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Independent midwives

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Independent Midwives – What Are They?

Once your pregnancy has been confirmed by your Doctor you will normally then be put in contact with an NHS midwife, who acts as part of a team of midwives responsible for your care throughout your pregnancy and birth, and in the early weeks of your baby’s life.  You will typically have contact with a number of different midwives throughout your care.

Some parents feel that they would prefer more consistency in the personal relationship with their midwife.  This is often where Independent Midwives come in.

Independent Midwives are self-employed.  They are fully qualified and regulated, but have simply chosen to work outside of the NHS.  They are normally employed privately by parents, but are sometimes engaged by the NHS in cases where continuity of care is deemed to be the best solution, or perhaps to cover shortfalls in NHS staffing for home births.

Promoting choice for mothers-to-be, Independent Midwives are often employed by women who have special concerns, or are deemed high-risk and as a result have been refused home or natural births on the NHS.  Women carrying twins, breech babies, or those who have had previous caesareans, or a poor NHS experience are common clients of Independent Midwives.

independent midwives

How do they Work?

An Independent Midwife will provide the same level  of basic care and expertise as an NHS midwife, and will undertake all the same responsibilities.  They are your single point of contact for the duration.  This can enhance your experience, as the level of trust and understanding between parents and the Independent Midwife has a greater opportunity to develop.

An Independent Midwife can be engaged at any point during pregnancy, but from 12 weeks is common.  Services vary, but monthly meetings at your home in the early stages are usual, increasing to fortnightly and then even more regular contacts as the birth date approaches.  Most Independent Midwives are available for email/telephone contact 24/7.

The Independent Midwife will be with you throughout the birth, and even if you are hospitalised they can normally remain at your side – some may still actively deliver your baby in an NHS environment, or be present in theatre if you need a caesarean.

Although still regulated and assessed annually by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Independent Midwives tend to have greater freedom to offer individualised care.  NHS midwives are often constrained by budgets, and internal NHS Trust protocols.  Independent Midwives are often engaged where the parents want a home birth.

Essentially a private service, Independent Midwives are paid directly by you, and most will accept instalments.  Engaging an Independent Midwife does not in any way preclude you from NHS care, and any specialist care or emergency input will still be available to you from the NHS.  Independent Midwives can refer you to a consultant, or request hospitalisation in exactly the same way as their NHS counterparts.

Some Pros and Cons

You will have one point of contact for your pregnancy and birth.
Greater choice in terms of birth plan may be open to you.
You receive more time and dedicated attention in addition to the standard blood tests and scans, giving more chance to discuss birth options and any concerns
you have generally.
Cost – if you opt for an Independent Midwife expect to pay 2-5k for their services  Insurance.
Independent Midwives cannot legally secure Professional Indemnity Insurance, so you will be unlikely to receive compensation in the event anything  goes wrong and negligence is proven.
Potential lack of familiarity with the NHS team should hospitalisation

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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