Is midwifery care safe?

There is a large and growing body of evidence that supports midwifery care as a safe choice for low-risk healthy women. Before regulated midwifery was introduced in Alberta, data was gathered from New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Holland where regulated midwifery is widely practiced in order to justify its introduction as a health discipline in Alberta. Interestingly, researchers found that women and babies often fared better in countries where midwifery was the normal care. In Canada, ongoing midwifery research continues to show that midwives provide safe care.

FACT: Midwifery clients experienced lower rates of forceps, vacuum extractions, caesarean sections, episiotomies, infections and babies born requiring resuscitation, in studies where midwifery was compared to physician-led care for low-risk women.

I like the idea of a midwife, but I would prefer to have my baby in a hospital.
Can I do that?

Absolutely. Midwives support a woman’s choice of birthplace, be that home, hospital or birth center. Midwives in Calgary are members of the CHR Department of Family Medicine and have admitting privileges at hospitals, just as physicians do. They can provide complete childbirth care for you and your baby in the hospital setting. Your midwife can help you decide which place of birth is right for you.

Do I need to see a doctor during my pregnancy as well?

Midwives are primary care providers, which means that you do not need a referral to begin care with a midwife and you do not need to see a doctor; in fact, some women will come to their midwife for a pregnancy test. Midwives can order blood tests and ultrasounds, and provide complete childbirth care. If you should require medical attention unrelated to your pregnancy, then you would need to be seen by your physician (for example bronchitis). During your pregnancy, your midwives are available to you on-call 24 hours a day. At about six weeks after the birth, your care is transferred back to your family physician who will resume responsibility for the health of you and your new baby.

How much does it cost to have a midwife?

Midwifery care is now an insured service in Alberta!

The Alberta Government has announced that as of April 1st 2009 – Midwifery services for comprehensive care from conception to 6 weeks after the baby is born will be covered by the provincial Health Care Plan. Minimal additional expenses can be expected as you will need a few supplies to get ready for their birth. Your midwife can answer your questions about what you need – most women spend about $50.

When should I call to make my first appointment with a midwife?

Contact us as soon as you know you are pregnant. Generally, your first appointment will be booked when you are about 8-10 weeks pregnant. Midwives take on a relatively small number of clients each month to ensure that they are able to provide the personalized care that each woman deserves. Please be aware that we are experiencing high demand for midwifery services in Calgary. It is very common for midwifery practices to become full quite quickly.

What is the difference between a Midwife and a Doula?

Doulas do not provide any clinical care, and do not deliver babies. Midwives are trained to provide all necessary clinical care and ensure the health and well-being of you and your baby. Doulas work as a part of the team, with a midwife or doctor and nurse. Doulas provide continuous emotional and physical support to the labouring woman and her partner, and are a positive addition to the birth team for those couples who desire extra support. For more information about Doulas:

“A doula who accompanies a woman in labour mothers the mother, taking care of her emotional needs throughout childbirth. A doula also provides support and suggestions for partners that can enhance their experiences of birth. A postpartum doula continues that valuable emotional support and guidance, helping a family make a smooth transition into new family dynamics”
-Definition from the Doula Association of North America.

“The midwife is recognized as a responsible and accountable professional who works in partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period, to conduct births on the midwife’s own responsibility and to provide care for the newborn and the infant. This care includes preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in the mother and child, the accessing of medical care or other appropriate assistance when necessary and the carrying out of emergency measures when necessary.”
-Definition from the International Confederation of Midwives

How often do I come for prenatal visits?

You would see your midwife in the clinic every 4-5 weeks until you are 28 weeks pregnant; then every 2-3 weeks until you are 36 weeks pregnant. After 36 weeks you see your midwife every week until you have the baby. The visit schedule is not rigid in order to ensure that you get the personalized care that you need. If you are planning a homebirth your midwife will come to your home for the prenatal visit that occurs around 36 weeks (a month before your due date).

How long are prenatal visits?

For most of your pregnancy the visits are 30 - 60 minutes. This gives you and your midwife lots of time to answer questions and to help you prepare for birth and for looking after a newborn. After 36 weeks, when you are coming to see your midwife weekly, the visits are usually 30 minutes. Women having their second or subsequent baby might not want or need such long visits – feel free to discuss your needs with your midwife.

Can my partner and/or my other children come to my prenatal visits?

Definitely! This decision is yours to make. We welcome your family and we appreciate meeting your partner and answering his or her questions. We enjoy including children in your prenatal care - they often love to help the midwife listen to the baby’s heart and measure your belly as it grows.

I am considering having my children at my birth - is this a good idea?

Being at the birth of a sibling can be a wonderful experience for children. It is a good idea to prepare them for birth - the sights & the sounds. We are happy to lend out books and videos which will help in that regard. We strongly recommend that at the birth you have someone whose role it is to look after your children. This way someone (besides you or your partner) can make sure that their needs are met. This also gives your child the freedom to come and go from where you are in labour/birthing, and gives you the option for some privacy if desired. We recommend that this role is not taken on by your partner in order for you to have your partner’s support and attention. However, if your partner is the best person for the role of looking after the children, then we suggest that you invite another family member, friend or doula to support you.

Can I have the option of using medications for pain relief if I have midwifery care?

Yes. This is your birth and we truly want it to be an experience that you leave feeling listened to, well supported, and proud of your achievement - regardless of how it unfolds. We encourage you to remain open to different options as birth is a journey that cannot entirely be predicted or controlled. Midwives are experts in normal birth and possess skills and experience to assist women to birth their babies with minimal intervention and without the use of medications. Your midwife can answer your questions about the ways to help you with your labour and birth ranging from the use of heat and water to epidurals. Most women who choose midwives share a common goal of natural childbirth. If you plan to use medication/epidural for labour and birth, your needs may be better met with traditional medical care.

Who looks after me and the baby after the birth?

Your midwife continues to care for both you and your baby after the birth until your baby is 6 weeks old. At this time your family doctor or naturopath resumes your care and your baby. If your baby needs extra care then we will refer you to a paediatrician for assessment and/or ongoing care. Your midwife will see you frequently in the first week after your birth to help you with breastfeeding and to ensure that both you and the baby are healthy and thriving. These visits happen either at home or in the hospital (if that’s where you are). After the first week you will visit with your midwife when your baby is 2 weeks old and 6 weeks old. These visits happen in the clinic.

What kind of training do registered midwives have?

Registered Midwives practicing in Alberta have various education backgrounds. Some were trained through apprenticeship training models, some were educated in other countries such as England, The States and Australia, and others attended university based education programs in Canada. Midwives have up-to-date certification in emergency skills for both mothers and newborns. Regardless of how they are trained, all registered Midwives have been assessed and met the stringent criteria set out by the Midwifery Health Disciplines committee in order to practice in Alberta. As a pregnant woman and/or her partner – you can feel confident that you will have a highly skilled professional caring for you.