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Midwives

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What do midwives do?
Midwives are experts in normal birth. In a nutshell, Registered Midwives in BC provide primary maternity care throughout pregnancy, for the duration of labor and birth, and care for mother and baby until up to eight weeks postpartum.

What does this really mean? Midwives listen, observe, educate, guide and care. They order and interpret tests and discuss results. They screen for physical, psychological, emotional and social health. They are with women during pregnancy, labour and birth, in normal situations and when complications develop. They catch babies. They do home visits postpartum. They help with breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a new baby. They work with other midwives and with other health professionals. They practice evidence based, woman centered maternity and newborn care and are an established part of the BC health care system.

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 gathered from New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Holland, the US and Canada where regulated midwifery is widely practiced shows that midwives provide safe, high quality care.

Midwifery clients experience lower rates of forceps application, vacuum extractions, cesarean section births, episiotomies, infections and babies born requiring resuscitation, when care is provided by trained, registered midwives such as exist in BC.

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 125 Registered Midwives in the province, both in rural and urban centres. For midwifery information across Canada see canadianmidwives.org

Do I have to pay for midwifery care?
In BC the Medical Services Plan 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. For women who are not registered with MSP midwives may also bill privately – ask at the clinic if you are not sure if you are registered.

Can I have a midwife and a doctor at the same time?
The Medical Services Plan will cover one primary care provider for mom and baby, for the duration of pregnancy, throughout labour and birth, and for the first two months postpartum. The choice of caregiver for a normal, healthy pregnancy is each woman’s decision to make and will either be a midwife, a family physician, and in some areas of BC, an obstetrician. Midwives are experts in healthy pregnancy, normal births and well babies. We will consult with specialists should the need arise. After the baby is born, the care of both mom and baby is transferred back to their family physician who will resume ongoing medical care.

What is the working relationship between midwives and physicians?
At Pacific Midwifery we value the relationships we have developed over the years with many kinds of specialists including physicians, nurses, obstetricians, pediatricians and lactation consultants. We are trained to recognize the indications of when to consult with our colleagues and when to transfer care during pregnancy, birth and post partum as set out by the College of Midwives of BC.

What experience and training do midwives have?
This varies. Ask your midwife and 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. At Pacific Midwifery your prenatal care will be in the clinic, and for the first two weeks after your baby is born we will visit you at home. After the first two weeks your visits are usually in the clinic, with a final visit around six weeks

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. The assistance of a Doula can lead to lower medical interventions including less Cesarean section births and enable you to focus on your work together as parents both in labour and after your baby is born. For more information about doulas, see bcdoulas.org and dona.org.