Let's say you have decided that you want to have a planned home birth (see Planned Home Birth: Is it For You?). Now, how do you go about choosing a midwife? There are several issues to consider.
First, there are the logistical issues:
Is there a midwife in your area? If not, is there one who will travel to you?
Next, is she (or he) taking new clients for your due-month (the month of your estimated due date)? Does this practice accept your insurance as payment in full? Is a deposit or other payment anticipated?
Next, there are the rational/intellectual issues:
There are many questions to consider about background, training, emergency preparation, equipment and personal brought to births, types of prenatal tests offered, how referral or transfer of care works... Consider having some questions prepared before you interview midwives. (See Questions For Homebirth Midwife) (Also, the NYSALM Position Statement on Planned Home Birth in New York may be useful)
Then there is the personal issues:
How do you feel in the company of this midwife? How does your partner feel? Can you see yourself giving birth with this midwife nearby? How does her/his voice sound in your head? Are you comfortable in this midwife's presence? Does working with this midwife seem like a good 'fit'?
A dear friend and colleague is pregnant. She interviewed me with the idea that I might possibly become her midwife for this pregnancy. She wrote me later to let me know that she and her partner had chosen to work with a different midwife. She let me know that she loved and respected me and she hoped I knew that the decision 'wasn't personal.'
I wrote back that I loved and respected her too and yes, it was personal.
Of course it is personal. The decision of who is going to attend your planned home birth, is very personal. And it should be.
In the Capital District of NY, we suddenly have a plethora of homebirth midwifery practices and two full coverage hospital practices. While it is wonderful for women to have so many choices, it also is creating tension, even a competitive air. I have even heard the term 'camps' used about midwives. "Oh, of course, Suzy wants her friend to join Camp Betsy but I want her to join Camp Michelle."
This air of competition is perhaps inevitable but it makes me sad. Choosing a midwife to attend your home birth is a personal decision. Like all midwives, I work hard to respect women's decisions, their logistical, intellectual and personal decisions.
My pregnant friend and colleague decided to not hire me as her midwife. She decided on two midwives that live in her community, that occasionally work together and that are also friends of hers. To make this very personal decision, she balanced many factors including social, intellectual, logistical, and personal information. In the end she arrived at a wonderful decision, one that fits my friend well.
So, if you find yourself in the lucky position of choosing between several midwives for your planned home birth, gather information and garner impressions. Then maybe get a little more information. Then sit quietly and make your decision. I am sure that you will make a good one.
May all babies be born into loving hands