The saga of accessing affordable, ethical birth cover


A new birth insurance product has emerged just recently, and I can access it if homebirth is your plan.  That’s the most realistic approach to the legal requirement that all midwives attending birth must have birth insurance. In theory, it is still the case that your local NHS Trust can provide cover for me to be at your birth, via a bank or honorary contract, without any cost to you. This is pretty rare, and they are more likely to do this if they feel you have needs that I could more fully provide than they could. Feel free to get in touch with me to talk about possibilities, and read about a recent example here in Guernsey.


Affordable, ethical indemnity access for the UK’s independent midwives has been a perennial problem for years now, and though antenatal and postnatal cover is still available, many of the UK’s IMs cannot currently attend birth. After discussion with the NMC about what they actually want us to have in terms of cover, we are therefore,  under the banner of the Childbirth Choices Matter campaign,  fundraising to create not-for-profit birth indemnity cover as well as looking into other funding sources with this aim. This avoids midwives and birthing folks being left at the mercy of the commercial market. Please donate a little if you can, so truly independent midwives can once again be available to support birth.


In the wake of a new Trust Board coming into place at Airedale NHS, the partnership described below has come to an end, meaning that I and many other Yorkshire independent midwives do not currently have the legally required indemnity cover allowing us to attend homebirth.

I can still offer antenatal and postnatal visits and care, as the indemnity for this is covered by my RCN membership. I will also gladly help you create a robust, practical birth plan.

At the end of a unique partnership, March 2020, Airedale NHS midwives write…

“I have always been inspired by the work of independent midwives, the commitment to normality, provision of truly informed choice and family centred care. I feel privileged to have seen the knowledge and skill that the IMs have. The loss of your combined knowledge and skill in normal birth is terrible for childbearing women and midwives that still have so much to learn!

I have particularly enjoyed your study day updates and feel that these were a huge enhancement to my practice and although it wasn’t learning something new it was considering other viewpoints and options. My practice has changed, especially my confidence in supporting women to make informed choices and supporting women who want care outside of hospital and national guidelines. The IMs occasionally covering the homebirth service facilitated 2 of the women on my caseload to have homebirths that would have not been available otherwise! I have equally had the pleasure of attending homebirths with IMs which I found to be a reassuring and learning experience.

I have been in awe of the care you provide, and I would have no hesitation in booking my own care with you as an IM as I truly believe the care you provide is fantastic.” – L

“I for one have gained so much from working with you all,  if not directly, by sharing our collective midwifery wisdom and experiences.” – S

“I can’t tell you how sad I am about this partnership ending, for the women and for the staff. I was slightly apprehensive at first how things would work, but I can say hand on heart it has been a pleasure, both to work alongside and to have learnt a lot from all you …Airedale was ground breaking in putting the collaborative working into place and I am so sorry it has come to an end.” – A


Yorkshire’s independent midwives are uniquely lucky, in that, after the 2017 decision by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to stop independent midwives using their specially-designed birth indemnity cover, Airedale NHS stepped in to offer a mutually beneficial partnership, including birth cover. This allows the Yorkshire IMs to attend all their home birth clients, and to clock on at Airedale hospital if local clients transfer in, or further-off clients book elective inductions or sections. This partnership entirely respects the individualised choices of birthing women.

Francesca, who birthed under this arrangement, writes…

“I gave birth on 14th January 2018, to a little girl. She was born at Airedale hospital with the midwives and doctors support there, as well as with the support of the Yorkshire Storks independent midwives, who I had seen during my pregnancy and who have supported me postnatally…I laboured for some time at home, in the birth pool and in my bedroom, with the support of my partner and Sharyn. I then transferred to Airedale, where I continued to be supported by Sharyn and the midwife team in hospital… [they] were extremely mutually respectful. It is a unique partnership which these independent midwives have with a hospital and I truly hope it continues to flourish, as I hope it means more women and their babies can benefit.”