surrounds herself. Reliable people on whom she can count can counteract the other chaos for which she can never plan. That is why reliability is so important. Being reliable is also a way to earn trust.
In fact, when spouses have cheated on one another, one of the rules many counselors will suggest enforcing is that both begin the healing by showing up when they say they will and following through on promises. It is the only way to prove commitment and provide security in the relationship.
It's a way to get comfortable with one another and feel more certain about moving forward. Reliability should be a priority, a way to demonstrate one's dedication to her work.
9 Poor Bedside Manner
Everyone is different and has different needs. During birth some moms might prefer a more hands-off midwife while others will want more hand holding. All moms, however, will want some empathy and a good understanding of what's happening to them physically and emotionally.
It is helpful if the midwife and any other healthcare professionals and family members in the room connect with her and can fulfill her needs.
A midwife with poor bedside manner - lack of sympathy, a cold or stoic attitude, an inability to easily explain whatever is happening in a calm fashion - can stress out mom and make the experience decidedly negative. It can also result in poor decision making about how to proceed if any complications come up.
When someone can't sympathize or understand the feelings of mom, she can't make an informed decision about how to proceed. As a result, she becomes the opposite of helpful, which is the opposite of what midwives should do. That's why poor bedside manner makes a midwife untrustworthy.
8 She's Not Knowledgeable
Having the credentials and being able to list all the right kinds of experiences does not guarantee that the midwife in question is knowledgeable.
For starters, some midwives do not do enough to stay on top of changing trends and emerging new information, a result of research and studies on the part of medical professionals. When interviewing potential midwives, ask them about what they know.
Try to find out what their grades were like in relevant courses or their specific opinions on procedures and their stance on using painkillers or an epidural. Those planning a home birth should ask about how the midwife plans to deal with complications or unexpected changes to the birthing plan.
Moms should seek to understand how in the know the midwife is about her profession and the labor and delivery process in general. Asking these questions is a way to determine the cream of the crop and weed out bad actors, who won't be helpful to mom in her hours of need.
7 Never Listens To Mom
The No. 1 rule for anyone who wants to be with mom during delivery is listening to her, paying attention to her needs. It's mom's body, so she's in charge here. Any midwife worth her salt will recognize this and be mom's best cheerleader.
In other words, she'll make sure everyone else falls in line. If the midwife, who is meant to be the leader of mom's crew, fails to listen to mom, then she is not doing her job. She needs to really hear what mom is saying, pick up on cues about how things are progressing, and anticipate needs when she can.
The first step is really paying attention to what mom says. This might mean she repeats back what she has heard to confirm with mom. It might also require repeating what she has confirmed to doctors and other professionals if the mom is delivering in a hospital or birthing center.
The point is that if she doesn't truly hear mom, then she is not the right midwife.
6 Puts On The Pressure
Midwives, in large part, need to keep everyone calm. Labor and delivery can be traumatic even under the best of circumstances. Often, there can be complications, both big and small.
If the midwife is pressuring mom and the family to make certain decisions with which they are not comfortable or loses her cool during the delivery, she is doing a disservice to mom. Again, mom is the most important person in the room (until the baby arrives and even then she's a close second).
Putting pressure on mom or forcing her into decisions is not cool. When moms are looking for a midwife, they should pay close attention to any attempts to manipulate her decisions or make her feel pressured to do anything.
This a red flag and a good reason to move onto someone else for the job. It's smart to ask the potential midwife outright how she handles high-pressure situations, such as labor and delivery and what her demeanor is like. Of course, also ask references about this because she might not be the most objective when it comes to her own behavior.
5 Terrible In A Crisis
Once in awhile, things go terribly wrong during labor and delivery. While moms should not be alarmed, they should be prepared for it. Whether the delivery happens at home or in a hospital, there is a potential for a crisis. Some hiccups are more common than others.
Mom could have cluster contractions or the epidural isn't effective or mom or baby's blood pressure dips (but comes right back). Others are more serious, such as a prolonged drop in blood pressure or the cord wrapped around baby's neck or a number of other unexpected happenings.
