About Midwifery

Midwives and Midwifery Care in BC

Who midwives are

BC Midwives are autonomous, independent, perinatal health care providers.  They provide care to healthy, low-risk women and their babies,  from conception to six weeks postpartum.

Midwives are 'specialists' in normal birth.  They are trained to manage all of the normal conditions and situations that arise in a normal pregnancy, birth and post-partum period.  They are also trained to handle most of the common obstetric emergencies that can arise.  

BC Midwives are able to attend births in the hospital or at home, and are at this point the only practitioners who offer water labour and birth.  

 BC Midwives are trained and licensed (or 'registered') health care providers.  They are generally graduates of recognized programs of midwifery.

Midwives are governed by the College of Midwives, and work within guidelines set out by the College and other regulatory bodies.  When in hospital, they practice according to hospital policies.  Midwives are fully integrated into the BC health care system, and are a well-respected part of the perinatal team. 

Who can see a midwife

Almost all women are eligible for midwifery care.  Only women with pre-existing heart conditions or diabetes are not eligible - they require care by a physician. 

In BC, midwifery care is covered by the medical plan.  So you don't have to pay to see a midwife!  It's free!  

You do not need a referral to see a midwife.  You are welcome to arrange an initial visit or 'interview' with a midwife to see if midwifery is the right option for you.  
How midwives work

Midwives rely on traditional approaches and current scientific research to provide you with safe, supportive care.  

Midwifery care is tailored to your individual needs, wishes, beliefs and values.  You and your family are the most important people in your care.  And you make the decisions about your care.

Midwives are committed to providing you with the information and resources you need to make those decisions.

Midwives are part of the health care system.  If either you or your baby require care that is beyond the scope of your midwife, she will consult with specialists such as obstetricians and pediatricians.  In this situation you do not 'lose' your midwife - she remains involved in your care at all times.  She and the specialists work as a team with you - and your baby - at the centre.

Midwives usually spend more time with their clients than most doctors are able to do.  A typical appointment is 30 to 45 minutes long.  

At the beginning of pregnancy you have appointments every 4-5 weeks.  At 30 weeks the frequency increases to 2-3 weeks, and at 36 weeks appointments occur on a weekly basis.  

Midwives provide your care when you are in labour.  When you go into labour, your midwife will come to your home to see how you and your baby are doing. 

If you are planning a hospital birth, she will help you decide when to go to the hospital, and will accompany you there.  

If you are planning a home birth, she will stay at home with you, and call another midwife to help out before the baby is born.  After your baby is born, your midwife stays with you for another two hours or so.  

If you are in hospital, you may be discharged as early as 6 hours later, as your midwife will be visiting you at home within 24 hours.

In the first week after your baby is born, your midwife will come to your home for visits.  Her focus then is to make sure that you get off to a good start with your new baby.  If you have chosen to breastfeed, she will focus on that.  

After the first week, you will usually be ready to come for your 2, 4 and 6 week postpartum visits at your midwife's clinic.  

At 6 weeks postpartum, your midwife's care is usually complete, and you and your baby are then transferred back into the care of your doctor.

Many midwives work in groups of two to four midwives.  They may each have their own clients, or they may 'share' clients.  

You will have some appointments with another midwife or midwives during your pregnancy so that you get to know the members of the group.  

If your midwife is not available when you go into labour, you will be attended by one of the midwives that you have met.
Subpages (1): FAQs about Midwifery