Picking a Midwife?

Updated on September 04, 2010
T.H. asks from Lake Oswego, OR
10 answers

Hi mamas!

How did you all go about picking your midwife? It seems like a ridiculous question but I'm suddenly realizing I haven't the faintest idea of what I should really be looking at. Also if you are from the Portland area and have one you loved can you pass along their information? I'm hoping to VBAC at home. :)

Thank you as always!

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answers from Grand Rapids on

My first suggestion would be to not do what I did and go w/ the first one you meet! Ugh, big mistake, especially w/ the end of preg. care...
Anyway, had have "shopped around' I would have found a better one that perhaps our insurance probably would have covered (the one I 'picked' didn't take insurance at all, but she was highly recommended by a friend of mine... should have shopped around)
Make sure you check references!
Check their certificates
How long have they been "in business"
How many times do they go to the hospital for various things (some are necessary things that a midwife is making a good decision, so look for that and also if she has made mistakes)
Um, check how close they live to you
How many pre-natal appointments do you get and what is included in them
What do you need to buy for the birth
Check what the post natal care is
How do they feel about shots and such,
Religious beliefs too (I did have a Christian midwife, one of her good points)
If I think of anything else I'll let ya know!
Congrats on the baby
And even though I wasn't entirely fond of my midwife, and I did end up at the hospital, I'd try to homebirth again if we were to have another (which we are not)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Hi T.,

I'm from Eugene. You can contact the Oregon Midwifery Association at www.oregonmidwifery.org for all kinds of information. Birthingway midwifery school is located in Portland, and the director, Holly Scholls, is very knowledgeable as well. She could certainly offer guidance.

After all is said and done, credentials are secondary to knowledge, experience, and how you personally feel in a midwife's presence. Riley in Seattle is in a state with different laws than Oregon. ALL licensed direct entry midwives in Oregon are able to go to a hospital if necessary with their clients and are very well trained in determining what goes beyond their scope of practice and needs a hospital. Many take insurance for home births as well. Holly and I were on the legislative committee to establish a voluntary home birth midwifery license in Oregon in 1993 that helped make that happen. Nurse midwives are also available, and work out of birthing centers. As far as I know, there are no longer any nurse midwives allowed to do home births in Oregon--certainly none in the Eugene area--because the hospitals and insurance companies behind the hospitals have made it nearly impossible. But the birthing centers can be a wonderful option if you have any reason to not be at home. Just make yourself aware of the differences in practice and requirements of a home birth midwife and a nurse midwife, and ultimately, like I said at the beginning, make sure you personally love your midwife! You are going to go through a very intense and intimate time with her, and must trust her completely.

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answers from Portland on

Hi T.,

Congratulations on your upcoming birth. I am a birth doula, and as such, have had experience with many midwives and doctors. I can tell you that if you want a VBAC at home, I would start by looking at Andaluz as they do homebirths as well as birthing center births. They have two locations, one in Tualatin and one in Portland. They are very empowering and believe in birth as a natural process.

I can also recommend a woman with her own birth center Vivante Midwifery and Women's Health. She is bar none, experienced, believes in birth as a natural process, and is empowering while not unrealisitc. She has a very down to earth presence about her. They are located at 2928 SE Hawthorn.

I have heard good things about Alma midwifery as well, though I have not worked with them personally.

I will tell you what I tell my VBAC cleints, educate and participate! It seems like you are already off to a good start on educating yourself as to how to select a midwife and asking for local references.

You might also try the VBAC.com and ICAN, for additional information.

Best of luck to you!

T. Nelson CD(DONA)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

For myself the 2 non-negotiable requirements were that my midwife be a certified nurse midwife, and have hospital privileges/ work closely with an OB team so that in case of emergency there would be flawless/continuous care. Most of the time one doesn't need a hospital, but when one does... one REALLY does.

I ended up being high risk for maternal/fetal death, so instead of birthing at home, I got to use my midwife team through the local hospital. Best of both worlds with my condition.

My midwife team worked out of a gynOB office, and strictly did hospital births, but they also worked closely with other nurse midwives who specialized in home births. When something (rarely) went wrong, the mum was brought to the hospital via ambulance with her midwife and spouse/partner and continued to receive care both from her original nurse midwife and the team of nurse midwives and OBs from my office.

