Portland, Oregon has a breadth of natural birth providers. We are often asked for recommendations for midwives. Your final choice is a personal one but here are a few things you may consider as you decide on a midwife:
1) Birth Setting: We planned for home births for our children. However there are other options out there. In addition to the many midwives that support home births, some midwives operate in birthing centers and a few in hospital settings – nurse midwives.
Planning a setting for your birth is a good place to start in determining what midwives to consider.
2) Seek Recommendations/Referrals – with a grain of salt!: You may have friends, or family, or read postings on websites such as mothering.com that outline an amazing birth with a fantastic, supportive midwife, angels sang, and everything was beautiful. Thus in their humble opinion, there is clearly only one choice for you: the midwife that shepherded their personal wonderful, life changing experience.
As a parent, you will always have people in your life – and even strangers – who will offer well-meaning recommendations or opinions for you on every aspect of parenting. Well…it turns out that this trend can begin with your pregnancy!
So here is our well-meaning advice, remember that you are in charge of your pregnancy. The midwife you choose will be at YOUR birth, make sure you are making a choice that is right for you.
Definitely seek out recommendations on midwives but get the details, not just the afterglow. Here are some key questions to ask:
- What were prenatal visits like and where were they held?
- What happened at prenatal visits? Did you get all your questions answered at appointments? Were appointments leisurely or rushed? Were they professional or casual?
- Was it easy to contact the midwives between appointments if you had questions or concerns?
- What were postpartum visits like and where were they held?
- How organized was the midwife? Did you have any issues or surprises with billing or record keeping?
- What was the birth like? Did the midwives come as soon as you needed them? How did you feel their “emotional” support was during labor?
- Although you shouldn’t base your decision on price – remember that the safety of the mama and baby is paramount – it is still good ask: What were your out-of-pocket expenses for the birth? What was included in that?
3) Meet the Midwives: Most, if not all, midwives will provide a complimentary consultation. You don’t need to approach this consultation as a formal interview but you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to get any and all questions answered.
During our consultation, our questions focused on the issues outlined previously as well as certification and training of the midwives.
Since it was our first birth (and first home birth) some of our questions also focused on emergency transfer plans and their own experience with emergencies and labor challenges. These types of questions aren’t always easy to ask but are important. If there is an issue during labor, your midwife is your first responder. You should feel comfortable with what their decision-making would be in this regard.
Also if you haven’t already talked with former clients of the midwife, be sure to ask for some client references. Follow-up on any issues that may arise from discussions with any former clients, don’t leave any concerns unresolved.
4) Making a Connection: The births of Mila and Gael were medically uncomplicated (the midwives were still VERY busy) but in both cases the midwives provided some key emotional support during the labor.
A final thing to remember when choosing a midwife is that they will be providing you emotional support as well as medical expertise during your pregnancy and your labor. So It is important that you can see your midwife as being able to support you on a personal level as well as a professional one.
Photo: Jen being silly shopping for pumpkins last October at Kruger’s Farm. Gael is the bump.