Choosing a Midwife: Questions to Ask a (Homebirth) Midwife

Many folks know they want a midwife, but then wonder: How do I choose a (homebirth) midwife?

Midwives come with equipment!

There are many resources available to give folks an idea of their ideal list of questions to ask a midwife. Take a little from here, a little from there–whatever works for you and perhaps a few that push your boundaries, too. Get yourself a list of midwives in the area. Throw names on there even if you think they may not work out, because you never know. (Caveat: Philosophy that doesn’t match your needs *is* a read flag, however. If you want a natural birth and the site has several photos and lines boasting of facilities for monitoring or administering drugs you probably want to keep that one off the list.)

TIP: Don’t simply judge from the photo on the site!

You may think you want the young, hip looking midwife. What you may need is the older, frumpier midwife. You might think you want a quiet and reserved midwife, but you may find yourself feeling more safe and open with the more assertive and “tell you straight without the sugar” kind of midwife. You won’t know till you know.

My midwife, looking on after the homebirth of my first.

The process of finding a midwife is one you can revel in and use fully for the opportunity it presents. This is not only about finding a midwife, but also about finding out who you are and who you are becoming. These first glimpses and impressions, if we can draw our awareness to them while withholding judgment, provide some of the first insights into the powerful voice of inner wisdom that we have access to during labor and birth.

These fleeting and seemingly insignificant details — that drop I felt in my stomach or heart when they ____, the relief that washed over me when she ____, the nagging doubt or off feeling in the back of my mind (or heart?) — these are important pieces of information.

Newborn checks, when I was ready and after 2 hr delayed cord cutting.

To provide some context in which to feel out your care provider — your prospective (homebirth) midwife — I wanted to get some resources together with questions you might ask. Get together your own list or use any of the lists if you like them that much.

There is no question that is too much. No question too “stupid,” or “personal,” or “picky,” or “annoying.” If you have a question or even think you might have a question in the future, or maybe someone else has posed the question to you, put it on the list.

Here’s the absolutely shortest list I feel reveals some important but sometimes elusive information about your prospective care provider:

1. What is your philosophy of birth?
2. How do you see your role prenatally, at the birth, and postnatally?

3. In your view, how important is it to do invasive interventions such as vaginal exams prenatally or in labor, cervical checks in labor, or ultrasounds throughout pregnancy?

Add-on:

(Because many parents I meet worry that they might die at home because of this or that reason (personal to them) and for many of the cases midwives practicing a midwifery model of care are capable of managing effectively to get to a hospital in a non-emergency transfer or to make the issue of transfer of any kind inapplicable in the first place through prevention, awareness, attentiveness or equipment.)

What tools, approach and equipment do you bring to moments when things go wrong such as hemorrhaging, cord prolapse, meconium in the waters, 4th degree tearing, or some life-threatening event?

Add-on for VBAC/HBAC:

(Because more and more mothers, and fathers, are making decisions about vaginal birth after cesarean section. And because there are so many scare tactics used for these families and choosing your care provider is key to actively and effectively pursuing V/HBAC.)

How do you handle vaginal (home) births after cesarean [V/HBAC] differently than other (home) births?

One Final Add-on:

(Because this may tell you some of what they know and have access to for natural means of this and that thing.)

[Specific] If I needed to induce labor, what natural means could you help me use? OR  [General] What alternative methods (to epidural, say) do you offer for various aspects of birth such as pain management or labor relief?

My son’s homebirth was the first homebirth for the 3 mo daughter of my midwife. (Also my midwife for my daughter’s birth, shown here bouncing baby…)

RESOURCES

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