During pregnancy we are so lucky in this country to have free healthcare and support through our NHS system. Although, as I am sure you are aware, there is a time limit to antenatal checks and strain on our healthcare system over all. Many women who want extra support and guidance through this special, but sometimes worrying, time are now looking into private options. These options could be from someone like me, a hypnobirthing teacher, a doula (more info on that here) or even a private midwife. I interviewed midwife Clair Alexandra MacVean about the benefits of using a private midwife, and how this works with NHS care.
Interview with Clair Alexandra MacVean, a private midwife
What is the main difference between an NHS midwife and a private midwife? Are you trained differently?
All midwives have completed training which is usually 50% theory at a university and 50% practice within an NHS hospital. All midwives study to degree level. Some midwives who trained years ago might not hold that level of academic qualification. The only difference between an NHS midwife and an independent midwife is that an NHS midwife is employed by and works within the NHS. Whereas an independent midwife is self employed and provides care that is paid for directly by the client.
Apart from continuity of care, what are the other reasons for someone to book a private midwife?
There are so many reasons that a client will consider an independent midwife. An independent midwife will usually provide more visits throughout the duration of the pregnancy. I usually see my clients around 15 times. The visits are held in the comfort and convenience of their own homes and at a time to suit them. This can include evenings and weekends. So for those with a busy schedule it is perfect and the care can be tailored to their needs. The visits are between one to two hours long. Meaning that they have all the time they need to ask questions and discuss anything that they need to.
But in my opinion, the main reason for choosing private care, is the level of support that they are provided with. As well as increased amount of check ups, and longer time spent with them, a private midwife will also provide support on the phone or via email or message on a daily basis. Meaning the client never feels alone or uncertain or unsupported.
If you’re supporting someone during labour, do they still get an NHS midwife? How does that work?
Many independent midwives provide the full spectrum of antenatal care, labour care, and postnatal care. However some, like me, only provide antenatal and postnatal care so clients choose to engage with the NHS for their labour care, whether at home or in the hospital. If a client is entitled to NHS care, then they can choose to take up any part of it that they wish and decline the parts of it that they don’t. So some of my clients will see their NHS midwife at the expected times throughout their pregnancy, and attend all scans and blood tests. While other clients will choose not to have these appointments and just to see myself.
Like any other caregiver, I keep detailed documentation of all care provided. This is available for my clients to show to their labour care providers. I am also able to realise with all of the local NHS Trust to share information and to ensure that the client receives the best possible care.
What do you offer as post-natal care? Beyond checking the growth and development of a baby.
Postnatal care can be as varied and as in-depth as the client requires. For a lot of clients that focuses on the early days of breastfeeding and getting to know the new tiny person in their life! For other women however, this extends for anything up to 12 weeks and sometimes beyond. I give advice and practical help and support, almost like a parenting coach!
We live in a society in which beyond the standard two weeks paternity leave, women are often left on their own to figure out how to look after a baby. Do you think more post-natal checks, from an independent midwife or otherwise, would help reduce post natal depression?
I feel strongly that support is really the name of the game here! Very often nowadays we don’t live within a supportive community. We are isolated from our families and from our places of birth. Very often a woman will have little to no infrastructure close to home and outside of work.
The early days of parenting can be so lonely. Especially as you say, when partner returns to work after only a couple of weeks. The support I provide my clients extends beyond basic postnatal midwifery checks. They will have time to discuss how they are feeling and coping with their new baby. They can ask for advice, and troubleshoot any issues they are having. My clients know that I am always available to them, and that no question is too trivial to ask. I will often suggest other local groups or services so that by the time our sessions are coming to a close, they have more support in place and things to look forward to.
There are so many reason to consider an independent midwife. If you want to book an independent midwife you can search the private midwives directory to find someone local. If you would like to chat to Clair about her services you can find her over at In the Club Midwifery or give her a follow on instagram