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answers from Tampa on

I asked my doula. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Do you know anyone in your area who has used a midwife? I would ask around for recommendations. You could also ask your chiropractor if you have one. Do you want one who would support your faith values or who is similarly minded as you are in those areas? I would want to know transfer rate, do they have a doctor that they work with if needed, or a hospital that they have a good working relationship with just in case you do have to be transported. You never know what you might need, and the last thing you want is to arrive to a hospital and staff who are antagonistic towards you in an emergency situation. Also, in your situation, I would want to know if they have done many VBACs. I loved my homebirth! I hope you can find a great midwife!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi T.,

I did two things in my search for a midwife--asked women I felt were reliable sources (intelligent and grounded) and really looked at their websites critically to see what their attitudes toward birth were. It helps to read a practitioner's philosophical statements and see what their policies are on hospital transfers/exemptions are. Can the midwife stay with you if you need to transfer, and act as a doula? What other services do they offer?

I chose A Gentle Beginning (they're online) and birthed with Catherine Schaefer and Regina, who was in training at the time and just wonderful.I chose them in part because of a great recommendation from a mom who had all three of her children with this team, and because they have a respectful relationship with the Portland medical community, and I knew that, should I need a hospital transfer and want a doula, they would be able and willing to stay with me in that capacity. I also liked that they provided aftercare, and came to our home in the days that followed to check up on us a couple times. The team has changed a bit since I birthed, but the midwifes who attended my birth are still there.

One thing I do want to say, because I've heard of this happening on more than one occasion--if ever you don't feel comfortable with your midwife, if you feel like that person presented well early on and then seemed to not be a good fit, honor that. While pregnant, I was saddened to hear of a mother who was having a crisis at 34 weeks, feeling like she wanted to change midwives and very afraid of angering the midwife in question. That isn't a healthy situation. Later, a neighbor confided that this same midwife had some questionable behavior after a birth, when the baby wasn't breathing well--she just dumped them off at the hospital door and instructed the mother to change a few details about the birth in order to protect herself. These things do happen, so be very aware that if you have uncomfortable feelings, it's never too late to find another provider. It might be difficult, but when the health and safety of your child and yourself are of utmost consideration, and because we are so vulnerable as we birth, we must find people we trust implicitly.

Sorry this was so long. These were my considerations, and there are lots of great midwives out there. Happy birthing.:)



answers from Portland on

Hi T.,

I asked my chiropractor if she had a recommendation and then I did a consultation with that recommendation. We hit it off so extremely well that I made my decision right then and there. I HIGHLY recommend Dr Liz Collins at Natural Child Birth Clinic in SE Portland. Actually, I'd recommend Dr Jen Gibbons as well (she's my sister's doctor, in the same clinic). Maybe interview with each of them and see if one fits your personality better than the other.

And for the record, they're both Naturopath Midwives, so you can keep them as your pediatricians as well.



answers from Portland on

Hi T.,

I went with Andaluz. My first birth I did in the birth center as it was a normal low risk birth. My second time was twins which is considered high risk, so we did a homebirth. My criteria was personal and I found their free consultation was perfect for deciding if it was the place for me. They spent over an hour with me, showing me videos, giving me a tour, doing a prenatal exam so I woul dknow what it was like and allowed plenty of time for asking questions. They have a large team of midwives, so if personalities don't mesh, you can swithc or interview another midwife. They are very experienced with normal as well as high risk births like yours. They are more than happy to answer any questions that concern you and will even provide you with true examples and statistics.




answers from Portland on

I'd like to give another recommendation for Liz Collins ND. She is my current naturopathic midwife. She was referred to me by a mamasource question I had asked looking for a family doctor who would also do VBAC. Later I had a miscarriage, went to the hospital, was referred to an OBGYN for follow up, Dr. Dina Levin, who then recommended Dr Collins as well. It seems to me that Dr Levin serves as Dr Collins OB back-up for births that end up needing medical intervention. This is important to me because I am currently pregnant, hoping for a VBAC. Dr Collins can deliver in home or in their clinic but I don't know about hospital. Our insurance won't cover home birth - only clinic birth. I like her, my husband likes her and our daughter likes her too.
Good luck

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