Is midwifery care safe?

There is a large body of evidence that supports midwifery care as a safe choice for low-risk healthy women. Data was gathered from New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Holland where regulated midwifery is widely practiced in order to justify its regulation in BC. In fact, researchers found that women and babies did better on average in countries where midwifery was the normal care.

FACT: Midwifery clients experienced lower rates of forceps, vacuum extractions, cesarean sections, episiotomies, infections and babies born requiring resuscitation, in studies where midwifery was compared to physician led care.

Is midwifery care legal?

Yes, since 1998 midwifery has been regulated through the Health Professions Act by the College of Midwives of British Columbia. The title "midwife" is protected and its use by anyone other than a Registered Midwife is illegal. Currently, there are approximately 130 Registered Midwives in the province.

Do I have to pay for midwifery care?

In BC the Ministry of Health pays for the services of Registered Midwives. If you are covered under the BC Medical Services Plan, all you have to do is show your BC Care Card.

Can I have a midwife and a doctor at the same time?

The Medical Services Plan will cover one primary care provider for the duration of your pregnancy and birth, to six weeks postpartum. The choice of caregiver during your pregnancy is up to you. Midwives are experts in healthy pregnancy, normal births and well babies. Midwives will consult with family doctors, obstetricians and pediatricians should the need arise. About six weeks post-partum, your care is transferred back to your family physician who will resume responsibility for the health of you and your new baby.

What is the working relationship between midwives and obstetricians?

Midwives consult with family doctors, obstetricians, pediatricians or and other specialists if situations arise that fall outside the Midwife's scope of practice. Midwives have clear indications of when to consult and when to transfer care during pregnancy, birth and post-partum as set out by the College of Midwives of BC. This information is made available to every woman who chooses a midwife as part of the fundamental principle of midwifery care: informed choice.

What experience and training do midwives have?

This varies. Ask the midwife, she will be happy to share her background and experience with you. All Registered Midwives in BC, regardless of their educational backgrounds, have demonstrated a high level of competency as required by the College of Midwives of BC through rigorous written, clinical and oral examinations.

Can I have a midwife and still give birth in the hospital?

Midwives support womens’ right to choose the place of birth and offer women home or hospital births. All Registered Midwives obtain and maintain hospital privileges so they can provide comprehensive care in both the hospital and home setting.

Does having a midwife mean I can't have an epidural?

The appropriate use of a range of natural and pharmaceutical pain relief options, including epidurals, is part of the midwifery scope of care. Paramount in midwifery practice is that women feel respected and supported so that they are able to give birth safely, with power and dignity.

Do all visits with my midwife take place in my home?

Most midwives have clinics where prenatal and some post-natal visits take place although there is a wide variety in practice settings. This is something to ask individual midwives when you are seeking a care provider. In the post-partum period visits are usually conducted in your home for at least the first week or two following birth. Subsequent visits may take place at the midwife’s place of practice until care is transferred back to your family physician, around six weeks after your baby arrives.

How often do I see my midwife?

Midwifery visit schedules vary among practice groups, but usually visits are begun when pregnancy is confirmed and end when the baby is six weeks of age. Visits every three to five weeks for the first and second trimester is typical. By 30 weeks gestation most midwives begin visiting with their clients every two to three weeks and weekly after 36 weeks until the birth. Visits are usually 30 to 60 minutes long, allowing your midwife to assess your physical health, allow time for informed decision making, and to determine how well you are doing emotionally and psychologically. Between visits there is a midwife on call 24 hours a day that you may telephone with concerns.

What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

Doulas do not provide medical care, and do not deliver babies. Midwives are trained to provide all necessary medical care and ensure the health and well-being of you and your baby. Doulas work as a part of the team, with a midwife or doctor and nurse. Doulas provide continuous emotional and physical support to the labouring woman and her partner, and are a positive addition to the birth team for those couples who desire extra support. For more information about doulas, contact the Doula Services Association of BC.