Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Midwife
When interviewing a midwife to attend your birth, come prepared to answer as well as ask questions. Be friendly and inquisitive. Make your questions as specific as possible, non-threatening, and personal to your situation. Notice whether you feel relaxed in conversation and whether there is a spirit of dialogue and “getting to know” one another. Informed disclosure includes receiving current information about the risks and benefits of an action or non-action. Families choosing midwifery care tend to prefer this tool along with co-operative decision making when facing the inevitable questions that arise during pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond. Communication and mutual respect are essential to a successful relationship of this nature. No amount of talking can reveal the answers to all the possible aspects of any birth. Discovering whether enough common truths are shared among you and whether the personalities are such to allow for genuine exchange will guide you in choosing your midwife.
How long have you been practicing?
Where and when did you receive your training?
How many births have you attended as the primary midwife? Do you have a statistics disclosure handout?
Do you have written informed consent or disclosure statements?
Do you have paperwork which you request to be filled out and signed?
What criteria do you use for risking out mothers for your service? … for homebirths?
What is your transport rate? … for first time mothers? … for homebirth after cesarean?
What do you consider valid reasons to transport?
Do you have a specific doctor or hospital backup? Do they have criteria different than yours that dictate your decision making?
If we need/decide to transport, would you go to the hospital with us?
What variations and complications have you seen? Breech? Twins? Hemorrhage? How did you handle each?
Do you teach classes? If yes, is there a separate charge?
What is your fee for service? What is included? (pre/post natal care, lab, classes, supplies…)
Do you carry a pager? … cellular phone?
Are there times when you would not be available for communication?
Do you work with an apprentice or partner? Would they be attending the birth with you? Do you have small children? Will they be accompanying you?
What are your feelings about working with a doula (professional labor coach) in the homebirth setting?
Do you have a backup midwife if you become unavailable for our birth?
Do you do episiotomies?
What percentage of your moms require suturing?
What do you recommend to protect the perineum? … during pregnancy? … during birth?
What equipment do you carry? Do you carry oxygen, drugs, medications, herbs?
Do you use a Doppler to monitor baby’s heartbeat in utero? (Many people are concerned over the prenatal use of ultrasound.) If yes, are you skilled and willing to use a fetoscope to help monitor baby’s well-being?
Why did you enter midwifery?
What do you like best about your work? … least?
What do you require of the couples with whom you choose to work?
Do you have specific weight gain, exercise and nutritional guidelines?
How often will we see each other?
What is involved in a prenatal checkup? How long will it last?
Where do prenatal checkups take place?
Do you do home visits?
Do you do water births?
Do you require any prenatal testing?
What will happen if I am Rh negative?
What is your experience integrating older siblings at a birth? … others?
What do you see as your role during the prenatal period?
When do you come to the birth? How long do you stay?
During labor, what do you feel is your role?
Do you work within time limits for progress of labor? … for rupture of membranes? … for pushing?
If there is a tear, what would you recommend?
How do you facilitate the critical initial period of bonding between mother and baby?
Will you help me and my baby establish breastfeeding before going home?
What is included in your normal postpartum/newborn care?
Will you help develop resources for a smooth post partum period?
Do you keep records of my pregnancy and birth? What happens to them? Are they confidential?
What is your commitment to confidentiality?
Do you participate in state/national peer review? Would I have any input into this?
Do you have references who would be willing to talk to us?
Personal (not all midwives will feel it is appropriate to include these kinds of questions)
Are you married?
Do you have children?
Where did you have your babies?
Did you breastfeed? … for how long?
What religion are you?
Is there anything personal you would like us to know about your life or beliefs?
In conclusion, make sure you have taken notes and received answers to everything that is important to you. Ask her if you may call back with additional questions if they come up. Remember to thank the midwife for her time and commitment to such worthy work.
Notice how you feel upon leaving and the next day.
Globally, in the villages around the world, one does not see an isolated mother with her baby. Despite our mass communication and transportation systems, it is possible for new mothers in the USA to feel quite isolated and overwhelmed by the enormous responsibility of nurturing a tiny being to adjusted adulthood… much less the nightly nursings and daily diapers. Do not indulge in isolation. Network and connect with other mothers; some in all stages of motherhood. Create the community you deserve.
Grannies, aunts, sisters ~ family members are often a wealth of support and information. They often help in practical ways like meals or cleaning.
Friends, neighbors ~ choose people to befriend who love, support and encourage you.
La Leche League ~ these breastfeeding experts offer free meetings and support to pregnant and nursing mothers.
Mother’s groups ~ these can be found in local churches, the calendar section of local newspapers, through neighborhoods or your own initiative.
Libraries ~ watch for children’s reading hours, literature tables and summer programs.
State Parks ~ these folks usually have naturalist programs, nature trails, family focus, etc.
Newspapers/Journals ~ note calendar of events or articles related to family interest.
YMCA/pools/resorts ~ water baby programs provide needed outings for mother/baby.
Health Departments/hospitals ~ the government has made commitments to securing food and shelter for families in need of medical care, and information is also available.
Health spas/clubs ~ consider budgeting for a massage and/or learning infant massage.
Health food stores ~ watch the bulletin boards. Be friendly with other mothers there.
Churches ~ people of like mind and faith can be invaluable resources for spiritual and physical support in times of joy as well as sorrow.
Internet ~ find PEOPLE with whom to share.
Spontaneous meetings ~ chance meetings at restaurants, pools, parks, etc. are common among women who breastfeed and show open affection to their babies. Be open to new connections and unexpected friendships.
Missouri Midwives Association, 1325 W. Sunshine, #132, Springfield, MO 65807, 202-MIDWIF-1 (202-643-9431), MissouriMidwivesAssociation.org
Friends of Missouri Midwives, P.O. Box 1336, St. Charles, MO 63302-1336, FriendsofMOMidwives.org