Finding A Midwife: A Guide to Researching, Interviewing + Hiring Your Future Midwife
Updated: Feb 21
Have you fallen in love with the midwifery model of care and you're ready to explore hiring a midwife for your upcoming birth? In this post we aim to equip you with everything you need to go out on the midwife hunt, including what questions to ask a potential midwife, that leads you to a provider you feel comfortable with and confident in partnering with you for this pregnancy and birth.
When is the best time to be looking for a midwife? We say it's never too early! Many midwives will offer well-woman care or preconception counseling to women who are not pregnant yet. If this is you, go grab our free Prep for Pregnancy checklist right HERE. This is a great time to explore some of the midwifery care options in your community. If you are already pregnant, we will still advocate for checking out midwives as early as possible. In our practice we will see pregnant clients right away, as early as 6 or 8 weeks. We believe there is a huge benefit to begin building the relationship right away. In the same vain, it's never too late to hire a midwife! If you are unsatisfied with your care in another setting, listen to that important voice urging you to find better care. We have taken on clients as late as in their last month of pregnancy- it's worth looking into your options.
We have jam packed this post with all our best advice and info about finding a midwife. You can expect to find all the details here about the following:
Interviewing/ Consulting with Midwives : (Interview questions included)
If you happen to be reading this and are not yet familiar with how midwifery care is different, take a happy little gander at this graphic below. Although both models take care of women during pregnancy and birth, they are NOT equal! You can learn more about how our practice specifically sets itself apart HERE.
1. Getting Clear on Your Ideal Midwife:
This may surprise you (or maybe not) but there is some personal work to do before you go about researching and interviewing midwives for your birth. It's possible to jump into the hiring process with so much eagerness and excitement that you accidentally miss some super important steps that can leave you with "buyers remorse".
Would you believe me if I told you that not all midwives are the same? Simply selecting anyone who will attend your birth at home is going to leave out the important nuances of personality, care style, service offerings, professional background, training depth, philosophies about birth and communication style, just to name a few! Your satisfaction with your care and your birth experience can be very closely tied to the individual you choose to be by your side.
You should be quite clear on exactly what kind of birth you want, how you envision it unfolding and what type of help you expect to have from your midwife/midwifery team. It is very common for parents to begin interviewing midwives as they are exploring the idea of where and how to give birth- and there is nothing wrong with exploring of course, but your thoughts about the type of midwife you want are going to change and take shape AFTER you have decided with certainty that you want a midwife attended homebirth. How do you know if homebirth is right for you? Read the helpful checklist in THIS blog post.
Yes, you CAN create a birth vision that reflects your core values. You can get clear on details about your future experience and how you want to feel at your birth long before the day arrives. If you need help creating this vision, make sure to download our free birth vision worksheet HERE. Curious about what the difference is between a birth vision and a birth plan? Learn more in this short video HERE.
As you move forward with your research and planning, be sure to return to you vision and values. The midwife that you select in the end should be someone you can imagine fitting almost seamlessly into your birth vision.
2. Collecting Midwife Referrals
This can often be where the future mama gets stuck. Especially if you are exploring the idea of midwifery for the first time you may not be connected to any resources that can help you figure out where to start with locating midwives. We are here to help!
Depending on your area, there may only be 1 or 2 midwives to consider. Or you may have an overwhelming list to go off of that you need to narrow down somehow. Pay attention to the names that are mentioned multiple times, those are definitely midwives you will want to consider.
The gold standard for midwifery referrals is going to be word of mouth. You may have to be creative in how you put yourself in the position of engaging with others on this. Start to ask other moms you know or run into out on errands. Join message boards or online groups for your local area that welcome alternative birth and lifestyle topics. Ask these women about their specific experiences with the midwife they recommend. Did they use them personally or just someone they know? Were they happy with their care in the same ways you hope to be?
The next best way to locate midwife referrals is by provider recommendation. Reach out to alternative health businesses in your area. Some great places to start are birth and postpartum doulas, private childbirth educators, chiropractors and massage therapists. Have these providers met with or seen this midwife in action? What do their clients say about working with the midwife recommended?
Lastly, if the above ideas did not produce enough referrals for you to check out, get to work searching online. Most states have a governing board that holds a registry of midwives in any specific area. You can search "Registry of midwives in (your state)" to see all of the options. It's quite often that the lists will be separated by credentialing so take note of the CPM (certified professional midwife) or CNM (certified nurse midwife) provided in the names you find. Almost all CPMs work out of hospital but most CNMs work in hospital- you just want to be sure you are looking at a list of midwives who are going to offer services in your desired birth location. You can also simply use the search term "midwife near me" or "homebirth midwife in (your city)" to bring up more results to consider.
3. Doing Research on Midwives
Now you have your list of midwives built up and you are ready to figure out who is worth pursuing in a face to face meeting. There are so many ways to go about this, but we have a few tips in mind to help you sort through the most important pieces. Finding the midwife who is right for you is a bit of a mix of art and science- matching both personality and competency. The better the fit, the more comfortable everyone will be, and the more trust that will develop. Begin your research with the goal in mind to eventually form a healthy relationship with your midwife.
If your referral was word of mouth, make some notes about what you learned as you collected the recommendation. If you don't know much about any midwives on your list, the internet is the best place to do a little bit of digging. Check out their professional website, read through all their available material, peruse any business listing with reviews like Google or Yelp, and scope out their social media presence.
Here are some question to help you rate a midwife being an initial good fit:
Where is their office located and do all visits take place there?
