Answers to Common Questions
What is a midwife?
Midwives are registered health professionals who provide maternity care to women and babies during pregnancy, birth, and until six weeks postpartum. As primary care providers, midwives are solely responsible for the management of clinical decisions that are made collaboratively with clients during the prenatal, birth and postpartum period. Midwives can order all of the necessary lab and diagnostic tests related to pregnancy, and are also able to prescribe medications when they are needed.
How does midwifery compare to physician-led care?
When compared to physician-led care, studies have shown that low-risk women cared for by midwives experienced lower rates of forceps, vacuum extractions, caesarean sections, episiotomies, infections, and babies born requiring resuscitation. Women having received midwifery care report feeling listened to, respected and supported. The development of a trusting midwife/client relationship helps women to experience pregnancy, give birth and become mothers with a sense of empowerment.
Are all pregnancies suitable for midwifery care?
Midwives specialize in low risk pregnancies; approximately 85% pregnancies are low risk (CDC). In the event that a midwife identifies a high risk condition that is outside of the scope of midwifery care, a midwife is able to consult or, if needed, refer clients to an obstetrical specialist. Oftentimes, the midwife continues on with care in a supportive or shared care role.
What is the difference between and midwife and a doula?
Doulas do not provide medical care and do not deliver babies. A birth doula is a trained labour support person who offers a wide range of comfort measures during labour and may also provide postpartum support services to assist a new family. Doula services are not insured through Alberta Health Care. If you are interested in hiring a doula you can talk to your midwife about it or for more information, visit DONA International.
How are midwives educated and regulated?
Registered midwives have a four-year university degree in midwifery or equivalent (if educated outside Canada). Once a midwife has completed her training, she is licensed by the College of Midwives of Alberta. Midwives are required to maintain yearly clinical competencies. For more information, visit the College of Midwives of Alberta.
Is Midwifery fully insured by Alberta Health Care?
Yes! Midwifery services have been fully covered by Alberta Health Care since April 1, 2009.
Do I need to see a doctor as well as my midwife?
No. Midwives are independent primary maternity care providers. Once accepted into care, your midwife will provide complete pregnancy, birth and postpartum care until 6 weeks after delivery. Midwives can order all the necessary tests, examinations and prescriptions that are needed during pregnancy. If a non-pregnancy related medical problem arises, your midwife will recommend that you see your family physician for that concern.
Can I use medication or an epidural for pain relief if I have a midwife?
Yes. While midwives are experts in supporting natural birth, we have many low intervention techniques to help women through the process of labour. Ultimately, as midwives, we want you to have a safe birth experience where you feel listened to, empowered and supported. Midwifery clients have access to the same pain relieving options (in hospital) as those clients care for by doctors. Generally, midwives use pharmaceutical pain management techniques as tools to help labour progress, rather than routinely.
What happens if I develop a high risk pregnancy?
Certain conditions can occur in pregnancy or birth that are considered high risk and out of the scope of midwifery care. In this case, a transfer of care to an obstetrician/pediatrician may be necessary. Most often, a midwife is able to consult an obstetrician for guidance on a particular issue and the client can remain in care. In any case, our clients are always an integral part of any decision regarding care.
Can I have a midwife if I have had a Caesarean section before?
Yes. Midwives can care for women with a history of a Caesarean section.
Can my partner and children come to my appointments?
Yes! You are welcome to bring whoever you like; this is a great time to involve and prepare siblings for your family’s new arrival. It’s also a good time for us to get to know your partner and have any questions answered..