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The midwifery model of care is a real thing. When I say that I mean that it is a PREDEFINED SYSTEM OF CARE FOR BIRTHING WOMEN. If you are not convinced and you still have the idea that a woman who has a home birth is expecting her midwife  to show up with a hot towel and a pair of scissors, then you might want to read some definitions of midwifery…please, don’t be distracted by the lavender color of the website.

Having an empowered birth involves asking questions. Ok, there are really more than 20 as the title of this posts suggests. There are more like actually 30. Birthing moms ask these questions, and I strongly encourage birth partners to be present in this conversation. If that’s you, then you’ll want to know the answers to these questions, because it’s you who is advocating for the birth plan and the choices you’ve made when she’s deep in the experience of giving birth.

Legalities and businessy-type questions:

  1. Are you currently certified as a midwife and by what organization?
  2. Are you licensed?
  3. How many births have you attended?
  4. Which doulas have you worked with? Who would you recommend?
  5. If you are sick or otherwise unavailable during my labor, who will attend the birth?
  6. How many assistants do you normally bring to the birth?
  7. Who are your usual assistants and when can I meet them?
  8. What is your hospital transfer rate?
  9. Would you stay with me after the transfer and advocate for my decisions?
  10. How familiar are you with procedures in the hospital?
  11. What happens with your fee if I have to transfer out of your care?
  12. Do you file with insurance?

Pregnancy and Birthy-type questions:

  1. What conditions would cause me to be considered ‘high risk’? How would you treat these conditions before they make me ‘high risk’?
  2. Do you require that I take a childbirth education class?
  3. How often will you see me during the pregnancy and how long is a normal visit?
  4. What do you do during these visits? Where do these visits take place?
  5. How do you monitor and check the baby’s heartbeat during pregnancy and labor?
  6. Are you willing to use alternative protocols for Strep B positive?
  7. Have you had any experience with shoulder dystocia? Breech babies? Cord prolapse?
  8. Under what conditions would you artificially rupture the membranes?
  9. Do you do pregnancy and newborn screening blood tests, or will I need to see a doctor for this?
  10.  At what point would you consider the artificial induction of labor?
  11.  What are some of the methods you use for induction of labor?
  12.  What happens if I go past 42 weeks?
  13.  Do you have experience with water birth?
  14.  What equipment do you normally bring to the birth?
  15.  What do you normally do while I am in labor?
  16.  During labor, how active are you in checking the client?
  17.  What is your opinion about eating and drinking during labor?
  18.  How long is it safe to wait for the placenta to be delivered before intervening?

5 Responses to 20 Questions to Ask your Midwife

  1. Jordan Saalfrank says:

    Not loving questions 1 and 2 from the “Legalities and Businessy-type Questions”. They are a bit cookie-cutter and do not acknowledge the realities of the varied training programs of midwives nor what midwives are dealing with today in order to serve families.

    Currently CNM’s (Certified Nurse Midwife) are able to be licensed across the US as hospital and homebirth midwives (as long as they have an MD backup). Only 43 states recognize CPMs (Certified Professional Midwife) as licensed practitioners. The remaining states are constantly battling to push bills through government to recognize and license CPM’s — but have sadly not seen change in decades of attempt. There are also other categories of midwifes (Direct Entry Midwives) that aren’t taken into account with question 1.

    I would love to see the questions reframed to: “How long have you been practicing midwifery?” “Could you tell me a little bit about your training?” Perhaps then families could really hear more about the midwife, her experience level, her ability to offer medical emergency needs and what those would be, get a feel for her bedside manner. The hope from a more open-ended question like these would be that birthing families could come away with an informed choice on who would be a good fit for their birth — rather then a mis-guided “status” from a midwife just being “licensed”.

    • Joe Valley says:

      I believe it is important to understand a midwife’s licensing situation because of its direct bearing upon such things as medical transfer. It was not my intention to infer that an unlicensed midwife is not valuable.

  2. Jordan Saalfrank says:

    My apologies. I am not trying to say you are de-valuing a non-licensed midwife. I gathered that this list of questions was intended to be a great starting point for families beginning a new/unfamiliar search for their midwife and a concrete way for them to come away with great information. The rest of the questions are fantastic! Truly stellar and great examples of informative questions to ask. My hope was just to urge a change in the question phrasing of #1 because, to a “new family eye”, who may not be familiar with the birth lingo and terminology, they may not understand that if a midwife is not licensed, she still may be a great candidate for their birth. You are doing phenomenal work at empowered papa and I can’t wait to see and support your next steps. Thank you for your hard work, insight fullness and thoughtfulness thus far!

  3. Jordan Saalfrank says:

    I forgot to reference your statement regarding transport and how licensing of a midwife could have direct bearing on a transport of a birth. In my conversations with homebirth midwives (CNM, CPM and direct entry) I am not convinced that licensing could give much of an indication as to how, the circumstances leading up to, or a transport would be executed. It is a very interesting topic and too long to go over in a response post. Perhaps a future blog could look more deeply into the risks/benefits of all the available midwifery choices today and compare what some midwives (licensed, certified, direct entry and otherwise) offer to birthing families. I know a lot of misconceptions are out there on all dynamics oif midwives.

  4. Bubba says:

    Great article but it didn’t have eveytirhng—I didn’t find the kitchen sink!

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Being empowered can mean so many things.  What I do is to explore the myriad ways that men can effectively and positively be part of their children's lives.  From pregnancy to the birthing process and parenthood to finding a new identity as a father, being empowered during those processes means everything from having access to information (you've found a good place to start with this site) to having someone to coach you through all of it (you've also found me).  I'm here to help with all the stages and changes in becoming the best father and partner you can be. Ok, so I'm not helping with the conception part, but everything after that is fair game!  

While this site and my work does focus heavily on the roles of fathers, don't let that put you off.  Everyone is welcome here. A large part of what fathers can do is listen, and I hope that everyone interested in sharing their thoughts will feel they have a safe place to do so at Empowered Papa.  It's important that we listen to our partners, our children, professionals, experts, and everyone that has something positive to contribute.  It's important that we feel safe to ask questions. For all the fathers and fathers to be out there, our roles are always changing.  And here is where we can learn from each other as we enter the birth of the modern of the father.
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