Last week we discussed hiring a Doula, a professional birth partner. They offer a great service which may increase your chances of birthing in a straightforward way. But did you know that you can also hire a Midwife? Private or Independent Midwives will have trained with and worked within the NHS; those who decide to then work as private or Independent Midwives, often do so, so that they can go back to 'caseloading' Midwifery. This is where they have a small group of women who they care for from early pregnancy through to birth. Many Midwives prefer this way of working as they develop close relationships with the women they care for. The depth of trust makes it much more satisfying for both mother and midwife. Unfortunately it can be very hard to do this within the NHS and many women find they don't see the same Midwife twice.
Hiring a Midwife means that you have 2 midwives (a main one and a back up one) who are on call for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They visit many more times through the pregnancy, at home at a time of your choice; and spend quite a long time with you at appointments. They can help you to birth at home or come into hospital with you as a professional birth partner. Postnatal care on the NHS will last for 10 days with Midwives (unless longer is required) and then Health Visitors will take over. Private Midwives offer 6 weeks of postnatal care with as many visits as you need. They really do become part of the family!
Why doesn't everyone do this? Partly because many people are not aware that the service exists, and also because of the cost. It can cost £3,000 - £6,000 and maybe more. It is possible to pay in instalments and there is an access fund to help people on lower incomes afford the service. You can also pay less by just paying for antenatal or postnatal care and not both.
Are there any advantages beyond the amazing level of care? Well, again, having the same midwife with you is known to lower the chances of complications and increase the chances of a straightforward birth. Independent Midwives are not bound by hospital protocol and, so, can make decisions with you that are unique for you and your baby. They will be very familiar with unusual requests, like placenta encapsulation; home made cord ties and declining vaginal examination; it can be a relief for some women to meet a Midwife who is very comfortable with these things. They may have additional skills too, such as experience of breech, vaginal birth.
Have a look at the UK website for Independent Midwives if you're interested to know more: https://imuk.org.uk/