How to Choose a Midwife

Once you have decided to select a midwife to consult during pregnancy and to deliver your baby, you must work to choose the best one for you. Many women choose midwives because of their increased focus on the individual during pregnancy with the minimum amount of medical intervention. Typically, midwives offer a personal, holistic approach to pregnancy and childbirth that some women feel many obstetricians and hospitals lack. When considering your options, keep in mind that there are different types of midwives with different sets of expertise. Just as with physicians, midwives have differing personalities and ideas about the appropriate relationship between patient and professional, and some will seem like a better fit than others for monitoring your pregnancy and delivering your baby. Choosing a midwife carefully can have a major impact on the satisfaction and safety of your pregnancy and delivery, so it is important to take the time to select the best match for you.


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    Decide whether you want a nurse midwife, a licensed midwife, or a lay midwife.
    • Most countries have different levels of midwifery practice that entail different levels of medical expertise. In the United States, for instance, women can choose from Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives, Certified Midwives, Direct-Entry Midwives, and Lay Midwives, each requiring a different level of education or training.
    • Midwives with training as nurses or other medical professionals often maintain a certification granted by a national medical or professional board, while other registered midwives may not have general medical experience but should have extensive midwifery training. Lay midwives in most countries have learned by experience or apprenticeship, but are not necessarily licensed or certified.
    • Women expecting a high-risk pregnancy may wish to opt for a midwife with medical training and a license or certification or ready access to medical facilities. If a difficult pregnancy is not anticipated, an experienced lay midwife may meet your needs just as well as a licensed midwife could.
    • Educate yourself about your area’s options and consider what type of midwife will satisfy your needs.
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    Locate and search your local directory of registered midwives.
    • Take recommendations from friends and family into account but do not limit yourself to choosing someone simply because someone else thought that person was a good midwife.
    • Keep in mind your preferences for the involvement of a hospital or medical center; some midwives only deliver in medical facilities, while others only deliver at the client’s home, and this may be noted in the directory.
    • Most localities offer an online guide to area midwives who have registered in their directory. In some cases, regional websites that take an interest in the subject or the local telephone book may list midwives not on the official registry.
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    Make a list of candidates and call to request their availability for new patients.
    • Your first choice may not always be available, so keep an open mind and be willing to work with other midwives if your desired midwife is too busy or is temporarily not available.
    • The more midwives you initially call, the better your chances of finding the perfect fit–just be sure to let the midwife know that you are just checking availability and not necessarily contracting his or her services at this time.
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    Schedule a phone call or a quick meeting with the available midwives remaining on the list. You can meet at your home, a café, their office, or your own place of business to discuss a possible relationship with each of them. Let them know you are trying to find the right person and that you have a few questions to ask them before you choose a midwife.
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    Ask a lot of questions according to your preferences and individual needs. Examples of questions include:
    • What type of experience and training do you have?
    • What type of relationship do you like to have with your patients?
    • What is your availability for questions and emergencies?
    • Will you be able to deliver the baby at home/in the hospital/at a birthing center?
    • Do you have experience with vaginal deliveries for women with prior C-sections?
    • Do you have experience managing pregnancies of twins or pregnancies with high-risk health conditions?
    • What options are available to me if something goes wrong during the pregnancy or delivery that is beyond your expertise?
    • Do you have references you can provide from other women you have assisted?
    • What are the costs associated with each visit and with the delivery, and what services do you offer?
    • Do you accept health insurance?
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    Select a midwife based on your own criteria and comfort level. A midwife may come with numerous recommendations and credentials, but if you do not feel comfortable with him or her, your pregnancy may be more stressful than if you trust and get along with your midwife.
    • Weigh the midwife's expertise and reputation against the expectations you have of receiving high-quality, attentive care and genuine support after meeting him or her.
    • If you select a midwife and later discover that he or she is not a good match, do not feel obligated to continue with that midwife; you may switch midwives for any reason, and it can be harmful to remain in a relationship that makes you uncomfortable or leaves you disappointed.
    • The midwife you ultimately select should be friendly, experienced, caring, and eager to set you at ease throughout the entire experience.


  • Many health insurance companies will cover midwife services if the midwife has a certification or medical training. Lay midwives often do not qualify for payment by insurance agencies.
  • Midwives work hard to offer more personalized care and a positive pregnancy and childbirth experience for their clients, which can mean less extensive medical monitoring; be sure that you are comfortable with a less medical approach to pregnancy than would be offered by an obstetrician before choosing a midwife.
  • Midwives who operate in cooperation with licensed birthing facilities or local hospitals allow for ease of access to advanced medical care when necessary and may offer the desired patient-midwife relationship with the additional immediate availability of expert medical assistance in case of emergencies.
  • For low-risk pregnancies, midwives may be less expensive than obstetricians. For high-risk pregnancies, the increased chance of using emergency medical services or having a hospital stay means you may end up paying for the services of an obstetrician in addition to your midwife.


  • Beware of midwives with extreme distrust of modern medicine, particularly if your pregnancy is high-risk. If there is an emergency, you do not want appropriate–and potentially life saving–care delayed or dismissed because of a midwife’s personal dislike of hospitals or physicians. Most midwives know when a situation is beyond their expertise and will act accordingly for the health of their patient, but be sure your midwife is willing to do so without hesitation should the occasion arise.

Things You'll Need

  • Online or print directory of local midwives.
  • List of interview questions.

Article Info

Categories: Pregnancy