What is a Midwife?

Midwives are experts in healthy pregnancy and birth.

In B.C, registered midwives offer primary maternity care to healthy pregnant clients and their newborn babies from early pregnancy, through labour and birth, until about 6 weeks following delivery. They practice evidence based, client – centered maternity and newborn carer and are an established part of the B>C health care system.

Midwifes listen,observe,educate,guide, and care. They order and interpret tests and screen for physical, psychological, emotional and social health. They are with clients during pregnancy, labour and birth, normal and complicated. They catch babies. They do home visits after the baby is born. They help with breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a new baby. They work together and with other health care professionals.

Do I need a referral from my Doctor to see my midwife?

No referral is required.

Are Midwifery Services regulated?

Yes. Midwives are registered with and regulated by the College of Midwives of British Columbia(CMBC) according to the BC Health Professions Act, the midwives Regulation and the CMBC bylaws. midwives have been regulated and legally recognized as autonomous health care practitioners in BC since 1998.

Are the costs of Midwifery Services covered in BC?

Yes. the BC Ministery of Health covers the cost of midwifery services for all BC residents with a valid Carecard or BC Services Card through the BC Medical Services Plan (msp).

Can I have a Doctor and a Midwife?

The BC Medical Services Plan covers only one primary care provider for the duration of your pregnancy and birth, to six weeks following delivery for healthy pregnancies. The choice of caregiver during your pregnancy is up to you.

Midwives are experts in healthy pregnancy and normal birth and consult with family doctors and other specialists such as obstetricians as the need arises. Six weeks after delivery, when your midwifery care is completed, you will be transferred back to your family doctor who will resume responsibility for the health of you and your new baby. Families who do not have a family doctor are responsible for making arrangements for their ongoing primary care. Your midwife can provide you with more information on finding a doctor for your family.

When should I call to make my first appointment?

Contact a midwife as soon as you know you are pregnant. Midwifery practices may be full depending on the community and their practice volume. However, you can call at any time as space may become available or a practice may not be full for any given month. If you started your pregnancy in the care of a doctor and would like to transfer to a midwife, it is possible to do so but it may be difficult to find an available practice.

What is the working relationship between a midwives and a obstetrician?

Midwives consult with family doctors, obstetricians, pediatricians and other specialists as the need arises. A transfer of care could arise under urgent scenarios. Unless a complication arises early in pregnancy midwives often remain involved in a supportive role, with care sometimes transferred back to the midwife once the complication has subsided. In these cases midwives nearly always remain involved in the care provided.

Will I have access to the same tests and prescriptions that I would of had with my Doctor?

Yes, registered midwives offer a complete panel of prenatal laboratory tests, genetic screening and diagnosis options, ultrasound imaging and many other tests and procedures for clients and newborns. A midwife’s scope of practice includes the use of many medications that may be indicated in pregnancy, during labour—including emergency situations or pain medication—and following birth. If medication or testing is required outside of this scope of practice, midwives consult with and refer to doctors as indicated for more specialized care.

Can I choose whether I give birth at home or in a hospital?

Yes, midwives offer the choice of birthplace to healthy, low-risk clients based on the principles of informed decision making. On average, 70% of births attended by midwives occur in hospitals. This number varies by practice and community.

What pain relief options are available to me?

Midwives offer a range of natural and pharmaceutical pain relief options, including access to epidurals. It is paramount in midwifery care that clients have access to the information necessary to make informed decisions about the use of pain relief options. These options are discussed during prenatal visits as well as during prenatal classes.

What happens if I have to have a C-Section?

Midwives have a 42% lower caesarean section rate than the provincial average. However, in certain circumstances a caesarean birth may be recommended as a safer option than a vaginal birth. In most situations midwives are involved in the decision making process, and will usually be present during a caesarean birth and for healthy baby care afterwards.

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 the necessary medical care and to monitor 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 and are a positive addition to the birth team for clients who want extra support. For more information about doulas, please visit the BC Doula Services Association. If you or your partner are Aboriginal, you qualify for a free doula through the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.