What Is Midwifery?
A midwife is highly skilled and trained in providing compassionate, personal and individualized care to low risk, healthy clients. We see pregnancy and childbirth as normal states for the healthy person. We work as primary caregivers for normal pregnancy, making appropriate consultations with other health care professionals, such as obstetricians or pediatricians, if a situation outside of our scope of practice arises. Our scope of practice enables us to conduct spontaneous normal vaginal deliveries, assess and monitor clients during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period and care for newborn babies for the first six weeks following delivery.
Our midwives can attend your birth at home, at London Health Sciences Centre Victoria Hospital, or at Woodstock General Hospital. Your team will provide you with continuity of care throughout your pregnancy, giving you information to make choices that are right for you and your family. Continuity with a small team of midwives means you are likely to know the midwife delivering your baby. Our midwives carefully monitor and guide clients, assisting you and your family throughout your pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience, while respecting your choices and values.
Clients in midwifery care see midwives exclusively; as midwives are primary care providers, clients do not see family physicians for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care simultaneously.
Our team is available for urgent concerns and for clients in labour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When a midwife is off call or is on vacation, another midwife on the team will act in her place.
The definition of a midwife
By definition accepted by the International Confederation of Midwives and the World Health Organization, and endorsed by health planning groups in Ontario, a midwife is:
“A person who, having been regularly admitted to a midwifery education program, duly recognized in the country in which it is located, has successfully completed the prescribed course of studies in midwifery and has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery. The midwife must be able to give the necessary supervision, care and advice to clients during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period, to conduct deliveries on her own responsibility and to care for the newborn infant. This care includes preventative measures, the detection of abnormal conditions in the client and child, the procurement of medical assistance and the execution of emergency measures in the absence of medical help. The midwife has an important task in health counselling and education, not only for the patients, but also within the family and community. The work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and extends to certain areas of gynaecology, family planning and child care. The midwife may practice in hospitals, clinics, health units, domiciliary conditions, or in any other service.”
Disclaimer: This statement has been revised by TVM using gender inclusive language.
Ontario Midwifery Model
As of January 1, 1994, the practice of midwifery in Ontario has been covered in legislation that regulates several health professions in the province. Midwives are required to be registered with the College of Midwives of Ontario, which sets standards for practice and education. All aspects of midwifery care are fully funded for Ontario residents through the Ministry of Health. Clients without OHIP coverage who are residents of Ontario, will be required to pay for certain hospital expenses but some laboratory and ultrasound fees may be covered. Click here to read more.
The Ontario model of midwifery is based on three principles:
Continuity of Care
Midwifery care is available to pregnant families throughout their pregnancy, labour, birth, and the first six weeks after birth. Midwives spend time developing relationships with clients and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Clients are active decision-makers in the care they receive; midwives give information to help you make informed decisions.
Choice of Birthplace
Midwifery clients may choose to give birth at home or in hospital. Midwives maintain hospital privileges at many Ontario hospitals and work collaboratively with other health care practitioners.