Most people know basically what a midwife, is but you may wonder how do you get a midwife? In this blog I will set out your options and give you some things to consider. In the UK, registered midwives are the professional experts in supporting pregnancy, birth and the early days with your baby – when things are progressing normally. Obstetricians (doctors specialising in pregnancy) only become involved if there is something unusual or concerning about your situation, but I feel strongly that you still need a midwife. I sometimes get called by people who are seeing an obstetrician privately, or who are being seen in NHS consultant clinics due to a problem, but who are missing out on all the rest of the skills and information that a midwife can bring. I am glad to work alongside many obstetricians (private and NHS) to achieve the very best for clients.
A few midwives, like me, offer pre-pregnancy appointments to help you prepare for pregnancy. I would love everyone to have this opportunity because it can avoid many additional concerns later on. If you have ongoing health issues a review with a medical specialist before pregnancy may be very important.
Most often, however, the first time people consider how do you get a midwife they are already pregnant. Once you have a positive pregnancy test you may suddenly realise that you simply don’t know who or what to ask!
Do you want private or NHS care? Do you know that you can combine the two? Many people register for NHS care but choose to supplement this with private midwifery. This allows you to have the best of both worlds. Your own midwife, who provides most of your check ups in your home at a convenient time. Those appointments are usually very much longer and more frequent than the NHS can provide. Most private midwives will incorporate a programme of antenatal education into these visits, which is of course personalised to you and your specific circumstances.
If you register with the NHS you will be allocated a “named midwife”. You do not have a choice. In reality you may not see this person very often due to staffing pressures. Your appointments may be at the hospital, in a GP surgery or other community facility such as a children’s centre. Occasionally they may be offered in your home. The timing and location of appointments will be primarily what works for the NHS. As in every life situation, sometimes two people simply don’t work well together. If you feel uncomfortable with any midwife you see, you can contact the community midwife team leader to discuss the problem and to work out a solution (ask the hospital switchboard for the number if it isn’t on your notes).
Thinking about how do you get a midwife, you may decide that you prefer to employ a midwife privately. This can be for all your care, before, during and after the birth. You and the midwife can really get to know one another and this continuity has been shown to provide safer care and is more satisfying for both the client and the midwife. You have the opportunity to find someone who you feel comfortable with and to choose someone with the specific skills, attitudes and beliefs which are important to you. To be registered in the UK all midwives have to meet very strict standards and those working in the NHS and privately have the same initial qualification. The experience that an individual midwife will develop certain aspects of their practice. Some midwives develop specialist skills and interests or gain additional qualifications.
How do you get a private midwife or an independent midwife and what is the difference? I wrote this blog post a couple of years ago in which I explain a bit about the language used and the implications. Fundamentally, both are descriptions of midwives who are not employed by the NHS. The issues to be aware of are 1. Does the midwife have insurance cover for the services you want and 2. Does the midwife have a system in place for support and professional advice? I am glad to work with the Private Midwives team. This enables me to access full insurance, including cover to provide care for labour and birth and gives me a network of professional support. I work closely with a couple of colleagues locally. For homebirths we aim to have two midwives present and we provide cover for each others clients during holidays etc.
The best advice I can give is to explore midwives websites and then to contact one or two midwives and ask questions to find out more about the issues that matter to you. I am always happy to chat about pregnancy and making families!