Pregnancy is a journey, and a midwife is your trusted guide and companion. But choosing a midwife isn’t simply a matter of trial and error. A national midwife shortage means that midwives are in hot demand and can book up early. So it’s important that you find a midwife you feel understands and supports you, and one whose philosophy and practice resonates with your personal beliefs around childbirth. Here are five important qualities you should look for in a midwife.
What kind of communication do you need? Do you like a lot of details and information, or do you prefer to be told only what you really need to know? Be upfront with your midwife about the kind of communication you prefer, and find out whether she is able to provide what you need. Midwives are very busy, so it’s not always possible (nor desirable) to be able to text her at every hour of the day or night – but you should have a clear understanding of when you can expect to hear from her, when you should
get in touch with her, and what to do if she can’t be reached.
Feeling safe is one of the most important aspects of birth, and it’s your midwife’s job to facilitate a safe environment for you to relax and be comfortable in. Part of ensuring your safety is also requiring you to attend regular check-ups in clinic, making recommendations about testing you may wish to consider, and referring you for consultations with specialists if complications arise. A midwife who takes safety
seriously is important, as you can be certain she has your and your baby’s best interests at heart.
Ideally you want to see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, labour, birth, and in the postnatal period. Your midwife may have a back-up, whom you should meet in case your midwife is unavailable for some reason. Talk to your midwife about continuity of care – is she planning a holiday around the time you are due? What will happen if your labour is long and she needs to leave to get some sleep? What if she has another mum in labour at the same time? Ensure you're comfortable with her answers.
Pregnancy is a time of immense change, and even if you have already had a baby before, best practices and standards can change a lot, even in just a few years. As research uncovers new information about what is safest for you and your baby, you want a midwife who is up-to-date on what’s happening in her field and can translate that into giving you the best care possible. Your midwife is a great source of information about pregnancy, labour, and birth, and you should feel confident asking questions and getting the answers you need.
Finally, it’s important that you feel respected, and that your cultural and personal beliefs are integrated into your care. Your beliefs around testing and interventions should be taken into account. Talking with your midwife about your labour and birth is a two-way conversation – your midwife shouldn’t be telling you how it is going to be, but listening to what you want and being open and honest with you about what is safe, possible, and practicable. Birth is a unique experience, so you want a midwife who respects your individuality.