Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an Independent Midwife?

The term midwife means ‘with woman’. Independent Midwives act as partners to women throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and the early postnatal period, providing individualised education, advice and support. Midwives advocate measures throughout pregnancy and labour which promote natural birth, and are experienced in caring for mother and baby under normal birth conditions. They are also trained to recognise and assist with scenarios that are out of the norm. This includes detection of complications for the mother or baby, requesting medical opinions and carrying out emergency measures if necessary.

Midwives aim for only necessary intervention in the birth process. Midwives can work in a complementary relationship with obstetricians, who are specialists in complicated pregnancy and birth, and in surgery. Midwives can refer women to obstetricians or other appropriate medical practitioners when the client requires care that falls out of the midwives’ scope of practice. Their role extends to caring for the newborn and mother.

  • How do I choose a Midwife?

The midwife will explain how she works and what she expects from her clients and the clients have the opportunity to discuss their needs, concerns and expectations for the birth of their baby with the midwife. The midwife will explain her model of care, which doctors she works with, whether or not she works with a doula and if so any particular doula. The contract between midwife and her client is explained as well as the need for medical aid cover especially for the baby at the time of birth are usually discussed at this meeting. The couple has the opportunity to go away and to discuss their plans with their medical aid and to then let the midwife know if they would like to continue with her program. Each midwife has her own care program. At the first booking appointment a detailed history is taken.

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. Independent midwives may offer home birth, birth in a midwife-led clinic or birth in an obstetric unit and these options will be discussed individually with the clients they provide.

  • I’m pregnant, now what?

The term midwife means ‘with woman’. Independent Midwives act as partners to women throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and the early postnatal period, providing individualised education, advice and support. Midwives advocate measures throughout pregnancy and labour which promote natural birth, and are experienced in caring for mother and baby under normal birth conditions. They are also trained to recognise and assist with scenarios that are out of the norm. This includes detection of complications for the mother or baby, requesting medical opinions and carrying out emergency measures if necessary.

Midwives aim for only necessary intervention in the birth process. Midwives can work in a complementary relationship with obstetricians, who are specialists in complicated pregnancy and birth, and in surgery. Midwives can refer women to obstetricians or other appropriate medical practitioners when the client requires care that falls out of the midwives’ scope of practice. Their role extends to caring for the newborn and assisting with breastfeeding. Research shows that continuity of midwifery care from early pregnancy to around 6 weeks after birth improves short and long term mental and physical health outcomes for mothers and babies.

  • How does an Independent Midwives work?

An Independent Midwife can work as your primary carer or alongside other caregivers you have chosen to support you. The different combinations of caregivers are called ‘models of care.’ The World Health Organisation states that midwives are the most appropriate primary carer for women with a normal pregnancy and birth (WHO, 1996).

Furthermore, it is well documented in the literature that midwives improve the short and long term mental and physical health outcomes of the mother and baby both in normal pregnancy and birth, and in collaboration with medical assistance in situations where complications arise.

  • Do I need a referral from a doctor?

No referral is required.

  • What is the working relationship between an Independent Midwife and a Gynaecologist/ Obstetrician?

Independent Midwives consult with family doctors, obstetricians, pediatricians and other specialists as the need arises. A transfer of care could arise under urgent scenarios. Unless a complication arises early in pregnancy midwives often remain involved in a supportive role, with care sometimes transferred back to the midwife once the complication has subsided. In these cases midwives nearly always remain involved in the care provided.

  • Will I have the same access to tests that I had with a Gynaecologist/ Obstetrician?

Yes, Independent Midwives offer a complete panel of antenatal laboratory tests, screening and diagnosis options, referrals for ultrasound imaging and many other tests and procedures for clients and newborns. A midwife’s scope of practice includes the use of many medications that may be indicated in pregnancy, during labour, including emergency situations or pain medication and following birth. If medication or testing is required outside of this scope of practice, midwives consult with and refer to doctors as indicated for more specialized care.

  • Can I choose where I give birth?

Yes, midwives offer the choice of birthplace to healthy, low-risk clients based on the principles of informed decision making.

  • What pain medication options are available?

Midwives offer a range of natural and pharmaceutical pain relief options. It is paramount in midwifery care that clients have access to the information necessary to make informed decisions about the use of pain relief options. These options are discussed during antenatal visits as well as during antenatal classes.

  • What if I need a Caesarean Section?

Midwives statistically have a lower caesarean section rate. However, in certain circumstances a caesarean birth may be recommended as a safer option than a vaginal birth. In most situations midwives are involved in the decision making process, and will usually be present during a caesarean birth and for healthy baby care afterwards.

  • Can I have a VBAC? Vaginal Birth After Caesarean Section?

There are additional factors to be carefully considered when planning a VBAC after a previous caesarean. Understanding the safety, birthing advantages and risks will help you to make your decision. You need to be assessed if you are a suitable candidate and you must discuss this with an Independent Midwife that provides VBAC’s as part of her practice.

  • Who can have a home birth?

Home is a suitable and safe place to give birth for healthy women of any age, that are experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy and are expecting a healthy baby. Home births are not recommended for women with a higher risk of complications. You will need to have a conversation about this with your midwife.

  • How many clients do you accept per month?

This varies from each Independent Midwife’s Practice, and you will need to enquire with the midwife of your choice.

  • Can I book in late in my pregnancy?

Yes, some midwives do accept later bookings providing you had regular pregnancy care and you are otherwise a suitable candidate with a history of a low risk pregnancy. You will need to enquire with the midwife of your choice.

  • What if I want to transfer my care from my present Gynaecologist to an Independent Midwife?

Your midwife will request all your medical records, such as blood test, scans etc that you have had so she can assess them and you can start your antenatal care as soon as possible.

  • What if I have another question not answered here?

We welcome your questions and will be happy to address them with you. It is best to contact the midwife of your choice and enquire about any concerns you may have.