Frequently Asked Questions

Why is midwifery care different?

Midwives are primary care providers and follow a practice model that sets them apart from other maternity care providers. There are four main components that make midwifery care different, and they are the reason so many families choose midwifery care.

  1. Continuity of care: Your care, from early pregnancy through to six weeks postpartum, is provided by a single midwife or a small group of midwives. This means that you know your midwife well and she knows you and your family well. It facilitates a relationship of trust and familiarity. Your midwife is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by pager or by email, should you need her.
  2. Informed choice: Midwives recognize that every pregnant person and every family is unique. They offer informed choice, working in partnership with families to provide all the necessary information so that families can make their own decisions about their care throughout pregnancy, labour, birth, and postpartum.
  3. Choice of birth place: Midwives support your right to choose your place of birth, and offer home, hospital, and birth center settings.
  4. Evidence-informed practice: Midwifery practice is informed by research, evidence-based guidelines, clinical experience, and the individual desires and needs of the families in their care.

Is midwifery care safe?

Yes. There are high quality Canadian research studies that support midwifery care as a safe choice for low-risk healthy individuals. These studies show that midwifery clients experience lower rates of forceps and vacuum assisted births, caesarean sections, episiotomies, infections, and babies born requiring resuscitation.

Is midwifery care legal?

Yes. Midwifery care has been regulated in Alberta since 1988 through the College of Midwives of Alberta. The term “Midwife” is protected in Alberta and can only be used by a Registered Midwife. Currently, there are approximately 127 Registered Midwives in the province. For a complete listing see the College of Midwives of Alberta website.

Do I have to pay for midwifery care?

No. As of April 1, 2009 Alberta Health Services fully funds midwifery care services.

Can I have a midwife and a doctor at the same time?

No. Midwives are primary care providers and specialize in healthy pregnancy, normal labour and births, and well babies. They can order all necessary blood work and ultrasounds, and prescribe medications for pregnancy, labour, and postpartum. They care for you from the first trimester through to six weeks postpartum. At that time, care for you and your baby is transferred back to your family physician. Midwives will consult with family physicians, obstetricians, pediatricians, or other specialists should the need arise.

What is the working relationship between midwives and obstetricians?

Midwives have excellent collaborative relationships with obstetricians. They will consult with obstetricians during pregnancy, labour and birth, or postpartum should a situation arise where a consultation is indicated. Sometimes the midwife and the obstetrician will work together and sometimes a transfer of care to the obstetrician is appropriate. Consultations with obstetricians and transfer of cares to obstetricians are always discussed with you as part of the fundamental principle of informed choice care.

What experience and training do midwives have?

All Registered Midwives in Alberta are registered with the College of Midwives of Alberta and have the equivalent of a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Midwifery. They have extensive education and skills specializing in low-risk pregnancy, labour and birth, postpartum and well baby. As part of their ongoing training requirements, Midwives regularly recertify CPR, Neonatal Resuscitation and Obstetrical Emergency Skills.

Can I have a midwife and still give birth in the hospital?

Yes. Midwives support women’s right to choose the place of birth and offer women home, birth centre or hospital births. All Registered Midwives maintain hospital privileges so they can provide comprehensive care in all settings.

Will I have access to the same tests and prescriptions that I would have had with a doctor?

Yes. Midwives are primary care providers and can order blood work and ultrasounds and prescribe medications for pregnancy, labour, and postpartum.

Can I have an epidural if I have a Midwife?

Yes. Epidurals are only available in a hospital setting, as they require an anaesthesiologist. Midwives are qualified to manage labour and birth with epidurals. However, Midwives also support natural pain management options such as water, position changes, and continuous labour support, as this low intervention approach supports normal, physiologic birth. This approach is supported by research and is based on the belief that birth works the best without medical inference. At times, epidural and other medical technologies are used, by these are regarded as tools used for individual circumstances and not as routine practice.

How often do I see my midwife?

Midwives usually see you for your initial visit between 8 and 10 weeks gestation and care for you through to six weeks postpartum. During the first and second trimester, clinic visits are usually every four weeks. Around 30 weeks gestation, visits are every two weeks, and from 36 weeks gestation until birth, visits are weekly. Visits are typically 20 to 60 minutes long, allowing the midwives time to assess your physical, emotional and psychological health, to discuss any questions or concerns you may have, and to have informed choice discussions for your individual situation.

You can reach your midwife or midwifery team by email if you have questions and for any urgent concerns, you can reach them by pager 24 hours a day.

During labour, your midwife will usually come to your home to assess your progress. Once you are in active labour, your midwife will stay with you to monitor the well being of both you and your baby. A second midwife will be called to attend the birth. After the birth, the midwives will stay with you for approximately 3 hours to ensure the family is well and stable and that breastfeeding is established (if desired). At that time, the midwives will leave your home, or you will be discharged from hospital or birthing center. If there are any concerns the midwives can admit you to postpartum until concerns have stabilised. There are usually 3 home visits in the first week following your birth. Subsequent visits take place at in clinic and 2, 4, and 6 weeks postpartum. After 6 weeks, midwifery care is completed and you are transferred back to your family physician for ongoing care.

Is a doula the same as a midwife?

No. Doulas and midwives are very different and have distinct and separate roles during your labour and birth. A doula is a non-medical person who provides continuous emotional and physical support throughout labour, and is a positive addition to the birth team for those couples who desire extra support. A midwife is a primary medical care provider, responsible for the health and safety of you and your baby during pregnancy, labour and birth, and postpartum. For more information about doulas, please feel free to look at the doulas listed under local resources or contact the Calgary Doula Association.

How do I become a client at Birth Partnership?

If you are interested in the services offered by Birth Partnership Midwives (new or repeat clients), please click here to fill out our client application form.

If you have questions, contact us