Life as an independent midwife
Going it alone as a midwife is rewarding, but at a time of austerity it can be hard to make a living
Going it alone as a midwife is rewarding, but at a time of austerity it can be hard to make a living.
For midwives who want to offer greater continuity in the care they provide, one option is to become an independent midwife. Being able to support a woman throughout pregnancy and birth is the main reason they choose to join this small band of professionals, believed to number fewer than 200 in the UK.
Jacqui Tomkins, chair of Independent Midwives UK (IMUK) and partner at the London Birth Practice, left the NHS 15 years ago because she found that she was not able to offer the kind of care she wanted to. ‘Continuity of care is important to me,’ says Ms Tomkins, who works with four other midwives at her practice. ‘I want to know the women I look after, build a relationship and see them through the entire pregnancy, birth and up to six weeks after. It’s like becoming a part of their family.’
Most independent midwives are self-employed, although some are employed by private companies and others have set up social enterprises. Some work for the NHS part-time and independently the rest of the time.
Independent midwives are paid directly by the women they care for and are generally chosen by those who want home births. Women may also be drawn to their service for specialist skills, such as vaginal breech birth and twins. However, Ms Tomkins says, independent midwives can also support women who want to give birth in hospital and offer support during labour, although they cannot be the named midwife in charge of the birth.
This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 30, issue 26