Grab a glass of iced tea and settle in as we explore our first “Ask the Midwife” topic: “What questions should I ask when interviewing a midwife”?
When it comes to our care and that of our babies, we want to leave no stone unturned. And we all probably know the basics. But it takes a little bit more reconnaissance to uncover personality traits or practice philosophy that might not be immediately apparent when you are trying to decide which midwife will be best suited to your needs and preferences.
The following is a list of queries you may want to consider bringing with you when you are interviewing a care provider for the first time. Don’t worry that you are being too particular – we LOVE it when a potential patient has done her research! So whether you bring your list on your Smartphone or go old school with paper in hand – inquire away!
Who will be allowed to support me during labor and birth?
Ask if the midwife/practice allows other family members or friends to be present in addition to partners. And most definitely ask about doulas. Though most midwives welcome the presence of professional labor support, the culture of the staff where they have privileges might not be as open.
Can you describe what happens during labor and birth?
This question really gets to the heart of the differences between having your baby at home, or a free-standing birth center or hospital (and mother/baby-friendly hospitals vs. those that are, well, not so much).
According the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, you’ll want the answer to resemble these statistics:
· They should not try to start labor for more than 1 in 10 women (10%)
· Cesarean Birth rate should be 10% for community hospitals, and 15% for hospitals that have a large high-risk patient population
· Freedom to eat and drink
· Skin-to-skin and all exams of baby performed at mom’s bedside
· Choice of intermittent monitoring
Do you support women with a wide variety of culture beliefs and traditions around birth?
If so, is there anything you would like to bring, or say or do that they would not allow?
What kind of mobility will I be allowed?
Laboring women should have the liberty to move around (and deliver their babies) according to what their bodies need at any given time. Mobility helps a mother’s body open and her baby to journey down and out much more efficiently (and is one of the best comfort techniques a woman can rely on in her labor).
What kind of collaboration do you have with other staff members, places to which I might be transferred, or organizations from which I may need assistance before and after the baby is born?
On the slim chance a transfer from home or a free-standing birth center is necessary, or your baby is born prematurely, does the midwife have a solid reputation with hospital partners who will respect her guidance and her patients?
Does she have direct links to lactation consultants, milk banks, postpartum therapists, and other practitioners who support prenatal and postpartum women? Will any of the above be a seamless process, or might there be any potential issues?
Do you support undisturbed birth?
In Childbirth Connection’s ground-breaking report, Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing and Its Implications for Women, Babies and Maternity Care, “Birth hormones are chemical messengers that your body makes. Your baby makes birth hormones, too. These hormones work together to guide important changes in your bodies—changes that help make labor and birth go smoothly and safely for both of you.”
So, does your midwife and the place where she attends birth allow the natural, physiological process of birth to happen in its own way, in its own time? If not, what intervention is standard protocol, and what is only used when absolutely necessary?
What coping techniques could you offer to me if I’m planning a non-interventional birth?
If you would prefer to not use medication for pain relief, what can the midwife offer to you so that you can best cope with the challenges of labor? She should be able to answer this one with a fairly exhaustive list, as there are many, many ways in which women can access adequate comfort measures during labor and birth.
Will you help me breast feed?
Statistics show that women who are well-informed and buoyed by support and encouragement will fare much better regarding breast feeding than those who aren’t. Your midwife should be very knowledgeable in this area, and have a relationship with at least one excellent International Board Certified Lactation Consultant should you need specialized help postpartum. Also inquire about what to expect from other staff, no matter where you are birthing your baby.
What restrictions might be placed on me because of protocol where you attend births?
This refers to things like Mother/Baby separation and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). Find out whether you have choices regarding delayed cord clamping, circumcision, newborn procedures, LaBoyer baths (where baby is washed right on or near you, in quiet and dim lighting) or no bath at all, if that is your wish.
What questions have you asked when you interviewed your midwives? Did any specific answers turn you off? Seal the deal? Share your experiences with us on Facebook and Instagram!!
For home birth midwife-specific questions, don’t miss this month’s video with Anne Margolis, CNM – Watch Here: https://youtu.be/-Slmerg8nGA
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