How to Interview a Midwife

May people ask me "what questions do I ask when interviewing a midwife?". Although that is a great question, and we will definitely cover that, another component to interviewing is asking yourself "what type of person do I want watching me tromp around naked and then squat in front of her grunting out baby and possibly more?"

Laugh if you want, but it's true. Make sure that you take time to consider what type of midwife you want for that type of a time. 

Perhaps you want a matronly woman, perhaps one to sit in the corner knitting in the rocking chair while you power around, or lounge in the candle lit bathtub. Who knows, she may even have a silver hair or two.

Perhaps you want a young and upbeat midwife in colorful skirts and piercings who makes you grin from ear to ear and can talk about the latest trends with while you hula through contractions.

Perhaps you envision her smelling like patchouli, intoning with you and rocking with you as you lean against her shoulder, brushing her dreadlocks aside. She takes your pace in stride. 

And perhaps you see her with clear, sharp eyes, and a cooler-than-a-cucumber attitude who charts diligently, gently directs you and keeps the rhythm of your labor and your clinical care to-the-clock.

Whatever you envision, keep that vision in the forefront of your mind as you start the interviewing process.

When you do begin interviewing midwives, try your hardest to interview more than one, and in person, so you can see her mannerisms and hear her voice. Can you see this person moving through your birthing space? Can you hear this voice making suggestions to you or talking you through the most intense part of the journey?

And then the questions to consider asking her. This is a small compilation of some of the information that will help you to make a decision on if you feel she is qualified to attend your birthing time:

Training and Skills:
  • How, when, and where did you receive your midwifery education 
  • How much experience do you have in the birth profession?
  • Is your certification in CPR and neonatal resuscitation up to date?
  • What is your rate of transport? cesarean? Episiotomies?
  • Do you participate in regular peer reviews?
  • Do you have midwife or OB backup?
  • What emergency equipment and medications/herbs do you bring to the delivery?
  • Do you recommend any herbs or supplements to help with pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and breastfeeding?
  • What is your personal style and/or procedure for pregnancy, labor, and birth?
  • Do you consider yourself hands-on or hands-off? Why?
  • Do you have references? 
Prenatal Care:
  • What does prenatal care look like?
  • What are your expectations of clients during pregnancy?
  • Can you recommend or will you loan to us books, videos, internet sites, etc. to help us prepare for homebirth?
  • Do you recommend that my partner and I take a childbirth education class or attend pregnancy discussion groups?
  • Do you work alone or with a partner/backup?
  • Do you test for Group B strep? If so, how is it treated?

Labor and Birth:
  • How far past the official due date will you allow me to go? What happens if I pass that point?
  • During labor, when should I call you?
  • What supplies do I need to get for the birth?
  • Do you have a tub the clients can use?
  • How many women do you have that are due 2 weeks on either side of my due date?
  • What is your plan if someone else is in labor when I am?
  • What is some of the equipment you bring to a birth?
  • What methods do you suggest to alleviate labor discomfort?
  • When will you come to me? About what point in labor?
  • How much time do you spend with a laboring mother?
  • What has your experience been with doulas at labors?
  • Do you bring an assistant or encourage an extra set of hands (like a doula) be there?
  • What do you do if the baby is presenting breech? How about a surprise twin?
  • How long are you comfortable waiting on a mom whose water has broken as long as she is not showing signs of infection?
  • To what hospital do you transport if this becomes necessary? Who will go with me?
  • Do you have a doctor that you work with who will take care of me if a transport becomes necessary?
  • What makes a hospital transfer necessary?
  • If I am 10cm dilated but don’t feel the urge to push, what would your response be?
  • Do you put limitations on how long I push as long as baby and I are ok?
  • Do you give eye ointment/vitamin K shot to baby?
  • How would you control postpartum hemorrhaging?
  • Can the cord be allowed to pulse before cutting? What if we want to consider lotus birth or waiting until the placenta is birthed to cut? 
  • What are your thoughts on cord burning in lieu of cord cutting?
  • Can we give the baby time to breastfeed right upon birth before disturbing it to clean/weigh and so on?
  • Will we be given the chance to be a part of the newborn exams?
  • What do you do if I tear? Can you stitch me or does an MD have to?
  • How often will you make postpartum visits?
  • Are the postpartum visits in my home or at your office?
  • What do you do with the placenta?
There are a great many more things you can ask a midwife at an interview, the list goes on and on, but this will give you a pretty good starting point. What kind of midwife resonates with you? What questions are not on that list that you would ask?


Kristal said...

What a great list of questions. It reminded me a lot of my experience when I had my son and the luxury of being able to choose my midwife. I have since moved from Canada to the UK and in the public health care system you just don't know who is going to show up.

Kim said...

So funny, b/c I was just going to say, "I WISH I'd gotten to interview my midwives!" not that I'd have chosen someone different, but in my town (in Southern Ontario) 40% of women who want a midwife can't get one and really - if you get into a clinic, you go with who you're assigned for fear of not getting another!


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