1. Are midwifery services covered under provincial health care?
Yes. As long as you have a valid CareCard you are covered for all midwifery services in British Columbia. To determine health coverage in other provinces you can visit the website of the Canadian Association of Midwives. This site provides current information on the status of midwifery in each province. Your respective provincial department of health can provide additional information.
2. Can a woman have a hospital birth if she chooses a midwife?
Yes, with a midwife you can choose whether you feel more comfortable giving birth at home or in the hospital.
3. Can I still receive pain medication during labour under midwifery care?
Yes, women can choose between gas, narcotics, and an epidural, all of which are available at the hospital. However, midwives will encourage birthing mothers to try more natural methods of pain reduction first.
4. Is it safe to deliver my baby at home?
Yes, childbirth is a normal, healthy process and for many women home is the best place to relax and let the birth unfold. Many studies have shown that home births with a qualified attendant is quite safe, provided the woman is in good health and it has been determined to be a low-risk pregnancy, and labour. For more information, you can read this factsheet (PDF) published by the Citizens for Midwifery.
5. What is a 'water birth' and can I have one under midwifery care?
Yes, water birth can be arranged with a midwife during a home birth. Inflatable children’s pools are often used, which will require some extra preparations that are neither expensive nor difficult to implement. Warm water often alleviates the discomforts of labour pains and helps the labouring woman to cope. My experience has been that water births are generally quite gentle. Even if you don’t actually deliver your baby in the water, spending time in warm water acts as a natural method to ease the discomforts of labour pains.
6. What is "informed choice"?
‘Informed choice’ in this context refers to an expecting mother’s complete understanding and consent to the procedures or treatments occurring with childbirth under midwifery care. To completely understand a test, procedure, or treatment you need to be aware of what is involved, the pros and cons of such procedure, available alternatives, community standards, and what might happen if the test, procedure or treatment doesn’t occur.
7. How often do I see my midwife?
You will typically meet with your midwife every 4 weeks until the 28-30 week stage of your pregnancy. Then, your visits become more frequent (every two weeks) between 30-36 weeks. At this point you will meet every week until birth. Visits become even more frequent should you go past your due date (41+ weeks). You can find out more about post-date procedures by reading our
postdate protocol article
8. What happens in the case of an emergency?
Emergency plans are discussed between you and your midwife throughout the care period. Midwives are well-trained to identify and handle problems; however, more serious concerns necessitate a transfer of care to hospital, and to a specialist. Your midwife continues to play a key role by providing support and information.
9. What is post-term (postdate) pregnancy?
Post-term pregnancy is defined as pregnancy that goes beyond 42 completed weeks since the woman’s last menstrual period. The reported frequency varies from 4-14% depending on the different factors of the population surveyed. The great majority of babies are born healthy whether they arrive at 40 weeks or later. You can read more about post-term pregnancy and its implications by reading out postdate protocol article
10. Why is post-term pregnancy a medical concern?
The main concern is that the placenta may not work as efficiently as it ages beyond 41 weeks gestation. Of pregnancies that are considered postdate, 20-43% of babies may have a diagnosis of post maturity. The clinical syndrome of post maturity has many consequences ranging from loss of fat, dry cracked skin, and meconium (the first bowel movement) in the bag of waters. Rarely, other complications like low oxygenation, meconium aspiration syndrome, convulsions, and death can occur. Data from a large observational study on term and post-term birth from Scandinavia suggest that the number of perinatal deaths is lowest at 40 weeks gestation (2.3/1000), with an increase to 3.0/1000 at 42 weeks and 4.0/1000 at 43 weeks gestation.
11. Can I still have an ultrasound?
Certainly. One ultrasound is recommended around 18-20 weeks, and others may be arranged as necessary.
12. Do midwives work alongside doctors and nurses?
Yes, midwives routinely work with various health care professionals including nurses, obstetricians, anesthetist, and pediatricians. Cooperation and teamwork between health care professionals is the norm.
13. What is involved with becoming a midwife?
To become a registered midwife in British Columbia you must be registered with the College of Midwives of British Columbia (CMBC). This is typically accomplished in one of two ways:
- Through successful completion of a degree program in midwifery at an accredited Canadian post-secondary school.
- As a result of completing the requirements of the Prior Educational Assessment Program (PLEA) provided by the CMBC.
The CMBC evaluates a candidate’s portfolio from any accredited midwifery programs outside of Canada. Candidates often are required to take rigorous provincial exams that cover both academic knowledge and hands-on clinical skills. You can find out more about CMBC by visiting their web site. You’ll find a link to it in our
14. What is a doula?
14. What is a doula?
A Doula is a professional labour support person who focuses on the woman’s emotional needs during pregnancy and childbirth. They do not perform any medical functions but typically have considerable experience and knowledge in the process of childbirth. You can find some useful links to doula services in our
15. What tests are commonly done when I am pregnant?
There are many tests available during pregnancy, these will all be explained at your midwifery appointments. General tests include: Complete Blood Count, Urine study, Blood type and group, Hepatis B status, HIV status, German Measles immunity status. We also check for STD’s such as clamydia and gonrrhea, and syphillus, and can do a pap (unless you’ve had one recently). Later in pregnancy we generally do at least one ultrasound. Further along in pregnancy we can offer to screen for genetic abnormality or spinal bifida in the developing baby, we can also check for gestational diabetes, and test for group B strep.