Midwives are invaluable resource to the empowerment of a gestating woman. Unlike OBGYNs they can provide knowledge, personal attention and friendship. However, it is so important to understand that not all midwives are created equal and in saying this, anyone interested in inviting a midwife into their homes and lives needs to find a midwife that will mesh with them.
What makes a midwife “good” is a definition of your own making! My definition of good and your definition of good may not be similar. While I want someone with a “hands-off” approach, another may want a more “hand-on” midwife. So before you set out to find that “perfect” midwife, you’ll need to decide what characteristics you want. Some leading questions to ask yourself are:
- Do I want someone who leads or follows?
- What kind or type of support do I want?
Once you’ve honestly answered these questions then you can be on the look out for traits or think about the questions you want to ask during a interview. For example: aggressiveness/assertiveness, laid back, quiet, loud, shy, dominating are indicative personality traits that may affect the way a midwife works.
A Midwife’s Role
This is essential in finding a midwife that will mesh well with you. The above paragraph relates to what role YOU want a midwife to play in your birth. However it is vital to get a inkling of what a midwife believes HER role in your birth is. If the two are different, it will make for an uneasy relationship. There is nothing worse than having an uneasy relationship with someone that you plan to birth with. Birth is intimate and requires trust and openness. In that scenario, a woman in the throes of birth pains will be extremely sensitive to that.
Word of Mouth
I believe the best way to credit a midwife is by other’s experiences with them. Reputation reveals more than a website that lists their credentials and career experiences. In this stead, you get personal reviews. Its even better if you personally know the reviewer. If you find two or more people who have experienced the same midwife, look for consistent characteristics (good/bad) in their testimonies.
Making and deciding on a personality profile that works well with you can be shaped by issues that may affect you:
- Religious beliefs? – This can be your personal preference. Maybe you want a Christian midwife of a certain denomination.
- A Teaching/empowering Midwife? – I believe EVERY midwife should be a teaching midwife. It’s how I learned half of what I know! In order to be empowered in knowledge and in your own body a gestating mom needs to prepare for what lies ahead. Does your midwife have certain reading suggestions? What kind of video resources does she have? Is she willing to show/explain the dynamics of a vaginal birth? My husband and I learned SO much by having a teaching midwife.
- Amount of labors attended monthly (self-employed midwives) – If your midwife is self-employed its important to know how many births she attends monthly. I think 2 or 3 births a month is a reasonable number that will enable her to have quality time for you and your questions.
- Works with Other midwives? If yes, who? – If a midwife works with other midwives to manage their workload, then you will need to interview the other midwife as well and determine who will be your primary care provider.
- Amount of interventions (removal of placenta, ultrasound, testing etc.) they feel is necessary? – Do not assume that midwives do not perform any interventions, albeit lower than OBGYNs, there are some interventions midwives perform. You may not want cervical examinations at every visit or ultrasounds. It’s important to express this and inquire into what interventions they perform (personally or by legal mandate)
- Healing with herbs (natural) or medicine? – This can be a personal preference of yours.
- If they do implement herbs are they certified to do so? – If they use herbs as a part of your care, needless to say, it’s important that they know what they’re doing and take the time to explain how, what and why they use what they use.
- Type of births they do? (Water/Lotus/Hypnos births) – This is self-explanatory, but vital. If you want a Lotus birth and a midwife isn’t willing to support you in that, its time to find someone who will. :)
When all is said and done, it is extremely important to remember that despite all the traits that work well with you. There is one thing that can undermine everything they’re about. Before I delve into that, let me preface it by this, there is no question that in some states (such as mine) midwives work under oppression and even persecution. As laboring moms we have a responsibility to be aware and respect their work in this light. However, if a midwife’s work is dominated by the fear of legal persecution, it will affect the quality of their work. Here’s what you, an expectant mom can do… find out what your midwife’s legal parameters are and work with it. I’m not saying you have to go to a law library, but rather, inquire about their legal limitations, and follow it up with personal research.
This guide was complied to reflect my own experiences. Do YOU have any must-haves?