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A registered midwife is a health care provider who is trained to provide care to both mother and newborn during normal pregnancy, labour, birth, and the first six weeks of your baby's life. When women and babies are healthy, midwives provide primary care similar to the care that a family doctor would provide, including ordering blood tests, ultrasounds, and other routine assessments. Midwives are skilled in providing emergency care, detecting complications, and providing care together with physicians and other specialists when consultations are needed.
Midwifery is a self-regulated profession, and registered midwives work under the oversight of the College of Midwives of Ontario, which sets core competencies and registration requirements that midwives must maintain. The role of the College of Midwives of Ontario is to ensure that midwives provide safe care to families.
The word "midwife" comes from roots that mean "with woman" and midwives themselves may be men or women, although most are women.
Midwives provide care with a focus on promoting normal labour and birth, and client-centered care. When you work with a midwife during your pregnancy, you have the option of giving birth in or out of hospital, you receive early postpartum care in your home, and you have access to on-call care and support when you need it. By caring for you in your home in the first few weeks of your baby's life, midwives can support you in getting more rest and adjusting to parenting. This model of care also allows midwives to support the breastfeeding relationship if you choose to breastfeed your child.
Midwifery care is structured so that you become familiar with the care providers who will be with you during labour by allowing for longer appointment times and keeping your midwifery team small. In labour, you will receive care from a midwife who you know and trust, as well as from a second midwife toward the end of labour who you may have met during pregnancy. We call this continuity of care. Longer appointment times, plus the trusting relationships that midwives often develop with our clients, mean that you get more time to learn about your options, allowing you to make truly informed choices.
We view pregnancy and birth as significant events in your life, and so your social, emotional, and cultural needs are accorded importance alongside your needs for physical care.
A doula is a person with training and experience in providing emotional and physical support during labour and birth, and sometimes in the postpartum period. Midwives also provide labour support, but we are regulated health care professionals with training in prenatal care, labour and birth, and postpartum care for both you and your baby. Doulas and midwives often work together, and you can have a doula at your birth along with your midwife. Because your midwife will be thinking about your clinical care during labour, you and your partner or other support person might find it very helpful to have support from a doula in addition to your midwife.
Doula services are not covered by public health care coverage, and most doulas charge a fee for their work.
Midwifery in Ontario is funded through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. There is no cost to women for midwifery services. You can access midwifery care even if you don't have coverage through OHIP, although you may be billed for lab tests and other health care services.
Midwives are trained in many different settings and models around the world. In Ontario, many midwives are trained in the Ontario Midwifery Education Programme (MEP), a four-year degree program that is run out of Laurentian University, Ryerson University, and McMaster University. Midwives who are qualified to work in other Canadian provinces can apply for reciprocal status and work in Ontario. Midwives who were educated outside of Canada must pass the International Midwifery Pre-Registration Programme, a one-year equivalency program.
We also continue to learn through ongoing educational opportunities at conferences, in peer review, and at interdisciplinary rounds in hospitals, as well as in our roles as preceptors and educators for students in the Midwifery Education Program. Midwives are the only health professionals that recertify in Neonatal Resuscitation yearly as well as attending Emergency Skills sessions every second year.
You can call us as soon as you find out that you're pregnant! Your first appointment can be scheduled for your first trimester, depending on when you learn that you're pregnant and when you call.
It is never too late to contact us! You can start seeing a midwife at any point in your pregnancy. If you've already seen a doctor, your doctor can transfer your prenatal records to your midwife with your permission.
We endeavour to provide care for as many women as possible as we recognize that we are the only obstetric care providers in the area. Availability varies monthly, but we encourage you to contact us to discuss midwifery care further.
In many cases, women who think they are high risk have complications that a midwife would consider within her ability to manage. For instance, midwives routinely take care of women over the age of 35 and women who have had previous caesarean or forceps/vacuum deliveries.
Although there are some cases in which a midwife will be unable to provide primary care to you throughout your pregnancy, midwives often work in consultation with doctors to provide you with excellent care. If health concerns come up during your prenatal care, your midwife can arrange referrals to doctors and can usually continue to be part of your care team.
Midwives adhere to regulations set out by the College of Midwives in deciding when to consult, and when a doctor must provide your prenatal care. There are certain chronic conditions that necessitate specialist care; feel free to call the clinic to discuss your concerns if you have a health condition and are interested in midwifery care.
Yes! Both women planning a vaginal birth after caesarean and women choosing an elective repeat caesarean are eligible for midwifery care.
Click here to read more about your options.
Although your doctor is welcome to send a referral and forward any relevant pregnancy information, you do not need a doctor's referral. You can call us directly. It is best to contact a midwife as soon as you find out you're pregnant. We do often have openings for clients later in pregnancy and encourage you to call anytime.
Contact our office if you are unsure which midwives are the closest to you. We can discuss whether it is possible for us to provide your pregnancy care or we can direct you to other midwifery practices if they would be more appropriate based on your location and choice of birthplace.
To view our catchment areas and included communities, click here.
Absolutely! We would love to hear from you. We can discuss the differences in midwifery versus physician care as well as answer any questions that you might have.