How to Choose a Midwife

Having a midwife for your care provider may be a good option for you if you view pregnancy and birth as a healthy, normal part of life and you wish to have a natural childbirth experience, free of unnecessary medical interventions. How do you choose a midwife? There are several things to consider when making that decision.

Types of Midwives
First, you must consider the different types of midwives.

  • Certified nurse midwives are trained as registered nurses in addition to their midwifery training. If you feel like you would prefer someone with a more medical background, then a nurse midwife may be a good choice for you.
  • Direct-entry or lay midwives train extensively in midwifery, but do not have a nursing degree. Their training is primarily through apprenticeship, so they have lots of hands-on experience dealing with a wide variety of births. Some direct-entry midwives are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. Midwives with this additional certification are called Certified Midwives or Certified Professional Midwives.

Hospital or Home Birth?
The next thing to consider is where you would like to give birth, as the location you choose will play a role in the type of midwife you choose. Certified nurse midwives practice out of hospitals, clinics, birth centers and at home births. Direct-entry midwives generally only attend homebirths, although some also practice in birth centers.

Obviously, each of these places have different pros and cons. A hospital gives you instant access to medical care should the need arise, however it also means that you are not able to have as much control over your birth experience and you are more vulnerable to unnecessary interventions. At home, you are completely in control of your birth, and have the benefit of being in your own comfortable surroundings; however, in the rare event that medical attention is required, you would need to be transported to a medical facility. 

The Personality Test
The most important factor in choosing a midwife is how well you and your midwife get along. This is something that can't be determined from your midwife's resume. Interview several midwives, and in addition to checking their qualifications, ask a lot of questions about their birth philosophies, to be sure they are in line with your own.

Pay attention to how you feel when talking to her, and to how your personalities mesh. It is essential that you feel comfortable with this person, who will be directly involved in one of the most important events of your life: the birth of your child.

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