What’s so special about care with an Independent Midwife?

I often speak to women and sometimes men who can’t see a difference between the care that is offered by NHS trusts and care from an Independent Midwife.
Some people struggle to understand why people pay for an IM when they can “get it for free with the NHS”. So my aim here is to try to explain what is different and why people choose to book with an IM.

To women who have never experienced IM care:

Did you ever spend time sitting in a waiting room waiting for your antenatal appointments wishing you could be getting on with something else, did you have to take time off work to attend appointments? Were you able to bring your partner with you to the appointments or were they not able to take time off work?
Have you seen more than one midwife during your pregnancy? Did you have to tell your story over and over again? Have you ever attended a consultant appointment and not been able to remember everything that was said afterwards or wished afterwards that you’d had the strength to question something that was said to you?
Did you feel anxiety as you approached your birth? Imagine ringing someone you know and them coming to you rather than ringing a generic labour ward number and speaking to someone you’ve never met. 
Imagine not having to worry about who your midwife will be, whether you’ll get on and whether she’ll be looking after anyone else at the same time. Imagine not having to make small talk while you’re getting used to the sensations of your labour, no need to discuss your hopes for your birth and no need to admit to a stranger any fears and not having to have half an eye on your partner checking they’re ok.
After your birth did you know who it was that was coming to visit you postnatally? Did you know when they would be coming? Did you see the same person for every visit and were all of your postnatal appointments in your home?
Did you have any challenges feeding your baby and were you able to access extra home visits from someone you knew and trusted? Did you have postnatal visits for six weeks following the birth of your baby?

With an Independent Midwife you have the opportunity form a relationship because your appointments are longer, usually around an hour, you see the same person each time and they happen at times that are convenient for you and your family so if you want your partner to be there we can arrange a time that works for everyone. There is no waiting around in clinic waiting rooms because your IM comes to you, not the other way round.
If you want to see a consultant your IM can come with you so you have an extra set of ears to help remember everything that was said, and we can help support you to speak up if you want to challenge something that you disagree with or don’t feel happy with.

Your IM is on call for your birth and so when you start to notice the beginnings of your labour you are ringing someone who you know and trust and who knows you and your plans, hopes and any fears.
When we arrive at your home we already know where the kettle is, where the toilet is and don’t have to disturb you and your birth partner with questions about your birth plans and preferences because we’ve had those discussions during your pregnancy.

After your baby is born your Independent Midwife will visit as often as you require with no time constraints on your visits so can help you achieve your feeding and parenting goals. All of your appointments are in your home, you will not be asked to leave the house to attend a clinic on day five or day 10, your IM will come to you.
If you need daily visits this is what you will have, as you settle into life with your new baby visits will space out but your IM will continue to visit for the first 6-8 weeks making sure you feel confident with feeding and caring for your baby by the time you are discharged.
If you have any challenges with feeding your IM will be available by phone or in person between visits. She may suggest you go to breastfeeding support groups, but you will not be reliant on getting to a group to access support.

This is not a criticism of NHS care, simply to illustrate the huge differences in the care thats offered, the biggest difference is time.
Your IM has a lot less women on her caseload and so can spend longer getting to know you, exploring your concerns and plans and supporting you to achieve them.