How do I find a good midwife?
As a homebirth advocate, I'm often asked the question "How do I find a good midwife?"
First I suggest places where you can find referrals in your local area which might include a web page that helps you locate a midwife, looking in the phone book, checking with the local health food stores, calling around to Chiropractic, massage, and other holistic health care offices or talking to other mums in the church nursery. Once you have a name of a midwife, ask that midwife if she is familiar with any other midwives in the area (especially if she is not as close as you'd like).
The next step in finding a midwife is choosing a midwife. So how do you choose the best midwife?
I suggest asking some very specific questions during your interview and always following-up by calling at least 3 mums who have used the midwife in the past. I wasn't as interested in hearing about the "uneventful" birth as I was about problems that went wrong. I want a midwife who is skilled at stepping in and either averting problems or solving them because the more they can handle at home, the less chance of having to be transferred to the hospital. I would say that 3 of my 5 births had challenges associated with them and I was so thankful for a skilled midwife who was able to handle them.
So what are the 2 biggest questions I ask when interviewing a midwife?
1. Have you ever lost a mom or a baby? My first midwife answered "no" and I hired her for my first 3 births. My second midwife answered "yes, she had lost a baby", but she went on to explain the situation and said that even in a hospital setting, they would not have been able to save the baby. I felt very confident with her answer and hired her for my last two births.
2. How many births have you been the primary midwife for? Both of my midwives had over 2,000 births where they were primary. Being the primary midwife is different than asking "how many babies have you caught?" or "how many births have you attended?". You can attend a birth and not do anything. You can step in and catch a baby at the last minute. But the primary midwife is ultimately responsible for everything and should be the most experienced and knowledgeable person at the birth.
I have a whole list of questions that I have created over the years, but I'd like to hear some of the questions you might have for a midwife. Many of these questions would also be applicable when interviewing a doctor. What would you want to know if you were interviewing a caregiver for your birth?