Midwives are health-care professionals who provide government-funded expert primary care to pregnant people and their newborns. Through pregnancy, labour, birth and the first six weeks after birth, you will be cared for by a small group of midwives. This continuity of care means that you are likely to know the midwife who delivers your baby.
You can choose to have a midwife or a doctor, not both. As midwives are experts in low-risk pregnancy and birth, midwifery clients will not see a physician unless there are concerns or complications. If complications arise, midwives can consult with physicians or, if necessary, transfer a client’s care to a physician. If care is transferred, midwives continue to support their clients and resume primary care when it is possible. You don’t need a referral from a doctor to have a midwife, just contact us directly.
A midwife is not a doula. A birth doula is a trained labour support person who provides emotional and physical support to those giving birth and their families. While not medical professionals, doulas can offer a wide range of comfort measures. You would find and pay your doula yourself, as doula services are not covered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. If you are considering having a doula at your birth, talk about it with your midwife.
Midwives in Ontario promote normal birth and provide client-focused care. The following statements provide a framework to the philosophy of midwifery care practiced in Ontario:
- Midwives view pregnancy and childbirth as a healthy and normal physiologic process and a profound event in a woman’s life.
- Midwives respect and support their clients so that they may give birth safely, with power and dignity.
- Midwives respect the diversity of women’s needs and the variety of personal and cultural meanings that individuals, families and communities bring to the pregnancy, birth, and early parenting experience.
- Midwives promote optimal health throughout the childbearing cycle and maintain a focus on preventive care.
- Midwives encourage women to actively participate in their care throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum period and make choices about the manner in which their care is provided.
- Midwives provide education and counselling to support women making informed choices.
- Midwives promote decision-making as a shared responsibility, between the client, her family (as defined by the woman) and her caregivers. The client is recognized as the primary decision maker.
- Midwives provide care that is continuous, personalized and non-authoritarian.
- Midwives provide care that is responsive to women’s social, emotional, cultural and physical needs.
- Midwives respect women’s right to choice of caregiver and place of birth and attend births in a variety of settings, including home, hospital and birth centre.
- Midwives support the appropriate use of technology as required in the provision of midwifery care.
- Midwives regard the interests of the woman and the fetus as compatible. They focus their care on the mother to obtain the best outcomes for the woman and her newborn.
Midwives work as independent, primary caregivers and we are funded to provide care to clients and their families during pregnancy, birth and the first six weeks postpartum. Our services are an alternate to, not in addition to, medical and nursing care for normal pregnancy and childbirth. If complications do arise we work in a team with doctors and nurses.
We provide prenatal care in our clinic and attend the labour and birth at your home, at Georgian Bay General Hospital and at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. Early postnatal visits take place in the home, and later postnatal visits take place in our clinic. We provide a ‘low intervention’ style of care that seeks to avoid the routine use of drugs and technology. We work together with clients and their partners to use alternatives to birth technology.
The use of technology and drugs is sometimes necessary and is available as needed. Midwifery care for planned hospital births includes labour support and monitoring at home prior to moving into the hospital. If the client and baby are well following the hospital birth, they are discharged early from the hospital (usually within 3-4 hours).
The midwives’ scope of practice includes caring for healthy clients with a normal pregnancy, care during labour and birth, and care for both client and baby during the first six weeks postpartum. We offer individualized care and strive to be responsive to the needs of each client and their family. We practice within the standards of practice developed by the College of Midwives of Ontario.