Frequently Asked Questions
What is a midwife?
In a nutshell, midwives are experts in healthy pregnancy and birth.
Registered Midwives in BC offer primary maternity care to healthy pregnant clients and their newborn babies from early pregnancy, through labor and birth, until about six to eight weeks postpartum. Midwives listen, observe, educate, guide and care. They order and interpret tests and discuss results. They screen for physical, psychological, emotional and social health. They are with clients during pregnancy, labour and birth, normal and complicated. They catch babies. They do home visits postpartum. They help with breastfeeding and adjusting to life with a new baby. They work together and with other health professionals. They practice evidence based, client centered maternity and newborn care and are an established part of the BC health care system.
Is midwifery care regulated?
Midwives are registered with and regulated by the College of Midwives of British Columbia according to the BC Health Professions Act, the Midwives Regulation and the CMBC Bylaws. Midwives have been regulated and legally recognized as autonomous health care practitioners in BC since 1998.
Is the cost of Midwifery care in BC covered?
BC Ministry of Health funding covers the cost of midwifery care for all BC residents with a valid Carecard through the BC Medical Services Plan. It is important to note that coverage is provided for only one type of healthcare provider for healthy pregnancies in BC see "Can I have a doctor and a midwife?" below.
If you do not have a valid BC care card, you can still receive midwifery care - please contact our office to find out more.
Can I see a doctor AND a midwife?
The BC Medical Services Plan covers only one primary care provider for the duration of your pregnancy and birth, to six weeks postpartum for healthy pregnancies. The choice of caregiver during your pregnancy is up to you. Midwives are experts in healthy pregnancy and normal birth and consult with Family Physicians and other specialists such as Obstetricians as the need arises. At six to eight weeks post-partum, when your midwifery care is completed, you will be transferred back to your family physician who will resume responsibility for the health of you and your new baby. Families who do not have a family doctor are responsible for making arrangements for their ongoing primary care. Your midwife can provide you with more information on Finding a Physician for your Family.
Do I need a referral to see a midwife?
No referral is required. Simply fill in an intake form or give us a call.
Can I acess the same tests and prescriptions that I would get with a doctor?
Midwives offer a complete panel of prenatal laboratory tests, genetic screening and diagnosis options, ultrasound imaging and many other tests and procedures for clients and newborns. A midwife's scope of practice includes the use of many medications that may be indicated in pregnancy, during birth including emergency situations or pain medication, and for mom or baby postpartum. If medication or testing is required outside of this scope of practice, midwives consult with and refer to physicians as indicated for more specialized care.
Can I choose where I give birth?
Midwives offer the choice of birthplace to healthy, low risk clients based on the principles of informed decision making. On average, 70% of births attended by midwives occur in hospitals. This number varies by practice and community. For more information on home birth in BC read the CMBC Home Birth Handbook for Clients (PDF). You can read a large study on homebirth in British Columbia , literature as complied by the American College of Nurse Midwives or also An annotated guide to the available home birth (PDF) , literature as compiled by the Division of Midwifery, UBC.
Can I have pain relief in labour?
Midwives offer a range of natural and pharmaceutical pain relief options, including access to epidurals. It is paramount in midwifery care that clients have access to the information necessary to make informed decisions about the use of pain relief options. These options are discussed during prenatal visits as well as during prenatal classes should you choose to attend classes in your community.
I'm more than half way through my pregnancy and I have been in the care of my family doctor until now. Can I transfer to a midwife or is it too late?
Yes, it is possible to transfer care at any time in pregnancy, providing we have space available.
What happens if I need a C-Section?
Choosing a midwife as your primary care provider in BC lowers your chance of having a cesarean section, however in certain circumstances a cesarean birth may be recommended as a safer option than vaginal birth. In most situations midwives are involved in the decision making process whether in labour or prenatally, and will usually be present during cesarean births and for healthy baby care afterwards. Clients remain in hospital longer after a cesarean section birth, therefore midwives visit clients and their babies in hospital until they have returned home. Click here to read more about birth by C-Section.
What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?
Doulas do not provide medical care and do not deliver babies. Midwives are trained to provide all the necessary medical care and to monitor 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 laboring woman and her partner, and are a positive addition to the birth team for couples who want extra support. For more information about doulas, please see the Doulas of North America Website or the BC Doula Services Association.
What if there are complications?
During your initial visit, the midwives should be able to give you an idea of whether or not the care you need is covered by their scope of practice. Should complications arise while in a midwife's care at any time, the College of Midwives of BC's guideline will help inform the decision to consult with or transfer care to the appropriate physician or specialist.