The process of hiring a midwife is a journey that usually includes a few consultations. I recommend meeting with two or three different midwives before making your final decision, just to be sure you have found a good fit. Because women's choice is so important to most midwives, these consultations are generally free of charge.
The first thing to be aware of when you start to look for a provider is that there are two different midwifery licenses in California: the Licensed Midwife (LM) and the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). LMs are licensed by the Medical Board of California, the same board that licenses physicians. They are independent healthcare practitioners who specialize in out-of-hospital births. CNMs are licensed by the Board of Nursing and generally work in hospitals or birth centers, although some have home birth practices as well. Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) hold an international credential in out-of-hospital birth but cannot practice legally in California without one of the aforementioned licenses.
Going on consultations may feel overwhelming at first. Rest assured that most midwives go out of their way to make it an enjoyable and informing experience. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite questions to get you started - I hope you find them helpful. Remember that there are no questions too silly or embarrassing (believe me, we've heard it all). Blessings on your journey!
Twenty questions to ask in your midwifery consultation:
- What kind of training and experience do you have?
- Why did you become a midwife?
- Are you certified or licensed by any professional organizations?
- How many births have you attended in an out-of-hospital setting?
- What is your fee for maternity care and what does that include? When is it due?
- Do you work with insurance?
- How do I reach you in an emergency? For an urgent question? For a non-urgent question?
- What happens if two births are happening at the same time?
- Who do you take with you to births as an assistant?
- What kind of equipment, medications, and supplies do you bring to the birth?
- Are you certified in neonatal resuscitation (NRP) ?
- What is your transport rate? What are the most common reasons for transport?
- If we transported to the hospital, which one would we go to? Would you stay at the hospital with us?
- For what types of issues in pregnancy would I get "risked out" of care?
- How do you handle emergencies such as shoulder dystocia, hemorrhage, or a baby in respiratory distress?
- How do you handle common complications such as nuchal cord (cord wrapped around baby's neck), sub-optimal fetal position, or long labors?
- What kind of postpartum care do you offer? Do you offer newborn care?
- Do you work with doulas and birth photographers?
- Can I or my partner "catch" my own baby?
- Why do you support out-of-hospital birth?
For more questions to ask your midwife, check out the Birth Without Fear Blog at http://birthwithoutfearblog.com/2013/01/01/44-questions-for-your-midwife/
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