How To Choose Your Midwife
The birth of a baby is a powerful, life-changing and, sometimes, a healing experience. There are many different kinds of midwives in Humboldt County, a small but very busy community where many people are looking for a unique birthing experience. From a natural hospital birth to a home birth, birth center, water birth, or VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), there are many options.
I know most of the Licensed Midwives in the county and I can say that I absolutely love each woman who is called to this work. We support each other, work and learn together, and back each other up as needed. Therefore, after you ask about credentials, experience, and training, the most important factor in choosing your midwife is whether you feel a connection with her. Will you feel comfortable with this person by your side through your pregnancy and birth journey?
What Kind Of Birth Do You Want?
There are several types of midwives, some who have formal education and some who do not (such as lay midwives). Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) have completed training for midwifery. Most CNM practice in hospitals, while CPM have specific training and expertise in out-of-hospital births. Licensed Midwives (LM) are CPMs licensed by the California Medical Board to practice in California.
I encourage you to interview different midwives so you can hear what each midwife has to share about how they practice and what their care looks like. Check out potential midwifery websites to read up on their overall philosophy, services offered, certifications held, and what clients have to say about them. If you have friends who have birthed with a midwife, have a birth philosophy similar to yours, and had a good experience, ask for a recommendation. You and your midwife will be spending a lot of time together during your pregnancy. Some midwives take a higher client load than others or take on-call/off-call time. Are you hoping for a midwife to follow you through your pregnancy journey and be there when it comes time for your baby to arrive, or are you open to a midwife on call? From here, you can start to decide who you want to interview.
Make a list of questions that are important to you and your partner. Make sure to ask if they are California licensed and how many clients they take per month/year. Find out what the appointments look like, how often they are and how long they last. Ask about their fees, payment plans, insurance billing and what is not covered in their care. Do they use fetoscopes vs. dopplers and do they offer options for testing in pregnancy? Do they offer home, water, and VBAC births, and what do they recommend for pain management in labor? Ask about the first hour after birth and postpartum care/breastfeeding support. Finally, you can inquire about how they handle complications and emergency situations, hospital transport and back up physicians. You’ll want to know if they are planning a vacation and how far are they willing to travel for a home birth? Soon you will have a sense of your connection with them.
Trust Your Instincts!
If at any point your original provider or birth plan feels like it is no longer the right choice for you, give yourself permission to alter the plan. Women who were certain about hospital birth have switched to a home birth midwife at 40 weeks and vice-versa. Do what you feel is in the best interest of you and your baby.
Birth is something we will always remember and it can and should be a blissful experience. Finding the right midwife for you will ensure that your desires for natural birth and postpartum care will be honored as much as possible.
Tracy Lough, LM, CPM, is a local home birth midwife with Welcoming Dawn Midwifery. She is owner of the “Birth Yurt” located in Fieldbrook, CA. Tracy meets each birth experience with gentleness, respect and safety, while supporting the mother’s and family’s needs and wishes. She was inspired by her own birthing experiences with midwives and has been able to provide a high standard of pregnancy care coupled with a more caring, personal and intimate birth experience. She feels welcomed as a guest for each birth to ensure mother and baby’s safety, or she is able to provide doula support at the hospital if that is the safest place for a baby to arrive. Tracy offers affordable care because she believes low-risk pregnancies often achieve the best outcome with home birth. Every women desiring to have their baby at home with a midwife should have that option. In addition to her midwifery practice, Tracy provides Craniosacral Therapy for mothers and babies, teaches hypnobirthing, offers placenta encapsulation and runs a Waldorf-Inspired Outdoor Nature Preschool on her homestead.