Some women choose to hire private, or 'independent' midwives for their antenatal care and the birth of their baby. These are fully qualified, self-employed midwives, working outside of the NHS. For many women, the appeal of an independent midwife is the continuation of care by the same person throughout pregnancy, particularly if they have chosen to have a home birth.
At a glance
- Independent midwives are fully qualified, self-employed midwives, working outside of the NHS
- You can still have all your antenatal screenings carried out by your local NHS midwifery services
- If you need to go into hospital, your independent midwife would be able to stay with you
How much does one cost?
The cost of a care package from an independent midwife varies from area to area, but as a rough guide, you can except to pay anywhere between £2000 and £4500 for the support and services of a private midwife throughout your pregnancy, the birth of your baby and the first few weeks after.
Although independent midwives are not insured, just like the staff you would encounter on the maternity unit in hospital they are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and are required to keep up to date with changes in clinical practice in just the same way NHS staff are.
Can I still have antenatal screening on the NHS?
If you choose to hire an independent midwife, you can still have all your antenatal screening (such as ultrasound scans and blood tests) carried out by your local midwifery services on the NHS – you do not have to fully opt out of their care.
By the same token, your independent midwife can refer you to a consultant if you need it, or arrange for you to be transferred to hospital should it become necessary during a home birth. If you did need to go into hospital during labour, your independent midwife would be able to stay with you, but your care would pass over to the hospital team.
Where can I find an independent midwife?
If you do decide you want to have an independent midwife for your pregnancy and birth, have a look at Independent Midwives UK for details of practitioners in your area, and speak to other women who have chosen this option for their maternity care.
The most important thing is that you feel safe, confident, and that you form a bond with the person who will be looking after you throughout your pregnancy and your baby's birth.