Midwifery Fast Facts

Registered Midwives are Independent, Primary Health Care Providers specializing in low-risk, natural birth.   Regulated and Provincially funded in all but 3 of Canada’s Provinces and Territories, the Canadian model of midwifery care is based on the principles of continuity of care, informed choice, and individualized care and support for young families throughout the prenatal period, the birth event, and the immediate postpartum.  Midwives provide ongoing community-based support in the immediate postpartum–including home visits, breastfeeding support and well woman care–up to 6 weeks, at which time care for the family is transferred to a General Practitioner (MD).

Registered Midwives are committed to providing the best possible care for their clients.  This begins with building a relationship with the young family through regular visits, supporting and empowering them by providing up-to-date information and advice about all aspects of pre-natal health for the mother and the baby: from diet and nutrition, advice about risk management through facilitating testing and access to medical and community resources as desired, all the while acknowledging that families have an individual right to choose their path and planned place of birth. Registered Midwives are the only autonomous Health Care provider trained and authorized to attend homebirths in Canada, however the majority of midwifery-attended births are at local hospitals, as the birth location is primarily based on the wishes and intention of the family/client.

Since midwifery services became regulated and funded in Canada, beginning in Ontario in the early 1990s, demand for midwifery services has continued to outstrip supply in most urban centres, in spite of the development of Provincial Degree Programsin major Universities in Ontario, BC, Quebec and Alberta graduating new registrants each year.  The growth and development of the Profession struggles to keep pace with this groundswell of demand from young families—resulting in wait lists for care in most urban centres despite the over 400%  increase in midwifery registrants in the past 15 years in BC and Ontario alone.

Fast Facts:

  • Midwifery Services are available and fully-funded by Provincial Health Care Plans all over Canada.*
  • Registered Midwives are Independent, Primary Health Care Providers specializing in low-risk, natural birth.   
  • Registered Midwives are committed to providing the best possible care for their clients, based on a model of informed choice and continuity of care.
  • Since midwifery services became regulated and funded in Canada, beginning in Ontario in the early 1990s, demand for midwifery services has continued to outstrip supply.
  • Midwives are the only autonomous Health Care provider in Canada whose scope of practice includes attending homebirths.
  • Midwives are a key, front-line community resource, offering advice and information from diet and nutrition through specialized medical knowledge to young women and their families.
  • Registered Midwives work directly and collaboratively with medical specialists (Obs.),  accessing lab-testing, ultrasounds and referrals in the events of complications with the same level of independence and autonomy as Family Doctors.

*(with the notable exceptions of the maritime provinces ofP.E.I., Nova Scotia and Newfoundland: where demand remains strong, and plans are afoot.)

Common Misconceptions About Midwifery Care.

  1. Midwifery Care is an expensive alternative to a regular hospital birth with a doctor.
  • Midwifery care is fully-funded by Provincial Health Care Plans, and the evidence shows that–owing to the lower levels of medical interventions at midwifery attended births—midwifery care is cheaper for the government (aka the taxpayer) than the alternatives.
  1. Midwives only deliver babies at home.
  • Registered midwives are granted hospital privileges with the same autonomy as Family Doctors: in fact the majority of midwifery attended births are in labour wards in the hospital.
  1. Midwives are nurses that help Doctors care for babies.
  • Registered Midwives are autonomous primary health care providers who specialize in normal, low-risk birth.  They work independently of Family Practitioners, supported by Nurses and Specialists on the labour ward in the same capacity as Doctors, or independently with the assistance of another Registered midwife – or qualified second birth attendant with current Neo-Natal Resuscitation Certification and approved Registration through their respective College of Midwives/Regulatory Body – in the case of home births.

Sarah Cosman

Cosman & Webb Townships Organic, Bury, Quebec, Canada