An independent midwife is a medically trained professional specialising in normal pregnancy, childbirth and care up to six week after the birth of a baby. In South Africa all independent midwives have a nursing background and have gone on to further their studies to include midwifery. The independent midwife has worked already in government, and /or private hospital settings and has made the decision to leave the restrictions of hospital birth and to improve maternity services in her own way. Midwifery is regulated and supported by the SANC the South African Nursing council and is a specialised form of nursing which may be independently practiced, meaning that the midwife is responsible for her own practice and her business.
Some independent midwives have a restricted practice meaning that they take a small number of clients in order to spend more time with each one preparing the entire family for the life-changing event which lies before them. These midwives will charge a higher fee for this type of care. Other independent midwives will choose to take more clients and spend less time with them, she may not offer antenatal classes or as many postnatal follow-up visits, but she will charge less. And so it is important that each family consider what they might be looking for in a midwife and shop accordingly.
The independent midwife will help to explain the need for medical aid cover for the baby at birth and will help her clients to manage invoices for their medical aid. Many Medical aid schemes have recommended to independent midwives that they have a contract with each client to avoid double billing the medical aid for services which have been supplied by the hospital at a separate time. Independent midwives may offer Home birth, birth in a midwife lead unit or birth in an obstetric unit and these options will be discussed individually with the clients.
The independent midwife sees pregnancy and birth as physiological expressions of the chapters in a woman’s life, she is an educator as well as a care provider. The independent midwife will give guidance and information regarding health and wellness from the time of pre-conception until the end of the six-week postnatal period.