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Interviewing a Homebirth Midwife (Finale)

This whole series has been filled with putting the bulk of the responsibility on the client with regards to choosing the most qualified midwife for her birth. As some have pointed out, this is quite the backwards way of choosing a provider. Usually, a provider has a certain level of education and skill before taking on clients (or patients), but the reality is non-nurse midwives in this country (Certified Midwives, notwithstanding) have an education that is all over the place. In every part of the country, and even within the same city, you can find women who’ve been to three births and read Spiritual Midwifery and then hung out their shingles right next door to Certified Nurse Midwives who have their Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and then advanced training in midwifery, all doing homebirth. Because of the haphazard reality of midwifery in the United States, it’s become imperative to figure out who the most competent midwife is, the one you are entrusting to save your life and that of your baby if every rare disaster comes to pass.

While many (most?) women wouldn’t have one clue what they were looking for if they went to a Skills Training, one thing all women can do to be sure the midwife they hire is absolutely sure of her skills is to insist she be recorded during the birth. If I were hiring a homebirth midwife today, I would require her to sign a release stating I was going to record the entire labor and birth and it would not be turned off in an emergency. As a midwife, I can tell you the prospect of being filmed during an emergency is scary as hell, but I know it will give the client the complete power over her own birth, ensuring the midwife she hires is totally sure of her skills and education… so sure she is willing to be forever captured digitally. the one that will sign a release allowing you to record the birth.

If all the midwives in the area get together and refuse this requirement, that gives you a lot of information right there, too. First, the midwives protect each other, even when trouble ensues. Second, that they don’t trust themselves to be recorded. And lastly, it isn’t all about the mom and baby; it’s all about the midwife. If this happens in your community, I would be very wary of a homebirth. In fact, if I knew I was a great homebirth candidate and found a wonderful midwife whose peers said all midwives needed to refuse to sign such a statement, I would record my birth anyway, with or without her signature. Hospitals are forbidding recording of births more and more and that irks me no end, enough that I’ve thought about hidden cameras.  I’m not attending births right now, but it’s definitely been a consideration. Isn’t it just sad we have to think of a lawsuit, far in advance of the possibility? Sad, but true.

So, that’s it for now. Know the answers you’re looking for, become as close to your own midwife as you can and make sure you have the most qualified midwife in your community (not the cheapest or even the most popular).

I look forward to hearing how these ideas work as women implement them (if they implement them).

Good luck to all you women hoping for a safe homebirth; I’m on your side.

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Reader Comments (7)

Interesting idea, Barbara. Oddly, I not only wouldn't mind being filmed, I would approve the idea, because having a filmed record could protect ME from frivolous lawsuits. Alas, I have had, both in hospital and out, more than my fair share of insane clients, I can tell you!

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAntigonos

"First, the midwives protect each other, even when trouble ensues."

This is sadly true more often than not. Here in Oregon, the midwifery council has vowed to stand with "sister midwives" who are investigated when a baby dies or a mom is hurt...who will stand with the wounded, grieving mother (not to mention the baby)? What happened to "with women"?

In our area, most hospitals, (even the ones I consider good ones,) will not allow patients to record THEIR births, and no pictures below the waist. The Midwife Center in Pittsburgh encourages it, (esp. if they can have a copy for training purposes!) Makes you think, huh?

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrowbabies

Its so interesting you say to record a birth. For school this semester I shadowed a homebirth CPM doing pp homevisits. One new mom had recorded her birth, and asked if I wanted to see it. Of course, I jumped at the chance! The CPM explained it was a 5 min shoulder dystocia of a 9 lb 5 oz baby girl. The CPM even watched it with me (until the end of the SD, when the CPM became a little upset remembering the emotions she was experiencing at the time--I don't think she processed it entirely by then) and explained what was happening. She was so calm in the video, I was amazed. She just did things on autopilot, it seemed. Quite a few of my friends have used her as their CPM, and I was impressed with the way she handled herself in the video. I was also impressed with the way she handled the mom's UTI at the pp visit. After meeting with her, I would feel more comfortable about a homebirth with a CPM like her.

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen B

I have heard numerous times and also told others to request birth videos of a midwife with whom you are interviewing so you can see what they are like at a birth BEFORE you get to your birth! Those videos tell so much than answering questions can!

November 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterconcerned mom

Love this idea! It makes so much sense really. I know that it is scary for a practicing midwife to consider if something goes wrong that a lawsuit is bound to happen - but like one reader said - the video is what can PROTECT the midwife too. A video will change the outcome of what has passed but it can be used as a tool for learning for future situations and probably is never a bad idea in the reality of things.

November 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoann Woolley

I would love to hear your ideas for setting up hidden cameras. If i have another baby, that's what i'd be doing because the hospital here doesn't "allow" any filming before baby is born.

November 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermrsculpepper

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