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Should You Use a Midwife?

How much do midwives cost?

The price of midwifery care varies widely, depending on where your baby is born. Your insurance company may narrow your choices by covering only certain options.

  • HOME BIRTHS Direct-entry midwives preside over the majority of home births, though some CNMs will agree to do so as well. Home birthers used to have to pay for everything themselves, but some insurers, attracted to the low cost -- usually about $2,000, versus upwards of $8,000 for an uncomplicated hospital delivery -- are now helping out.
  • BIRTH CENTERS These homey environments are staffed by CNMs, with one or more obstetricians who provide consultation and emergency backup. The cost for prenatal care and delivery is about $3,500. Some insurance companies offer the same coverage for birth-center deliveries as they do for hospital births; others pay only a percentage of that.
  • HOSPITALS Women who opt for a hospital delivery usually work with a CNM who's part of an obstetrical practice, in which case the cost is the same as the standard obstetrician's fee. Most insurers cover 80 percent of the bill.

How to find a midwife

  • American College of Nurse-Midwives operates a toll-free hotline (888/MIDWIFE) that lists CNMs in your area. For general information, call 202/728-9860; write to 818 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20006; or check out the group's website at www.midwife.org.
  • Maternity Center Association publishes a booklet, Journey to Parenthood ($6), with information on choosing a maternity-care provider. Call 212/777-5000 or Write to 281 Park Ave. South, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10010. Visit the MCA website at www.maternity.org.
  • Midwives Alliance of North America can refer you to direct-entry midwives and CNMs in your area. Call 888/923-6262 or Visit their website at www.mana.org.
  • National Association of Childbearing Centers can provide a list of birth centers in your area, as well as information on how to select a birth center. Send a $1 donation to 3123 Gottschall Rd., Perkiomenville, PA 18074.

Amy Cunningham is a writer living in Washington, DC.

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