Getting the best out of your midwife can transform your experience of pregnancy. A few simple tricks and you’ll be singing
From the first booking-in appointment to helping you feel settled as a new mum, your midwife plays a vital role in your pregnancy journey. It’s crucial you get on, and there’s plenty you can do to strengthen your bond and tap into her expert know-how.
Trust your instincts
When you first meet your midwife, follow your gut reaction as to how you warm to her. ‘It’s always important to follow your inner voice, because it’s your best warning system,’ says consultant clinical psychologist Anu Sayal-Bennet.
In the event you don’t get on with the NHS midwife taking charge of your care, you are entitled to ask for someone else. Chat to the head of midwifery and let her know your personalities don’t gel.
Get a health overhaul
Make the most of the fact that your midwife will give you a very thorough once-over when you meet her. As well as monitoring how your pregnancy is going, midwives are equipped to help you kick-start a healthier lifestyle.
‘We are well trained in helping you quit smoking, as well as improving your diet and exercise regime,’ says independent midwife Joy Horner. This could be the ‘new you’ opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
Do your own research
Midwives can have differing opinions and approaches to certain aspects of birth, and these may not match your own ideals. It’s always a good idea to read pregnancy books, magazines and visit parenting websites to get a wider overview. Just because she isn’t a fan of home birth, for example, doesn’t mean it’s not right for you.
And remember, when it comes to giving birth, you don’t need to ask her what you could have. You can tell her what you want – albeit nicely – as long as it’s safe for you.
The majority of NHS hospitals now operate with teams, which means you’ll see a number of midwives throughout your pregnancy. While you may think you’d prefer one-on-one care, there are benefits to this arrangement. For instance, you’ll come into contact with a wider range of expertise and, if one midwife misses something, another will pick up on it.
Don’t be shy
From the mystery of your estimated due date to the fact you don’t know exactly what dilation means, most first-time mums feel a bit bewildered. Similarly, many woman have something they’re anxious about, but may be too embarrassed to ask. Don’t worry, your midwife has heard it all before.
‘We’re never going to laugh or think you’re being silly,’ says Joy. ‘We are here to ease your concerns, so get it all out.’
Discover their talents
Some midwives have extra skills or training in alternative therapies that can be useful during birth.
‘Check with your midwife to see if she has knowledge of aromatherapy, hypnobirthing or homeopathy,’ says midwife Sarah Noble, an expert in complementary therapies.
‘I regularly use aromatherapy oils during labour to aid relaxation alongside my traditional midwifery training. Even if your midwife can’t help, she may be able to refer you to a reputable practitioner.’
Introduce your partner
Your birth partner acts as your advocate when it comes to decisions taken during the birth.
‘Not only will he need to understand your birth plan, he’ll also need to be able to communicate it to the birthing team,’ says Sarah. This is why it’s a good idea to take your partner along to meet your midwife during antenatal check-ups. ‘They’ll be able to chat, allowing your midwife to gauge the role your partner can take on during the birth,’ says Sarah.