If you decide to have a midwife deliver your baby, you'll want to check her credentials. You can learn if she's certified by calling the ACNM and you can check her licensing status (in states that require licensing) by contacting your state board of nursing or board of medicine. Stein recommends that you ask about a midwife's level of experience and find out who her physician backup is. It's important to meet that doctor ahead of time and to know how long it would take for you to be transferred to the hospital if you're delivering in a birthing center. You may also want to ask if a pediatrician and anesthesiologist will be on call and how quickly they could be at the hospital. Finally, women considering this option should look into their insurance coverage: Some midwives report a lower rate of reimbursement than doctors receive, leaving you to foot the bill or battle your insurance company.
Midwife-assisted deliveries aren't for everyone. "It's a great option for someone seeking a natural delivery," says Jacques Moritz, M.D., director of gynecology and The Birthing Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, in New York City. "But you should make sure you don't have any medical risk factors, like diabetes or high blood pressure, before choosing a midwife over an obstetrician." For more information about certified nurse-midwives, call the ACNM at 202-728-9860 or visit its website, www.midwife.org.