The midwife should be mom's rock. She should be keeping everyone calm and helping mom make the right in-the-moment decisions to protect her and her baby. If the potential midwife is not good in a crisis, then she should not get hired.
In some ways, delivery is one big crisis, even if everything goes according to schedule and expectation. For goodness sake, mom is pushing a human being out of her. Everyone should want cooler heads to prevail.
4 Disdain For Medical Professionals
Any hint that the midwife does not at all believe in modern medicine is a red flag. Having a home birth can be wonderful as can doing this without a doctor by one's side. Most vetted midwives are skilled, and women have been delivering babies for eons, long before the invention of hospitals and training of physicians.
And the human race survived. But a simple Google search will reveal a number of horror stories in which midwives made grave mistakes or were simply unable to help mom and baby because of a lack of tools and capability.
A famous story is that of midwife Karen Carr, who plead guilty to felonies in 2011 after a baby boy she helped deliver died two days after birth, according to ABC News.
The breech birth was a risky one to take on at home because sometimes in these cases the baby can get his head stuck and that can cut off his umbilical cord circulation, which can result in brain injury. Apparently, that is what happened with one baby's home delivery in Virginia, where Carr was the midwife.
Although the baby was brought to the hospital, he died two days later. Doctors argue that breech births are too risky at home and that the outcome would have been different had mom been in a hospital for delivery.
While there is no way to know if Carr has disdain for medical professionals or hospitals, she did break the law by delivering a baby in Virginia, where she does not have a license and bucked warnings about breech deliveries at home. Most advise against it for this very reason.
3 Bad Fit For Mom's Birthing Plan
Not everyone thinks the same. This is one of life's gifts and curses. Mom and midwife have to be on the same page about the birthing plan. For example, if mom wants a hospital and the midwife wants a home birth, then mom should move on.
If mom is open to the possibility of an epidural and the midwife insists that is a no-no, mom should move on. The point is that mom should have the final word. The midwife, of course, should be able to share her opinions and offer evidence of why she thinks a certain way, but she should ultimately follow mom's instructions.
Now, if mom's choices are dangerous, such as she still wants a home birth when the baby is breech, then the midwife has to weigh the risks and consider the possible consequences.
Overall, however, the midwife and mom must have a similar long term vision on how the delivery will go and what steps they will take to deal with pain management, the others in the room, and the unexpected.
2 She's A Meanie
Some people are simply cold or mean. It's their personality or their DNA or a reaction to years of pent up resentment. Whatever it is, they hate the world and they don't treat others nicely. A reluctance to provide small talk, a challenging attitude, and offensive language can all be signs of a mean midwife.
This is not the kind of person moms want around their babies. Newborns need love and affection and all sorts of good vibes. New moms need that, too. There's no place for meanies in the delivery room. Granted, some people can be gruff but are really softies on the inside.
In other words, give people a fair shake before making this determination. But if after spending time with the midwife one's gut still feels wrong about this choice, then it's okay to move on. Seeking kindness should be a top priority for any mom, after all.
1 Unprepared For The Worst
Most moms will have a fairly smooth birthing experience. After all, women have been delivering babies from the beginning of time. But one can never predict with certainty what might happen. Ultimately, the midwife must be prepared for anything that comes her way.
Before hiring a midwife moms should drill candidates to find out how they prepare for the unthinkable, what kinds of challenges they have already faced with other clients, and what kind of training they have had for medical crisis. Moms can't be squeamish or embarrassed to ask the tough questions.
It's the only way they can find out what they need to know to make an informed decision about who to hire as a midwife. Remember, the reason many women turn to midwives in the first place is because they provide both physical and emotional support during delivery. That's a great comfort to many moms, especially first timers.
Asking friends and family for suggestions is a great place to start. Ultimately, the decision is in mom's hands. Noticing the warning signs that the midwife is not a good choice can help narrow down the list of potential midwives and find the perfect match for mom.