(Frequently Asked Questions)
What is a midwife?
In Ontario, a midwife is a registered health-care professional who provides primary care to low-risk women throughout pregnancy, labour and birth. Midwives also provide care to both mother and baby during the six weeks following birth. They are available to clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What do midwives do?
Registered Midwives in Ontario offer primary maternity care to healthy pregnant women and their newborn babies from early pregnancy, through labor and birth, until about six weeks postpartum. What does this really mean? As midwives we listen to your needs and help you find answers to your questions. We observe, educate, guide and care. We order and interpret tests, discuss results and prescribe most medications as needed. We provide holistic care for the whole woman including physical, psychological, emotional and social health. We stay with women during pregnancy, labour and birth. We catch babies. We do home visits postpartum. We help you with breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a new baby. We work together and with other health professionals. We practice evidence based, woman centered maternity and newborn care and within an established part of the Ontario health care system.
What are the advantages of midwifery care?
Many women enjoy the personalized care that midwives provide. At Huron Midwifery, you will be cared for by one main midwife and will also meet another back-up midwife so that you will always have a known midwife available to you 24/7. Midwifery clients also benefit from longer prenatal appointments and are encouraged to make “informed choices” about their pregnancy and birth. A recent study from the Ministry of Health found a 98.7% satisfaction rate for women who received midwifery care.
Women under midwifery care also experience less interventions during birth. For example: midwifery clients have a 38% lower c-section rate and 62% lower rate of forceps and vacuum deliveries than women delivering with family physicians. It has been found that Midwifery clients are also much more likely to be successfully breastfeeding 6 weeks after the birth.
What area do you serve?
We care for women who live in Huron County, parts of South Bruce County (South of Highway 9), and the west part of Perth County.
Please see the attached map showing our catchment area. (MAP)
When should I contact a midwife?
It is best to call our office or fill out our intake form online as soon as you find out you’re pregnant as some months fill up quickly. When you are 8-11 weeks pregnant you will have your first prenatal visit with us and we can order all of the necessary lab work and ultrasounds like a Family Doctor would. Sometimes we can accommodate women late in pregnancy too, so contact us to see if we have a spot available. We look forward to hearing from you!
Do I need a referral to make an appointment with a midwife?
No. If you wish to have a midwife, you may call the midwifery clinic directly to arrange your first appointment. There is no need for a referral or to see your Family Doctor first.
Is there a charge for midwifery care?
There is no fee for midwifery care. Midwifery care, (including prenatal, birth and postpartum care) is fully funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For those without OHIP, midwifery services are still covered, however you may encounter charges for laboratory fees, ultrasounds or for your hospital stay if you plan a hospital birth.
What kind of training do midwives have?
All Registered Midwives in Ontario have formal university education including classroom instruction and practical placements in hospitals, midwifery clinics and the community. Midwives can either complete a four-year Bachelor of Health Science in Midwifery degree through an Ontario University or, if the midwife has been trained internationally, they complete the International Midwifery Pre-registration Program offered through Ryerson University. Registered Midwives have a professional association and Regulatory Body that provides guidelines, registration and liability insurance much like other health care professions.
Where can I have my baby?
Midwives are the only health care professionals that can offer you a choice of where you would like to deliver. Huron Community Midwives offer four different options: Home Delivery, Clinic/Birthing Suite (in Blyth), Goderich Hospital and Walkerton Hospital. We also hold privileges at Stratford Hosptial so if complications arise then we can deliver babies or transfer care to an Obstetrician in Stratford. We will have plenty of time during your pregnancy to talk about which option is the best one for you.
Can I have pain medication during the labour?
Yes. Women receiving midwifery care have the same options for pain relief as any other woman. Generally we find that midwifery clients use pain medication less often than the general population. Feeling well informed, prepared and supported during the birth experience can help women to cope better with contractions. Your midwife will discuss all options and techniques for pain relief with you during the pregnancy. The midwife is licensed to administer some pain medications on her own, while others require a consultation with a physician during labour.
How often do I see a midwife?
Midwives work collaboratively in group practices. A woman receives care from a small number of midwives. Visits to a midwifery practice occur on a regular basis, during which time midwives provide clinical examinations, counseling and education. Appointments are 30 – 45 minutes long to allow enough time for information sharing and questions. The appointment schedule for prenatal care (before the baby is born) follows the standard obstetric care model. Prenatal visits are once a month for the first 28 weeks, every two weeks until 36 weeks and then once a week until your baby is born. Midwives are on call for emergencies 24 hours a day.
What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A birth doula is a trained labour support person who provides emotional and physical support to a labouring woman and her partner. While she is not a medical professional, she can offer a wide range of comfort measures during labour – from massage to aromatherapy to continuous reassurance and coping techniques.
A midwife, on the other hand, is a trained primary caregiver who provides care to women throughout their low risk pregnancy, labour and birth, and provides care to both mother and baby during the first six weeks following the birth. Like a doula, she too provides emotional and physical support to a labouring woman and her partner, but also is able to tend to the low risk medical needs of healthy pregnant woman. When you choose a midwife, you have the choice of giving birth in either a home or hospital setting.
Can I have a midwife and a doctor?
You can have either a midwife or a doctor for your pregnancy, birth and newborn care. Midwives, obstetricians and family physicians are all considered primary caregivers. A primary caregiver takes sole responsibility for your care. Having two caregivers is viewed as a duplication of health care services.
I have a medical condition. Can I still have midwifery care?
Women with serious medical conditions and pregnancy complications are best cared for by a physician. Midwives have clear guidelines to help determine which women can be safely cared for by a midwife. The best way to find out if you are appropriate for midwifery care is to contact us to discuss your situation. Many of the reasons people believe they are “high risk” do not exclude them from midwifery care, for example being over 35 years old, having had a previous c-section, being overweight or having had a previous miscarriage.
What kind of diagnostic tests can a midwife order?
There is a wide range of tests that a midwife can order. For example, a midwife can arrange for appropriate ultrasounds and genetic screening, as well as standard blood tests in pregnancy. Midwives can also prescribe commonly used medications.
What happens if something goes wrong?
If a health concern arises beyond the scope of midwifery practice, your midwife would consult with the appropriate health care professional. Occasionally, this may result in a transfer of your care to an obstetrician, or for your baby to a pediatrician. If your care is transferred, your midwife remains with you in a supportive role.
How long do I continue to see a midwife after the baby is born?
The midwife provides care for you and your baby until six weeks after the birth. The midwife will visit you at home (or in hospital) within 24 hours of the baby’s birth and come for an additional three or more visits within the first two weeks postpartum, to support and assist you with infant feeding and newborn care and to monitor your health and your baby’s health. Visits then continue at the clinic until the final visit at six weeks following birth.