An independent, or ‘private’, midwife is a fully qualified midwife who has chosen to work outside the NHS in a self-employed capacity to provide pregnancy care. They can offer care either at home, in private birth centres or in a hospital setting. Although, the majority of births attended by independent midwives are home births.
The legal role of a midwife encompasses the care of women and babies during pregnancy, birth (including home births) as well as those early weeks of motherhood. Usually one private midwife gives care to a woman and her family throughout a pregnancy. Employing the services of an independent midwife does not in any way mean you have to forego NHS privileges or any extra care you may require as things develop.
An independent midwife can be booked at any point during your pregnancy, up to 7 days before your estimated due date. Having the same midwife with you consistently throughout your pregnancy can help build a close and trusting relationship much like community midwives of old – through the continuity of care and appointment / visits scheduled at your convenience. Therefore, evening and weekend visits can often mean that your partner can be more involved.
Our Guide on How to Choose an Independent Midwife:
1) Check first with the Nursing and Midwifery Council
Every practising independent midwife must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. If they’re not registered, they shouldn’t be working as a midwife. Furthermore, independent midwives are subject to the same regulations as NHS midwives.
They undergo regular checks, are fully qualified by law and are required to keep all their knowledge and training up to date. Actually, many independent midwives undergo extra training (for example in complementary therapies) in order to provide a full spectrum of pre, ante and post natal support that modern woman seek today.
> For up-to-date information and finding a trusted midwife visit the Nursery & Midwifery Council website.
2) Meet the Midwives
Once you’ve done some research and found a midwife who looks like she could be for you, get in touch and arrange to meet and interview her/him. Your relationship with your midwife is all personal, intimate and based on trust. So do prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask her/him – this will make sure you get exactly what you want from your midwife.
They understand you will have lots of questions – especially if it’s your first pregnancy. Private midwives should make sure you get all your questions answered before and after the birth of your child. And, remember this is your birth and if you don’t get on or feel a connection once you’ve met or if you’re not sure she’s the right midwife for you, don’t be afraid to say so – there are plenty of other independent midwives out there. You can also ask any midwives you talk to for referees.
Ask friends and colleagues, as with most tings if you have any friends who have used an independent midwife, ask for their recommendations as the power of word-of-mouth can be reassuring. Plus, they will have first-hand experience.
> For information on finding the right private midwife for you, we recommend Private Midwives
3) Consider the Costs
Some private midwives will give free consultations to women who are considering all birthing options open to them. However, independent midwives do charge for their services and the amount will depend on where you live and the type of service they are providing to you. You can also book their care for the postnatal period too.
You can choose from as little or as much support as you need, from a single appointment to an all inclusive package. Prices package of care throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period can cost anywhere between £2000 and £6500.
4) Sign a Disclaimer
Independent midwives aren’t insured so she will ask you to sign a disclaimer. If she doesn’t ask you to do this, question it. There is no financial recompense through an insurance company if you or you baby suffer due to any midwife’s negligence, this means the independent midwife is liable for any payout to the mum, which is therefore unlikely to be a large amount.