For many people, becoming a midwife is a calling – something they just knew they were meant to do. And as midwife-assisted births continue to trend upward in Canada, it’s a calling that more and more people are pursuing.
Contrary to popular belief, midwives are highly trained professionals. While there are several pathways to midwifery, most midwives have completed a four‑year baccalaureate program, while others were practicing nurses who chose to change their profession and pursue continuing education.
Some midwives, who studied overseas, complete an international bridging program, allowing them to practice in Canada. These 9-month bridging programs bring in talent from all over the world – a Persian midwife, midwives from Germany, or a midwife who studied in New Zealand – and enable them to practice midwifery in Canada.
Midwives are multifaceted professionals; they are part medical professionals and part pregnancy support companions and advocates. Midwives must continually use their heads, hands, and hearts to provide well-rounded compassionate care to their clients – the career is both rewarding and highly demanding.
Midwives must have a thorough understanding of both normal and complex pregnancy conditions, delivery, and postpartum care for women and newborns. In some cases, your midwife may work with your doctor or other medical professionals.
In addition to the 4-year degree required to practice as a midwife, midwives are expected to participate in ongoing education.
Midwives come from various backgrounds, but they all share a similar focus – providing individualized, flexible care to expectant mothers. Communication, counselling, and cultural sensitivity are all skills midwives must possess. Midwifery today is based on the idea of providing mothers with non-authoritarian informed choice, allowing them to embrace pregnancy and parenthood on their terms.
The relationship between midwives and clients is based on mutual respect and understanding. Diverse cities like Vancouver are fortunate to enjoy a large presence of midwives from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Here, patients who communicate primarily in a language other than English or French can still easily find the right midwife who speaks their language. Whatever your primary language, communication should not be a barrier to receiving your choice of care. You can find a Chinese, Korean, Indian, or Persian midwife, and more.
The average midwife can attend over 50 patients a year; some see as many as 60. Since midwifery is a 24/7 job, midwives tend to work in small teams of 2-4. This ensures that no matter the day or time you need them, a familiar midwife is always available.
In addition to being present during labour and delivering babies, midwives also provide their clients with ongoing medical care throughout their pregnancy. They offer access to the same screenings and tests they would have if they were using a medical doctor for their pregnancy care.
There is at least one midwife on call at all times. Some midwives work out of their own clinics, others have privileges at certain hospitals, and some help their clients with home births. One of the most significant benefits of working with a midwife, besides personalized care, is the ability to choose where and how you want to deliver.
After birth, midwives continue to follow their clients for at least six weeks. They monitor the mother’s and baby’s health, answer questions, and provide support, including help with breastfeeding, nutrition, and recovery.
For years, the number of midwives in BC has been rising as their services become increasingly popular with expectant mothers looking for alternative pregnancy care options. Midwifery services are free, covered under MSP. Last year midwives attend over 25% of births in BC, and that number is steadily increasing.