Of course his point was fully valid. Why would anyone pay for something they could get for free? Let alone what seems like vast amounts of money to those that don't know what they are paying for. Most people don't know you can hire an independent midwife or indeed that we even exist at all. The press would have had you believe that we are now extinct like the dinosaurs, a once beautiful ideal that just couldn't keep up in the modern world in which we live. Of course the opposite is true we are blossoming and starting to get the word out that we are here to stay.
So what do you get for your money? What are the differences between care on the NHS and hiring an independent midwife? Firstly you get to choose who will be at your birth. This is a big deal, this is going to be one of the most intimate moments in your life and it does matter who is there. If you are comfortable with the people present at your birth, the chances are that your natural physiology will work much more efficiently that if there is a complete stranger present. If you want to look at the science behind this statement then please read any thing by Michael Odent or Sarah Buckley. Oh and, by the way, these people are not hippy midwives they are fully trained doctors.
Secondly you get continuity of carer, your midwife is your lead care provider during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. You can develop a relationship with your midwife over the course of your care which will enable you to build trust in them. This type of care is associated with significant benefits for mothers and babies with no identified adverse affects. The benefits include a reduction in rates of epidurals, episiotomy, and instrumental birth, with an increase in spontaneous vaginal birth (RCM, 2014). The evidence has been freely available since the 1990's that continuity of care improves outcomes in both pregnancy and birth. In fact so much so that it became a government agenda to make this change throughout maternity services, this however has never been successfully implemented.
Thirdly, and it could be argued most importantly, you get time. All midwives want to give you the time and care that you deserve, however, in our current social climate, birth is just not given the importance that it deserves. Governmental budgets prioritise the labour and birth of your child but fall short with antenatal and postnatal budgets. Often community midwives carry a case load of 100 pregnant women at any given time, they can only allocate 15 min for the usual routine appointments. Those that give more time often are not paid to do so. Independent midwives, on average, carry a case load of 15 women per year. This means they can allocate 1-2 hours for each appointment or indeed as much time as you feel that you need. Appointments are at times that suit you and your partner so that you can both prepare for becoming parents, which is one of the most monumental things that will ever happen in your life.
If having read all this you are interested in finding out more, IMUK have just launched a new find a midwife facility which is in operation while the new website is being constructed. There are over 70 midwives registered with IMUK and it is likely there will be one in your area. Please contact your local midwife, they will be happy to answer your questions and many will offer you a free consultation.