The first step on your pregnancy journey is choosing a midwife to coordinate your maternity care. Your midwife is also known as your lead maternity carer (LMC).
When to register with a midwife
The best time to register with a midwife is in the first trimester of pregnancy (the first 12 weeks) or as early as possible. Register with a midwife as soon as you can, to make sure you are able to access early screening to assess your health, and for you to have early access to any services you may need to monitor you or your baby’s health.
Registering early is most important for women who have a current health condition or had complications in a previous pregnancy.
For women who live in rural areas there aren’t as many local midwives to choose from, which is another reason to look for a midwife as early as possible.
Finding a midwife
It’s important to find a midwife you are comfortable with. It’s a big decision for your birth journey because your midwife will be your key health professional throughout your pregnancy, labour, birth and during those early weeks of motherhood.
Visit the Find Your Midwife website for information about over 110 Waikato midwives. You can search for midwives in your area and read their profiles to help choose a midwife that feels like a good match for you. You might also like to ask friends and family for recommendations.
Some things to think about when choosing a midwife
The New Zealand College of Midwives has outlined what to look for in a midwife. Here are some other suggestions about things to think about or ask when choosing a midwife.
- If you have a particular birth centre in mind or would like to birth at Waikato Hospital, does the midwife have an access agreement with that facility? An access agreement means that the midwife can access that facility with you for labour, birth and postnatal care.
- Would you like to explore having a home birth? Does the midwife provide home birth care?
- Most women have contact and care with the same midwife throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, providing excellent continuity of care. Midwives also have holidays, family commitments and time away. You may want to ask:
- does the midwife have any planned time away near your due date
- who is their back up midwife
- can you meet or talk to the back up midwife
- how can you contact the back up midwife?
- Ask the midwife about antenatal visits and postnatal care, particularly home visits in the postnatal period if you live in a rural area.
- Some midwives hold certification to monitor and care for you in labour at Waikato Hospital if you need additional pain relief, such as an epidural. You may want to ask if the midwife has this certification. If they do, it means they can provide your care during labour and help you deliver your baby. If they do not, they may share your care with the hospital team, or transfer your care to the hospital team.
What midwives do
LMC midwives in New Zealand are contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide the following services.
- Explain their role as LMC midwife and the services you will receive.
- Give you the details of their back up midwife if they are not available for your antenatal care, labour, birth or postnatal care.
- Provide information, education and referrals for screening tests.
- Give you information about the availability of pregnancy and parenting education.
- Document a care plan to be used and updated throughout your pregnancy.
- Inform you about your options for the place of birth and place of postnatal stay after the birth.
- Monitor the progress of pregnancy for you and your baby, including early detection and management of any problems.
- Management of your birth and all maternity care until two hours after delivery.
- Provide postnatal care from birth to 28-42 days after the birth, including:
- a daily visit while you receive inpatient postnatal care, unless otherwise agreed by you and the maternity facility
- between 5-10 home visits, with a minimum of seven total visits (and more if clinically needed), including one home visit within 24 hours of discharge from a maternity facility.