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In New Zealand, where I live, midwifery care is pretty much the norm. Women have the opportunity to choose an obstetrician if they wish, but barring complications, the vast amount of women here choose to have a midwife as their primary care provider for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. However, choosing the right midwife can be a little daunting. She (or he!) will be the person that is responsible for the safety of both you and your child. Not only that, but you will possibly be in THE most vulnerable position while you are under her care. As someone who has had both an amazing midwife and a not-so-amazing midwife, I’m going to share with you 4 things to keep in mind in order to choose the right person.
Know Your Rights
First and foremost, know your rights. You are in charge here. I know what it’s like to feel intimidated when talking to a professional. Especially if you’re a first-time mama. You’re entering a world that you’re really not fully informed about and it can be a bit scary. However, you are paying for this service. Even in New Zealand where healthcare is ‘free‘ you’re actually still paying for it. Things may be labelled as ‘free‘ but if you’re working and paying taxes, I can assure you that it isn’t. So, don’t be intimidated. Again, you are in charge of the situation. Don’t feel pressured into making a quick decision and don’t feel as though you’re inconveniencing anyone.
The next thing I would recommend doing is asking around. There’s nothing like hearing the truth from other mamas to know which midwife is worth her weight in gold and which one probably wouldn’t suit you. Ask your mama friends and if you’re in a new town like I was, then turn to Google. I typed in something like “midwives in *insert my town*” and found some online forums where midwives were discussed. Another great place to get feedback is in Buy, Sell, Swap Facebook groups. 🙂
This part is ESSENTIAL. Do not sign up with a midwife without a thorough interview first. In fact, I’m even going to tell you to interview at least two different midwives before making any decisions. This person is going to play a big part in your whole motherhood experience, so it really is best to be thorough and sure of your decision.
Make sure to ask her questions around the type of birth experience you’re after. Is she happy to do a home birth, hospital birth with an epidural, or any other type of birth in between? While I’m sure the majority of midwives are nonbiased, there are a few that have their own agenda. Remember, you’re running the show and she is there to support and guide you through the process.
Don’t forget about qualifications and experience too!
Does she listen? This one was a big issue for me with my second child. My first midwife was absolutely amazing. I honestly couldn’t fault her. However, she took another job during my second pregnancy so I needed to find another midwife. I rushed the process and ended up paying for it. My second midwife was nice enough, however, she didn’t listen. It seemed like she did at the time of the conversation, but every subsequent visit she would ask the same questions over and over as though she had never heard the answers before. It was frustrating. Her mind was elsewhere, and that became evident during the delivery and also postpartum. Don’t get me wrong, she was a really nice person, but she just didn’t listen. Considering that a midwife’s job is made up largely of advocating for their client, this was a major fault.
So, ask your questions, make sure you feel heard, and be sure that your personalities gel!
Trust Your Gut
Welcome to motherhood! Trusting your gut is going to be a big deal from now on. There will be times when it is all you have to go off, so start practising it now. Even if everything else checks out, but something just doesn’t feel right, keep looking. With my first midwife, we could sit and chat for hours. However, with my second it felt like I almost had to entertain her. It was exhausting and again, frustrating. So, don’t make the same mistake as I did. Even if you feel like an inconvenience, trust your gut and find the right person for the job.
There are things about the birth of my second child that I feel a bit robbed of which could have easily been resolved had my midwife just been mentally present. However, her inability to listen still didn’t rob me of the joy of that day. Both my births were incredible experiences that I will forever cherish.
Let me know, what kind of professional care did you have for your births? Obstetric or midwifery? How did you find it?
Christine is mother to two living in New Zealand and blogs at http://christinekeys.net/ .