By Hannah Schenker
Congratulations! You will likely have peed on a stick and confirmed with a blood test that you are now growing a tiny human! Perhaps you’re far enough along to have even seen your baby’s heartbeat on a scan. Your doctor may have already suggested you start looking for a midwife. Even though it’s still early days, you should start looking for the right person and get that care underway. But how do you go about finding your midwife?
Here in New Zealand, your Lead Maternity Carer is the special person who gets to look after you right throughout pregnancy and support you through birth and beyond until baby is six weeks. Most women choose a midwife, but you could also choose a specialist doctor trained in maternity care. Maternity services in NZ are free, unless you’ve chosen private specialist care. To read more about your eligibility, click HERE.
Choosing your LMC as early as possible is a good idea, so that they can start caring for you ASAP but also because they do get booked by other families. You want to choose someone you are really comfortable with, who knows what your birth plans are and is fully able to support them (whether that’s home birth, water birth, birthing in a hospital or other birthing facility).
Because you want someone who is experienced in the kind of birth you would like, it’s good to think about that before you start considering midwives. If you would like a home birth, it’s best to look for a home birth midwife with the relevant experience and skills rather than a general midwife who offers home birth as an option, if that’s a possibility. In small towns like where I live, the choices are actually really limited. In my experience, while there may not be many midwives to choose from, the ones that are available have a huge wealth of experience in different kinds of births and of course are supportive of how and where you would like to birth.
A good way to start is to ask around your own circle of friends or family who have recently had a baby, and ask for their trusted opinions. You can also look up your area on the Find Your Midwife website, or other current database of midwives around New Zealand. You can also ask through your GP or nurse.
Once you have a list that you think might be suitable, you can start interviewing them. It’s really important to find the person you feel most comfortable with, who is available in the way you need them to be, who can support you in your birth wishes.
What will my LMC do?
Your LMC will be available to you 24/7, giving you care and information right throughout your pregnancy and until bub is six weeks old. During pregnancy, they will check baby’s growth, position and heartbeat, offer screening tests and scans to check that you and baby are doing well (and if you decide to take these tests, they will arrange them and follow up with results), and they will make clear to you how often you should be seen. They may be able to visit you at home, or at an agreed location.
According to the Ministry of Health, you should expect your midwife or specialist doctor to:
- Create a plan with you for your care, including your labour and birth
- Discuss how you can stay healthy throughout the pregnancy
- Be with you during your labour and birth (or, in the case of a doctor, arrange for midwifery care during labour)
- Refer you or your baby to specialist support if needed
- Visit you (or arrange for you to be visited) at the hospital and in your home at least seven times after your baby is born
- Refer you to your chosen Well Child Tamariki Ora provider after the birth of your baby
- Help you to enrol your baby at a general practice for doctor and practice nurse services.