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When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our first child, we were absolutely clueless about what the next nine months would be like. Neither of us knew anything about pregnancy so we turned to friends and family for advice. The general consensus was for us to hire a midwife, so we did.
Our ultimate goal was to have a healthy baby and for us. We believe that midwives are a more natural route than the OBGYN path. But before anyone dismisses midwives as hippy-dippy, it’s worth noting that most are medically-trained and receive credentials after passing rigorous exams through accredited programs such as the North American Registry of Midwives or the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Furthermore, many midwives practice in hospitals and are probably covered under your health insurance policy.
First consider these things if you are thinking of hiring a midwife.
Are you low risk?
Using a midwife to deliver a baby through a natural vaginal birth sounds fabulous (and it totally is). But, it is generally regarded as safe only for those who are considered to have low-risk pregnancies.
How do you feel about pain meds?
Most midwives will discourage the use of pain meds during birth and will coach you through methods to achieve a natural birth without harming you or your baby. That said, if you’ve got your heart set on an epidural cocktail, then a midwife may not be your best choice.
Are you planning a c-section?
If you’re planning a C-section then you could still use a midwife to guide you through your pregnancy, however, you’ll also be meeting with your surgeon throughout the tail end of your pregnancy to plan for a surgical birth. In many cases, OBGYN’s know and work closely with surgeons who perform C-sections and so it may be a better option to stick with your choice of an OBGYN.
You’ll probably get better post-natal care.
When you have an OBGYN, you’ll have a six-week check up to make sure everything is going ok with you and your baby. But for any woman who has ever had a baby knows, six weeks isn’t nearly enough time to fully heal, get to know this new human, not to mention sort out all the new emotions and concerns you’ll have. That’s where a midwife is nothing short of miraculous. They are more hands-on during the post-natal or fourth trimester and tend to be more holistic in their care, taking into account your mental and emotional well-being as well as nutritional and physical care.
The cost might be prohibitive.
Most insurance companies will cover or compensate for the cost of a midwife. So it is definitely worth asking about. But for those who don’t have health insurance or whose insurance doesn’t cover the cost, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. The average cost of a midwife varies state to state and also depends on if you’ll require lab testing or ultrasounds. Many people who hire a midwife can expect to shell out between $2,000 and $6,000, which sounds expensive but when compared to a low-risk hospital birth that costs an average of $13,000, a midwife seems more affordable. Most midwives will work out payment arrangements so ask about that too.
Having a midwife can be a truly beautiful and supportive experience that is worth looking into. If you dream about having a home birth or more a natural experience in a hospital setting, then it’s worth taking the time to interview a few midwives to see if that kind of experience is a good fit for you.