I’ll never forget the look of vulnerability, excitement, and anticipation in a mother’s eyes as she lay on the exam table in front of me - her partner holding her hand with as much anticipation - waiting for that moment when they would first hear their babies heartbeat. It is a life experience I will never give up, because as their midwife I was about to either deliver them the sound or have a hard conversation. This one time some friends, not patients yet, came to me asking if I could find fetal heart tones. I said, “Sure, come on down to the clinic and we will do our best. If I don’t hear anything, I’ll write you an order for an ultrasound.” They scrambled down to the clinic, jumped on the exam table, and we had to fish for that baby. They were swimming deep in her uterus. Once that baby’s heartbeat magnetized to my doppler, it was the loudest, most palpable sound in the room and my friends let out big crocodile tears.
Once the tears stopped, they sat down with a long list of questions so they could get fully informed about whether they would choose a midwife or physician for their birth. This checklist is for you to take with you to your initial consult if you’re considering using a midwife for your prenatal care:
- How long have you been practicing as a midwife?
- What kind of training did you receive?
- What kind of license do you hold?
- What is your relationship like with the doctors you work with?
- Can midwives order the same tests as doctors?
- What is a doula? How is your work and experience different from a doula?
- How early in my pregnancy can I start receiving care?
- What will my appointments look like throughout my pregnancy?
- Will you help me understand how to eat and exercise as my body changes?
- What can my partner do to help during my visits?
- Can I get an epidural with a midwife?
- Do you do home or hospital births?
- What happens if there is an emergency at any time during my care with a midwife?
- What happens to our relationship if I have to transfer from a midwife to a doctor?
- What does care look like during the postpartum weeks?
- Do you take my insurance?
- How much does it cost to receive care from you?
- What can you tell me about how the midwifery model of care is different from standard obstetrical care?
- Do you take FSA/HSA?
- Can I choose to cash pay for my care?
Midwifery care is holistic, and grounded in an understanding of social, emotional, spiritual, cultural, physiological, and the psychological experiences of women. We hope this list provides some direction as you navigate through this momentous transformation in your life.