While writing this article, it seemed clear to me that not many women knew what a midwife was or what she even did. Midwives are often confused for doulas or even women in nursing who don't have the proper training, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.
A midwife is a person who assists a woman through labor, the delivery, and checking on the baby post-labor. The beauty of midwives (depending on where the expected mother finds her midwife) is that they can perform their tasks at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital. That being said, midwives aren't always covered by insurance, so it's important to find that out before hiring one for the big day. Since midwifery isn't always part of a person's insurance plan, they can outsource their midwives through different companies; but this doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing.
Midwives attend schooling for years to be given the proper credentials to perform their kind of work safely. So if a new mom is considering hiring a midwife, she should be sure to ask these generic questions before going through with the service or selecting a midwife. Like with doctors, parents have the freedom to choose the right fit for a midwife, as well.
20 What Are Their Credentials?
According to Web MD, there are a few credentials midwives can achieve. There's becoming a certified nurse midwife (CNM), a certified midwife (CM), and a certified professional midwife (CPM) (along with a few other acronyms).
CNMs are also nurses who went through additional training to be accredited in midwifery, as well. They're also able to perform in any of the 50 states. Certified midwives (CMs) are not nurses, but rather have their training done specifically at a midwife program and have a bachelor's degree. They must pass a national exam before being given their credentials. Lastly, a CPM is a non-nurse midwife who "have training and clinical experience in childbirth," however, not all states accept CPMs.
19 Is There A Backup Midwife Available?
Knowing the ins and outs of your labor and delivery are essential, so making sure your midwife is there for you and you only on your big day is important. Double births can happen, however, with women going into labor at the same time or a day apart. In these cases, it's a good idea to check in with your midwife to see what they had in mind for these kinds of circumstances. Do they have a backup midwife on standby? And if so, is there a way for you to meet the backup in case of an emergency? It's better to ask than assume.
18 Are They Licensed In Your State?
Not every kind of midwife is able to practice in every state; it all depends on their credentials. If you're going through your hospital to find a midwife, then the chances are they are accredited in your chosen state. If you're going through a midwife service, it's better to ask and see their credentials instead of being swindled on one of the most important days in your life. If your hospital does not offer a midwife service, ask them for a referral for a midwifery service that can help out. Those in the medical field tend to know which services are the best.
17 Do They Have Any Hospital Privileges? What Hospitals?
If you didn't find your midwife at the hospital you're delivering in, then you might want to ask them if they have any hospital privileges. In this case, hospital privileges refers to a tour of the hospital (especially in the night) to make sure mama and her partner know exactly where to go. And as Parents explains "Midwives who routinely deliver in the hospital are usually able to manage Pitocin and epidurals and just keep their backup physician informed." They also may have "first-assist privileges for a cesarean" if needed. Having the connections at a hospital may not seem that big of a deal, but when it's time for baby to come, every little bit helps.
16 Will They Have Help During The Labor?
If this is your first baby, the entire labor experience is so new. You have no idea how the labor is going to go and who's all going to be in the room. Sure, your OBGYN and midwife will be there, but does a midwife need backup? Typically, midwives come alone. They'll be working with you, your doctor, and your nurses — there really is no need for help from an extra midwife. If you request the help of two midwives, or perhaps a midwife in training (a shadow, if you will), that's a different story. Nevertheless, make sure you confirm that you'll only be working with a singular midwife.
15 How Much Experience Do They Have?
One of the main questions you should ask is how many births they've assisted in. Granted, there will always be a midwife who is new to the profession and needs the experience, but if you'd rather work with someone who's a little more seasoned, you can definitely ask how long they've been a midwife and how many children they've helped deliver. Most midwives keep track of how many babies they've delivered — you can call it a medal of honor! Regardless, if you do work with someone who's a little new to the trade, as long as they're certified, you'll be in good hands.
14 Where Will The Prenatals Take Place?
Some services come along with prenatal care, meaning you can meet your midwife and talk about any concerns you may have. If prenatal care is accepted, be sure to ask your new midwife where the meetings will take place. Will they be at a local hospital? Are they able to come by the house and do the check-up there? Midwives want to make this process as safe and easy for you as possible, so most will be able to find a location that's perfect for both parties to feel comfortable in. And while many would feel more comfortable in a professional environment, others would much rather be in the comfort of their own home.
13 What Happens If There's A Complication?
Unfortunately, complications during pregnancy and labor do happen. In these trying times, you need to ask your midwife how they handle these situations, even suggesting the routes they would take to see if they match your ideals. As Bundoo notes, not all complications need to rip a mother away from her midwife. In fact, they can make complications easier. In times of emergencies where you may need to leave your room or hospital, midwives can "inform you of the need for transfer, discuss your care with an obstetrician, arrange for transfer to a hospital (if you are not in one) or introduce you to your new medical team (if you are already there), and defer medical decisions to the physician."
12 How Much Are Their Services?
If you are insured, the first thing you should do is ask if your midwife is covered by insurance. If insurance picks up the bill (or, at the very least, half the bill), this can save you a pretty penny. Pregnancy Corner reminds us that most labor/delivery costs around $5,000 if you live in the States, and a midwife would cost $2,000 (ballpark) more than that. Within that fee, however, most prenatal visits, birth, and postpartum visits are covered. "Some midwives offer sliding scales, trades, reduced fees, or payment plans for clients who need financial assistance," the site explains. Regardless of where you find your midwife, be sure to be upfront about the costs and what's included in the costs.