Do the services they offer seem standard or does anything stand out about them?
What are the fees for their care and what is not included?
Do they work with insurance or offer any flexible financial terms?
Does the practice appear big or small? How busy does it seem?
How long have they been practicing and how long have they served your area?
What are some of the words they/others use to describe themselves or their care that resonate with you?
Are there any red flags raised or big question marks you have for any particular part of what you learned about them? (Don't ignore these!!!)
Are the steps for reaching out to connect with them about a consultation clear and easy to follow?
There are no right answers to any of these questions. Pay attention to what you learn in this phase but try not to let it sway you too far in any direction about this midwife being the right match for you or not. The purpose of this exercise is to decide who you want to meet first. There may be only a few midwives on your list, or potentially several- but you should start to see some of the ones you are most interested in make their way to the top of your list.
We recommend meeting with 3-5 midwives for an interview. Any less and you may not truly have enough interactions to make an informed decision. Any more and they may all start to blur together causing you to feel lost in the choices. For a deeper dive into what you may be looking for in this researching phase, listen to our podcast episode Interviewing a Care Provider, HERE.
4. Interviewing/ Consulting with Midwives
Before we dive in here, if the midwife you are checking out does not offer a way to meet and greet before hire, you likely want to move along. Midwifery care is meant to be given in extremely personalized ways and BOTH the midwife and the expectant couple should be mutually interested in feeling one another out before making a decision to work together.
That's right, the interview goes both ways! You are the one who is doing the hiring and the investing in midwifery care, but because of how personal the care is, midwives should be asking you important questions about your desires and expectations as well. Look out for that! Here are some sample questions that we ask the parents in our own interview process:
Why do you want to have your baby at home?
What is your vision for this birth?
What do you see the role of your midwives being?
How is the birthing parents’ responsibility different planning a homebirth instead of a hospital birth?
What are some or your ideas for coping with labor?
In our experience, most of the midwives in the same community are going to offer about the same type of care on paper. The services available and how care is given will likely be comparable. The most important thing you can pay attention to as you interview is the connection you feel in person. This is a feeling you can trust and will go a long way when your birthing time comes. We'll provide a whole long list of interview questions for you to consider asking but in the meantime, here are some aspects of interviewing that you have to feel more than hear...
How does the communication feel to set up the consultation? Does it reassure you and feel attentive?
Get a feel for the culture in the office. Is staff welcoming, is the environment warm, does it feel like the right mix of casual and professional to you?
How do they respond to your questions- do you feel heard and respected? Could you trust the relationship that will build?
Professional experience can very well be a top priority for the consumer who is midwife shopping, but we would challenge you to be even more aware of how the topics of safety are handled and shared. What should you know about homebirth safety? Read through this informative article HERE. You want a midwife who is transparent and open about her own limitations, risks in birth and philosophy around managing complications. If you get a bad feeling about how these items are discussed, all the experience in the world will not make you feel more secure.
Is she easy to talk to? Does she seem interested in what you have to share?
How does your partner feel about the interaction? Was he at ease and encouraged to ask questions? Did the midwife address both of you as a dynamic and united parenting team?
And finally, we share with you our trusty resource: Questions to Ask in a Midwife Interview. A free PDF can be found and downloaded at the link below. Look this over with your partner before the midwifery meeting. You may not feel the need to ask every question, or you may find that the answers for many of them come up in normal conversation. It is sure to be a great jumping off place to make the most of your interview time. Save the responses to compare to different interviews with the other midwives you meet with and refresh yourself on what you learned from your consult time.
5. Hiring Your Midwife
How will you know who you should move forward with after all this? What if all the midwives you met with were equally lovely and engaging in their own way? We are going to return to some of the sentiments we have spoken about earlier in this post to help you decide.
Who can you imagine fitting seamlessly into your birth vision?
Who made your partner the most comfortable?
Who provides the most general sense of peace in your interactions?
Should you make a decision based off of location or price? You are the only one who can really know the limitations of your own resources. However, barring a true and dire need for only the distance or finances to work, we will always encourage the midwife who is a better fit for you mentally and emotionally. For some ideas on how to make midwifery more affordable, read THIS.
How long should you wait to make it official? It would be ideal to work as quickly as you are able to make careful and thorough inquiries during your search. Many midwives book up quickly, but you will also want to keep all the interview experiences fresh in your mind as you consider which one is right for you. If it is within your power, try to keep your interview time to within a fews weeks total.
Have you picked someone? Hooray! You patiently walked through the involved and important steps of finding YOUR midwife. Celebrations are in order!
Return to the answer to question # 23 from your Questions to Ask in a Midwife Interview download and get your midwifery care started as soon as possible! It would be very courteous of you to also reach out to the midwives you met but are not selecting and let them know you have hired another practice. We recommend waiting for confirmation from your selected midwife that she can still bring you on before letting the other midwives know. You will want some backup options in case your favorite choice no longer has space for you or didn't perceive you both as a good mutual fit.
Please allow our final thought here to serve as a reminder that YOU are in the driver’s seat of your care choices and you are the one hiring a midwife. If any of them do not seem like the right fit for you, trust that intuition and keep looking!
All our best on this amazing journey,
xo Tiffany + Kelly
PS. Do you thrive on this level of detailed planning as you go about big life changes for the first time? If yes, you are sure to enjoy the heck out of our best postpartum resource, The Postpartum Planning + Support Bundle. A confident and connected postpartum is waiting for you!