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How to Choose Independent Midwives for a Home Birth

2012 February 29

Independent midwives are becoming a popular choice among pregnant families.  Many mothers feel safest in the hands of midwives who do not have to deal with the problems of understaffing in NHS hospitals, and prefer the more personal approach.


Independent midwives are generally most popular amongst women who want as natural a birth as possible.  Childbirth is seen as an important rite of passage by many women, so it’s understandable that they wish to hire midwives whose ideals mesh with their own.


So, how do you go about choosing your midwives? Here are some of the things you would want to consider.


What are their perinatal mortality and morbidity rates?

Perinatal mortality and morbidity are the statistics that you should be concerned with when choosing your midwives.  The terms cover death or serious injury in late term pregnancy, during birth and the immediate postpartum period.  Of course, some deaths cannot be avoided, but you will want to know whether their statistics are within normal ranges.


What is their transfer rate?

Many people who are hoping for a home birth will look for the midwives with the lowest transfer rate.  A low transfer rate is good for those who are seeking a natural home birth, but you should also look at this number in conjunction with their perinatal mortality rates.  A low transfer rate coupled with a higher than average perinatal mortality rate is a sign that you should run for the hills.


What are their feelings towards natural birth?

If it is important to you to have a natural birth – and if you’re seeking a home birth, that’s most probably the case – you will want to be in the hands of midwives who believe in natural birth as much as you do.  Finding a balance is hard sometimes as midwives are medical professionals first and foremost – their primary concern is your health, and the health of your baby.  You cannot expect professional midwives to agree to attend a home birth if the risk of danger to you or the baby is too high.  Of course, your eligibility for home birth will depend on many factors such as any previous pregnancy complications, your distance from the hospital and how many children you have had.  Again, balance is the key.  Try to find midwives who are passionate about, and trust in natural birth and its benefits, without being too dismissive of the fact that sometimes complications occur despite all our hard work in preparing.


What happens if you need to transfer?

You will need to know what happens if you end up having to transfer to hospital.  Will your midwives accompany you?  And in what capacity will they accompany you?  Usually, they will accompany you in the capacity of a doula (a labour and post-partum support person) but you will need to check this before the birth.


What happens if your midwives aren’t available?

Babies rarely come when they are expected to, and sometimes emergencies will crop up that mean your midwives won’t be available to attend your birth.  Make sure that they have a contingency plan.  Usually there will be many midwives within a private practice, but make sure that there will always be somebody available to come to you.

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