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5 Steps to Choosing the Ideal Midwife

Navigating the path to motherhood is a journey filled with anticipation and whole lot of questions. For many women, seeking the care of a midwife can provide the personalized, holistically focused prenatal and childbirth care that matches their philosophy and vision for their birth. Still, finding the perfect midwife can be a daunting task for brand new and seasoned mothers alike. Our hope is that this comprehensive guide can help point you in the right direction.

woman rubbing her pregnant belly while making a list on her tablet, and image for a blog post about choosing the right midwife

Step 1: Deciphering Your Midwifery Needs

Begin by understanding what kind of birth experience you desire. Would you prefer an at-home birth, a birth center birth or a hospital-setting birth? Do you seek a midwife with a strong medical background or one with a more holistic touch? The answers to these initial questions will help narrow down what type of midwife you will need to shop for.

When midwife Kelly was planning a homebirth for her second baby after having her first in the hospital, she chose a midwife who was experienced and well-respected in the community. It ended up being a wonderful experience, but afterwards as she learned more about physiological birth, she chose a different midwife for her third baby. Fine-tuning her needs as she grew as a mom and midwife, herself, compelled her to choose a provider who was better match philosophically.

Discovering your own philosophy around birth and being in touch with your birth vision and goals can guide you more easily to a good fit. Choosing a midwife often means aligning yourself with their birth philosophy too. Being clear on this can provide a more stable match.

Step 2: Gathering Midwife Referrals

To gather information about local midwives, tap into your personal networks, social media communities, alternative health providers, or prenatal classes (like exercise, birth prep or playgroups). Hearing directly from women who have personal experiences with a specific midwife can be invaluable, especially if you start to hear the same things about the same providers.

Be careful to weigh these opinions and experiences with your own goals and ideals for birth. A referring mom may be perfectly happy with the level of care a midwife provided, while another mother found her to be hard to communicate with or more medical in her approach to care. If you can discern the birthing goals of the woman giving the recommendation and her opinion of how the midwife met those expectations it may help you see the potential philosophy match.

You can utilize this same concept by using word-of-mouth through online reviews. Google, Yelp and testimonials on websites can give you and idea of a midwife's strengths, or any potential red flags you should be aware of.

Step 3: Diving into Midwife Research

Armed with your list of referrals, deep dive into researching each potential midwife. Pay attention to details like online presence, styles of communication, and transparency regarding fees and services. A midwife who is thoughtful in communicating these important details and sharing information in a way that starts to build trust and confidence, is often a provider who will be tuned into your needs during pregnancy and birth as well.

Ideally, you'll also get a feel for each midwife's approach and personality, helping you to narrow down your options. These first impressions matter! Let some of your intuition or "gut feelings" about a midwife guide you towards your best fit.

Step 4: The Midwife Interview, A Two-Way Conversation

The interview process serves as a mutual understanding phase. You and the potential midwife assess the possibility of working together for the duration of your pregnancy. Questions about her approach, birth philosophy, fee schedule, and emergency preparedness can clarify if she's your ideal match.

Simultaneously, a good midwife will also ask you about your birth philosophy and expectations. This mutual dialogue can establish compatibility and trust. Expect to share why you want midwifery care, what your main goals are for this birth and how you anticipate your midwife providing the type of support you want.

You may want to use an interview question list to help you decide what to ask to get the most information out of the consultation process. You can download our free Questions to Ask in a Midwife Interview and get instant access to 23 clarifying and open-ended questions to bring with you.

Step 5: Selecting Your Ideal Midwife

After conducting your interviews, take some time to reflect and evaluate your choice. It may help to talk over the options with your partner or a trusted friend, or make some pros + cons lists. The best midwife for your journey is the one who aligns closely with your birth philosophy and personal needs. As soon as you know who you want to invite into your birth story, reach out and let them know you'd like to hire them so you can secure your spot in their practice.

Your journey towards finding a midwife should be embraced as a special part of your pregnancy. As you discover more about midwifery, you deepen your understanding of your own desires and expectations. Your chosen midwife should act as a guide and ally, helping you navigate this beautiful season confidently and joyously.

Birthing Through the Midwifery Lens

Are you pregnant and looking to birth with more alternative and personalized tools? Our brand new comprehensive childbirth course can help you gain clarity and confidence for your ideal natural birth. You'll learn how to support what your body already knows how to do on its own, with an emphasis on preventing complications and practical tips to get the most out of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Sign up below to save your spot!

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