What is Midwifery?

newborn careThe midwife’s scope of practice is low-risk, healthy childbirth.  We provide individualized, flexible care and attempt to be responsive to the needs of each client and their family.  Our education prepares us to work as primary caregivers for normal pregnancy and in co-operation with medical caregivers if a situation outside of our scope of practice arises.  We practice within the standards developed by the College of Midwives.  These standards detail the clinical indications for consultation or transfer of primary care to a physician, as well as contraindications for home births.  We also work within a set of protocols for our practice which help us provide consistent care.  You are welcome to read our protocols in full.  They are available in our office.

According to the Ontario Midwifery Act (December 31, 1993), “The practice of midwifery is the assessment and monitoring of women during pregnancy, labour and postpartum period of their newborn babies, the provision of care during normal pregnancy, labour and postpartum period and the conducting of spontaneous vaginal deliveries.”

This is consistent with the International Definition of a Midwife as:

“….a person whom having been regularly admitted to a midwifery education program, duly recognized in a 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. She must be able to give the necessary supervision, care and advice to women 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 of mother and child, the procurement of medical assistance and the execution of emergency measures in the absence of medical help. She 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 childcare. She may practice in hospitals, clinics, health units, domiciliary conditions, or in any other service.”

Philosophy of Midwifery Care in Ontario

Midwifery care is based on a respect for pregnancy as a state of health and childbirth as a normal physiologic process and a profound event in a parent’s life.

Midwifery care respects the diversity of client needs and the variety of personal and cultural meanings which client’s, families and communities bring to the pregnancy, birth and early parenting experience.

The maintenance and promotion of health throughout the childbearing cycle are central to midwifery. Midwives focus on preventive care and the appropriate use of technology.

Care is continuous, personalized and non-authoritarian. It responds to a client’s social, emotional and cultural as well as physical needs.

Midwives respect the client’s right to choice of caregiver and place of birth in accordance with the Standards of Practice of the College of Midwives. Midwives are willing to attend birth in a variety of settings, including birth at home.

Midwives encourage the client to actively participate in their care throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum period and make choices about the manner in which their care is provided.

Midwifery care includes education and counselling, enabling a client to make informed choices.

Midwives promote decision-making as a shared responsibility, between the client, their family (as defined by the client) and her caregivers. The client is recognized as the primary decision maker.

Midwives regard the interests of the client and the fetus as compatible. They focus their care on the client to obtain the best outcomes for the client and their newborn.

Fundamental to midwifery care is the understanding that a client’s caregivers respect and support the client so that they may give birth safely, with power and dignity.

— From the College of Midwives of Ontario