. Midwifery - Manitoba Parent Zone | Healthy Child Manitoba
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Midwifery

If you or your partner are planning a pregnancy, or are recently pregnant, first of all - congratulations! Pregnancy can be an exciting time for a woman and her family. If you haven’t already thought about it, you might want to start considering the prenatal care and delivery options that are open to you as these are very personal decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. This way you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you, your baby and your family! Many people in Manitoba are aware that midwives exist and practice in the province, but you might also have questions about this option for prenatal, labour and delivery, and postpartum care.

What are midwives, and what kind of training do they have?

Midwives are educated as primary care providers who provide prenatal care, labour and delivery, and postpartum care for women who are experiencing straight forward (uncomplicated, low risk) pregnancies, and for healthy newborns. This includes prenatal care to check how the pregnancy is progressing, attending labour and delivering the baby, and care for both mom and baby for up to six weeks after the delivery. Midwives are an integral part of the maternity care system and work alongside other health care professionals - they are required to consult with obstetricians and other health care providers if problems or concerns arise. Midwives can prescribe and administer certain medications and order diagnostic tests to determine if the pregnancy is progressing normally.

Midwives also follow a model of care that views pregnancy as a normal life experience; they understand and appreciate that pregnancy and childbirth affect the woman and family in a profound way. They appreciate that there are emotional, physical, mental and spiritual changes that happen though pregnancy and childbirth. In the midwifery model of care, the woman is the primary decision maker in her care. Midwives offer continuity of care with a small group of midwives. Your midwife can also offer you choices when it comes to where you may want to deliver your baby. Many women who are under the care of midwives choose to deliver at a hospital or at the birthing centre while others opt for home births.

How is the profession regulated?

On June 12, 2000, the Province of Manitoba proclaimed The Midwifery Act. All midwives in Manitoba must be registered with the College of Midwives of Manitoba, and have either completed a four year baccalaureate program in Canada, or had their credentials from outside of Canada assessed and accepted. They must follow the standard of care established by the College of Midwives.

Can I have pain control options if I choose a midwife?

This depends on where you may want to birth. In the hospital, you will have access to a range of pain control options such as drugs and an epidural, if you desire. In other settings (Birth Centre only), a midwife can offer you some options, like nitrous oxide, if you request it. Your midwife will also discuss other, non-medicinal methods of pain control with you, for example, breathing techniques or using a TENS machine. Hydrotherapy (using water for pain management) is another option that your midwife can offer.

Do I have to pay for a midwife?

In Manitoba, midwifery services are completely covered under Manitoba Health, just like other primary care services. You do not need to pay.

How do I get connected with a midwife?

There is currently a high demand for midwifery care in Manitoba, and this means that in some health regions, not everyone who requests a midwife can get one. Although the Government of Manitoba is working to change this, women who are interested in receiving care from a midwife should contact the intake service in their region as soon as they find out they are pregnant. You can call directly, and don’t need a referral from a doctor, although some medical clinics and community health centres do have practicing midwives. You should be aware, though, that you must already be pregnant when you call to request a midwife - you cannot call to get on the list before then.

Who can get care from a midwife?

Midwifery care is open to women who are having a low risk, healthy pregnancy, which is the case for the majority of pregnancies. Currently, there are provincial targets for priority populations to be able to access the services of a midwife. These are groups that may have a more difficult time accessing maternity care, including Aboriginal women, adolescents, single women, newcomers to Canada, and those with other risk factors, such as low income or social isolation.

Can I have a home birth?

Home births are an option for women who choose a midwife. In Canada, studies have shown that home births attended by midwives are a safe option for healthy women who receive prenatal care from a midwife or physician. Your midwife will discuss your birth options with you at your visits. Canadian Association of Midwives position statement on home births.

Someone told me that midwives don’t attend births at the hospital. Is this true?

No, in fact, the majority of midwifery attended births occur in hospitals (about 70%). Midwives attend births at hospitals, at The Birth Centre, and at home. You can choose the option that is most suitable for you, in collaboration with your health care provider.

Midwifery care offers women in Manitoba an additional choice when it comes to pregnancy, prenatal care, and labour. Whether you are newly pregnant or just starting to dream about the potential of a baby in your life, you can read more about midwifery care at the links below. Happy birthing!

Manitoba Health: Midwifery in Manitoba - Read more about the midwifery services available to women in Manitoba, and find out about how to connect with a midwife in your health region.

The College of Midwives of Manitoba - You can learn more about midwifery services in Manitoba, and read about the history of the College of Midwives in Manitoba, and the standards of care for midwives.

Canadian Association of Midwives - The Canadian Association of Midwives provides leadership and advocacy for midwives and their work across Canada.

Canadian Midwifery Regulators Consortium (CMRC) is responsible for promoting safe and high quality midwifery care. The Council members include provinces and territories that currently regulate midwifery. Click on the link for more information about midwives and the care that they provide.

Midwives Association of British Columbia: Myths of Midwifery - Are midwives and doulas the same thing? Can you have prenatal tests if you have a midwife? This article addresses these myths and other misconceptions about midwifery.