11 Will She Be There For The Birth?
If you're shelling out the cash for a midwife, you better make sure that she'll be there on delivery day (as long as you want her there, of course). While midwives aren't like doulas, coaching you through the process, they will be there for overall support and taking care of you and your baby. They'll be checking on the baby's heart rate, offering pain relief, monitoring progress, and more. They can also be the voice between you and your doctor, which saves a lot of time. So if you're a "more hands on deck" kind of lady, you should make sure your midwife has nowhere else to be on the date you're due.
10 What Happens If You're Overdue?
With a "normal" pregnancy lasting around nine months, a baby can be due within a week (give or take) from the due date given by the doctor, so it's not uncommon for a woman to be overdue. When a baby is making a late arrival and has no signs of making an easy appearance, a midwife can do a "membrane sweep," which will trick your body into getting ready for labor. But this doesn't mean the baby comes out just yet! After the membrane sweep, your midwife will schedule a time for you to be induced, which is then when labor will start.
In case your baby is overdue, ask your midwife what their protocol is and what she would like to see happening.
9 Are They CPR Certified?
Depending on where you found your midwife, they may have different credentials than the next. Regardless of experience or the state you're in, though, you should ask if your midwife is CPR certified. Some may be certified due to training and whatnot, but I'd ask to see documentation proving so. There's nothing worse than working with someone who claims they're accredited in a skill, only to flop when the challenge arises. Being CPR certified is important in case anything happens to mom or baby in the delivery room. Heck, even a family member who's in the delivery room showing support.
As a new mom, you want to make sure everyone you're working with has their best foot forward.
8 How Long Will Meetings Last?
Thanks to a few mamas who have worked with midwives before, most suggest your first appointment with your midwife lasts around an hour. Midwives can run a few tests to make sure you're all healthy and will begin creating your chart. A few mothers did note that if you are experiencing complications or happened to have one or two bad habits before getting pregnant, your meetings could run a little longer, going through additional testing and even some educational tools. Most do say to bring a snack and some water with you; there's no need to rush through something if you have questions and concerns.
7 What's Postpartum Life Like?
So, what happens after the nine months of pregnancy, the labor, and the birth? What happens to the relationship between you and your midwife then? Depending on the service or where you found your midwife, some midwives have routinely postpartum visits for up to six weeks following the birth, per CMO. On BabyCenter, however, their professionals claim a mom can contact their midwife for up to 28 days after birth. Since it seems postpartum visits vary with the midwife, it's important to ask what you're given after that sweet baby arrives.
6 What Percentage Of Moms Need A C-Section?
Getting a C-section is a huge surgery. While most women want a natural birth, others would prefer the C-section before it's less painful. However, the pain really kicks in after the doctor stitches you back up. If a C-section is something you prefer or want to stay away from at all costs, you should ask your midwife's stance on them and how they would handle the situation. Reuters actually explains that women who have a midwife (and more medical professionals around, in general), actually lowers the risk of needing a C-section. These surgeries tend to stir up complications postpartum, too, so asking how your midwife handles these emergencies needs to be conversed about.
5 Availability For Questions?
Is your midwife available for questions, concerns, and updates 24-7, or do they have typical office hours? Some women treat their midwife like their own personal concierge service, calling them whenever they want, a hundred times a day. Some midwives are okay with this, while others need a little distance from their patients to enjoy their "non-midwife" life. Though they're a medical professional, they have a life outside of work, too. Knowing how often you can contact your midwife (especially after birth) is something that can make or break your decision when selecting one, so be sure to ask it
4 What Are Their Thoughts On Water Births?
Most water births are done at home, or a particular birthing center. You won't find too many hospitals with an inflatable pool to host water births in. If you're a pregnant mama who is really banking on a water birth, and your midwife isn't all that comfortable with water births, maybe it's best to go with a different midwife. The birth and labor are about you and your baby, so it's ideal to find someone who shares your same outlook.
Just like all things when pertaining to labor and delivery, a water birth has its benefits and its risks, so go through all of these when you find a midwife who shares your goals.
3 What's Their Comfortability With Working With A Doula?
Doulas and midwives seem to get mixed up by people who aren't in the medical world. As The Bump says "A midwife is a health care provider, while a doula is more of a childbirth coach." Midwives have the credentials and capability to help deliver a baby at the woman's home, hospitals, and other birthing centers. A doula, on the other hand, doesn't actually "replace your healthcare practitioner," rather they enhance the experience with techniques for an easy labor. Having two in the same room would be ideal for a mama, but asking your midwife if they mind working hand-in-hand with a doula is an important question. Labor and delivery takes a team, and you want to make sure those teammates work together.
2 Are They Able To Help With Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding seems so easy in TV shows and movies. The baby comes out screaming, the woman gets ready to feed, and the baby starts feeding immediately, before falling asleep for a few hours. Boom — done. But it's not always that simple; breastfeeding can be hard for a woman to get the hang of, and the same can be said for the baby! Babies sometimes have trouble latching on, so having a midwife coach you and the baby through these trying times is a huge relief after going through something as tiring as birth. It's also nice to know if your midwife is available postpartum for breastfeeding questions once you get the hang of it.
1 Will They Help With The Birthing Plan?
We hear "make a birthing plan!" all the time, but what exactly if a birthing plan? Sure, we know to pack a bag for the hospital, but what else? A new mother wouldn't necessarily know how to make a birthing plan without a little help.
Within the birthing plan, midwives can suggest classes a pregnant mama should take to prepare for birth and postpartum. The plan will also be a guide for health professionals to know who's in the room with you and their role. You can list birthing positions to try, what to do in terms of pain medication, skin-to-skin contact, and so much more. There's a lot a professional midwife can add to one's birthing plan, so feel free to ask their opinion.